Jewish people were temporarily banned from setting foot on the Temple Mount by Israel’s government. In an effort to calm the storm that erupted during the clash of Ramadan, Easter and Passover, Israeli authorities thought it best to take whatever steps they could to quell the fury. But what is all the fighting about? There are a lot of misconceptions and myths about the whole subject, and here are a few of them…
False rumors circulated that Jewish people were planning to storm the mosque
Alarmist reports that the Jewish people were going to burst in and desecrate the mosque on the Temple Mount are not new. Nor are they true. Such libelous rumors are circulated quite often, and have been for decades, in order to whip up angry reactions. This year, as has often been the case, the call to rally Muslims to protect the sanctity of the hotly contested area went out and radicals began collecting rocks and ammunition to store in the mosque itself. When violence and rioting began, the police had to come into the mosque to stop the violence. but it was in reaction, not provocation. Rocks and molotov cocktails were thrown from the mosque and the Temple Mount, attacking Jewish worshipers down below. Shocking scenes of the inside of the mosque showed people with shoes on, even kicking a football around, and piles of rocks stockpiled and ready for action. Yet Jewish people have no interest in entering the mosque, and many of the security forces that deal with the violence on the Temple Mount are Arabic speaking Druze rather than Jewish Israelis. Still, the outrage led to widespread condemnation of Israel and even the demand for an enquiry from some of Israel’s newest allies, the UAE, Morocco and Bahrain. Hopefully the truth will be made known, but often it is too late, and the international damage is done.
Jerusalem is not mentioned at all in the Quran
Despite UNESCO suggestions to the contrary, the people of Israel have a long history with Jerusalem. The holy city is mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures some 669 times, and in the New Testament 161 times, yet it is not mentioned even once in the Quran. It’s a peculiar misnomer that the Dome of the Rock is often seen as the holiest site to both Jews and Muslims, when in reality it isn’t for either religion! The golden dome has become an iconic symbol of Jerusalem. However, the Al-Aqsa mosque (“the Far Mosque”), has grey domes and is located some way to the southern side of the plaza. It is this mosque which has been the focus of attention in the recent troubles. Later traditions hold that Mohammed went up to heaven on a horse from the Temple Mount, but the real center of Islam is Mecca in Saudi Arabia. When Muslims pray on the Temple Mount they face with their backs to the Dome of the Rock, facing Mecca, like every other Muslim. But in concentric circles, Israel, Jerusalem, and the Temple Mount are the center of the center of spiritual affairs on this planet, so we shouldn’t be surprised if it is hotly contested. It is the epicenter of spiritual battle, and it often spills out into the physical but Muslims are not the enemy—the Enemy is the enemy!
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)
The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism, not the Western Wall
It is commonly believed that the Western Wall (the “Wailing Wall”) is the most holy site for the Jewish people. This is false. The holiest site is on top of the Temple Mount itself, and the wall, or the Kotel as it is known in Israel, is just the closest place the Jewish people can comfortably pray to the place where the temple once stood, slightly to the north of the Dome of the Rock. The Temple area has been “trampled underfoot by the Gentiles” as Jesus prophesied it would be, “until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). When Israel won the Six Day War against five Arab armies and ridiculous odds in 1967, it was finally back in the hands of Jewish people after some 2000 years. Could this be a significant marker for the end of the times of the Gentiles? It’s hard to say, because for the sake of peace and a quieter life, Israel handed the responsibility for that sensitive site, known as Al-Haram al-Sharif (“the Noble Sanctuary”), over to Jordan, and it is administered by the Waqf ever since. So technically yes, but arguably no.
Jewish people, like Christians, are prohibited from praying or taking holy books up onto the Temple Mount, so the wall is the next best thing.
Israel’s holy sites should all be open to everyone. Anyone is free to approach the Western Wall and pray, no matter what their faith. Anyone can enter a church in Jerusalem, regardless of religion. However, it is understandable that in each case they might be sensitive to other faiths overtly conducting their own worship practices at holy sites. Palestinian concerns are not entirely baseless, even though there is no threat to the mosque itself.
“Hamas is terrified that after close to 75 years of statehood, Israel will begin turning its attention to the place where God chose to establish His name. In fact, each year, more and more Israelis take the dangerous risk of ascending the holy mountain under the hostile guards of Jordanian officials,” writes Rabbi Tuly Weisz, adding, “Palestinian terrorists are getting scared as Jews are getting serious about restoring our holy of holies, the site we pray towards every day, and the building we beseech God for repeatedly throughout our liturgy.”1
Rabbi Weisz insists that although a rebuilt temple would be a “great humiliation to Palestinian terror groups”, it wouldn’t pose a threat to the religion of Islam, whose main religious holy sites are in Saudi Arabia. He suggests that responsible parties from all three Abrahamic religions should proceed to build the third temple, “without damaging or disrespecting the Dome of the Rock or Al Aqsa, as part of a future peace plan between Israel and her Arab neighbors to end the plague of Islamic terror once and for all”. This might sound far-fetched, but an organization called Chozrim Lahar (Return to the Temple Mount) is offering financial compensation for anyone arrested while attempting to ascend the Temple Mount to offer a Pascal Lamb on Passover in accordance with the Biblical command.2
You may not offer the Passover sacrifice within any of your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, but at the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell in it, there you shall offer the Passover sacrifice, in the evening at sunset, at the time you came out of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 16:5-6)
This organization and those who favor such attempts would be considered dangerous radicals who need to be reined in, but Scripture foretells a time when there will indeed be sacrifices reinstated and that a third temple will be built. This is understood in Islamic circles, and presents part of the problem.
We need calm on “both sides”
The international community has insisted there should be “calm on both sides”, but according to Gilad Erdan, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, this suggests that there is a moral equivalence between “bloodthirsty terrorists calling to murder Jews” and a “law abiding democracy that guarantees freedom of worship to everyone.” Erdan urged the Security Council to “Stop placing Israel and the extreme terror organizations as equals on the same level and call for calm on both sides. Such calls only validate terror activity and contribute to increase the violence… Just as we saw in recent days with missiles fired from Gaza and yesterday from Lebanon: There is only one side to blame here for the violence and chaos and these are the Palestinian terror organizations that are trying to hijack the Temple Mount and incite violence. The international community is hiding its head in the sand like an ostrich”.3
There is more to the story than meets the eye, of course. It’s true that there have been calls for murder from the mosque and those gathered on the Temple Mount. A large majority of Palestinians believe that Israel will fall this year according to a prophecy that is circulating widely—moreover, Ramadan is supposed to be a key time for the Jewish state to start crumbling.
73 percent of Palestinians polled in the West Bank and Gaza Strip believe the Quran includes a prophecy regarding the demise of the state of Israel.
“This finding relates to a popular theory devised by a prominent Palestinian West Bank Islamist scholar, Dr. Bassam Jarrar, a longtime Hamas spiritual leader and a YouTube icon, with almost 700,000 subscribers. Jarrar bases his prediction on several Quranic verses and on intricate numerology. His theory is not new. He has been prophesizing [sic] since 1992, and in 1996 published a book that lays out the foundations for the theory. What is timely, however, about his prophecy is that we have reached the due date.
Yes, according to Jarrar, Israel’s demise is destined to take place between March and June 2022.” (Ori Nir, HaAretz)4
It certainly explains a thing or two about the wave of terror attacks we’ve seen lately, as Palestinians without hope have thrown in their lot—even their lives—to the cause. “A quick stroll through Arabic language social media demonstrates how popular Jarrar’s prophecy is,” writes Nir in his opinion piece, concluding that a chronic lack of hope is to blame. And surely believers in Yeshua as Messiah would agree. But real hope is only found in Jesus.
Calls for “calm on both sides” might fall on deaf ears, but we desperately need peace and hope for both sides. Please join us in partnership as we extend the best news there is, an invitation to meet the Prince of Peace, in both Hebrew and Arabic.
- Jerusalem Post, When blood spills on Passover and Easter, it’s time to build the Temple, Tuly Weisz, April 18, 2022
- Israel 365, Cash rewards being offered for sacrificing Pascal lamb on Temple Mount, David Sidman, April 12, 2022
- All Israel News, Israel’s UN ambassador blasts international calls for ‘calm on both sides’ in Jerusalem, asks: What sides? Tal Heinrich, April 25, 2022
- HaAretz, End Times for Israel: The Apocalyptic ‘Quranic’ Prophecy Electrifying Palestinians, Ori Nir, April 17, 2022