At a government session this past Sunday, the ministers attacked Police Commissioner Yochanan Danino for the recent incident. Everyone knew, after all, that Yehuda Glick was a potential target for an assassination. It was a murder that could have been predicted in advance. Yehuda himself, according to his son Hillel, had already lodged a number of complaints with the police about the ongoing incitement against him, and he had even furnished them with copies of advertisements circulated in the Arab community that called for his murder.
On Motzoei Shabbos, I visited Shaare Tzedek Medical Center, where Yehuda was admitted, and spoke to his son, Hillel, and his son-in-law, Adiel Breuer. After listening to what they had to say, I promised that I would make their sentiments heard.
Yehuda is the chairman of the Temple Mount Foundation and founder of the Initiative for Jewish Freedom on the Temple Mount. On a personal level, he is an affable person, well-loved and a yorei Shomayim. Even top secular journalists have written about him in glowing terms. Many Jews throughout the country are davening fervently for his recovery, regardless of their personal disinterest in his battle to permit Jewish prayer on the Har Habayis.
This past Sunday, the Knesset Interior Committee held a special session on the subject. Yerushalayim Mayor Nir Barkat and Police Commissioner Danino were forced to answer some tough questions from members of the Knesset and prominent right-wing figures. The committee chairwoman, Miri Regev, a former army spokeswoman who is today a member of the Knesset, gave the representatives of the right free reign over the session. This is not the first time that the committee has been turned into a tribunal of sorts and a weapon in the hands of the political right. Regev admits to that openly and is herself an ardent supporter of the right wing, even though she herself does not visit the Har Habayis.
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The following will undoubtedly be a shocking revelation: At the last session of the Knesset’s Interior Committee, which took place on Wednesday, August 13, 2014, one of the participants warned the police that they were practically inviting a murder to take place. He was referring to the fact that the police force had not done enough to protect Jews visiting the Har Habayis from the murderous Arab mobs threatening them. He feared that a Jew would be murdered on the Har Habayis itself. He never dreamed, though, that an attempted murder would take place in the heart of the western portion of the city. But so it did. The man who issued that prescient warning was none other than MK Moshe Feiglin. And the problem was that Feiglin has already been identified as an ardent right-winger, so no one listens to his cries.
Yehuda Glick himself also spoke at that session. In fact, an outsider could have been excused for thinking that Glick was the chairman of the committee, as he practically led the discussion. He was the dominant speaker at the session, and the most fluent and well thought-out. He even screened a video that painted a painful picture of the helplessness and weakness displayed by the police force in the face of screaming, threatening Arabs. The video was accompanied by Glick’s own running commentary.
I myself attended that session with one goal in mind: to make my own protest, however quiet and small, against the very act of entering the Har Habayis. While I certainly agreed that the police have the responsibility to protect every Jew in every location, I felt that it was appropriate to make a public declaration, one that would be recorded in the protocols of the committee, that all the gedolim agree that it is prohibited to enter the Har Habayis today. After all, the right wing claims to be bound by the halachic rulings of the gedolim.
At that session, I took a picture of Yehuda Glick sitting alongside his partners in his struggle, the Elbaum family of Yerushalayim. Today, when I look at that photograph, I am deeply moved to think that the man in the picture is currently fighting for his life.
There were only four members of the Knesset present at that committee session: Miri Regev, the chairwoman of the committee; Moshe Feiglin, who is deeply identified with the struggle to permit Jewish prayer on the Har Habayis; Mordechai Yogev of Bayit Yehudi, who told me that he himself does not go to the Har Habayis; and Dovid Tzur, who led the session after Regev left. Later on, MK Nissim Ze’ev arrived to present the rabbonim’s ruling. His arrival, in fact, was at my request, since the chairwoman of the committee had refused to allow me to speak. She was well aware of what I planned to say.
Other invited participants included the commanders of the police force in the Yerushalayim district, as well as members of the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Religious Affairs, and the municipality of Yerushalayim. Naturally, the session was also attended by right-wing activists dealing with the issue of the Har Habayis, led by Yehuda Glick, Yisrael Medad, Motti Dan, Aviad Visuli, and the Elbaum family (Shimshon, Nechemiah, Shlomo and Chaim). The topic of the session was “Police Preparations for Jewish Visitors to the Har Habayis During the Holidays of Tishrei.”
At the session, Yehuda Glick delivered the following statements: “The period from Shivah Assar B’Tammuz until Tishah B’Av is a time of great demand for Jews to be given the opportunity to visit the Har Habayis. These are days when we mourn over the destruction of the Bais Hamikdosh. During the three weeks of mourning this year, the Har Habayis was closed to Jewish visitors for 13 consecutive days. There were only two days during this entire period when it was open in the afternoon. Anyone who called the police and asked about visiting the Har Habayis was told that the mount was closed. We called the district commander and were told that the situation was reevaluated every day. Since we did not receive answers, people came.
“Beginning on Friday, July 18, we could see that the situation was heating up. The Har Habayis has become an active center of Hamas operations. Throughout that day, there were fiery protests. I will not weary you by describing everything that happens there. Hamas flags were flown and there was severe rioting on the mount. Every day, Jews would come and watch from afar, but would be unable to enter the mount. We were told that it was filled with a Muslim mob.
“But we filmed what was taking place inside. Even though the mount was relatively empty, a decision was made to close it, although that decision was not revealed to us directly.
“For me, that Thursday was the saddest day. That night, there was a pogrom on the Har Habayis. Masked Arab rioters threw explosives at the police officers stationed at the gates to the Har Habayis, breaking through the gates. The situation reached a head when the police station on the Har Habayis was burned down. The station was completely destroyed. Inside, everything was wrecked. The rioters broke into the building, stole the computers and documents, and destroyed everything they found. There was total destruction everywhere, and the walls were covered with graffiti. You can see all this on the video. Look at the fire inside the building as it burns. The police simply fled. The graffiti on the walls lists the names of all the missiles that were fired from Gaza. This is what is happening on the Har Habayis.”
Regev interrupted, “This is happening on the mount? Where are the police?”
Glick replied, “You can see police equipment here. The video shows a man climbing on the roof of the police station. But the police officers are gone. There is a Palestinian flag atop the roof of the police station. And the Israeli media has completely ignored this incident,” he added.
“This was followed by Eid al-Fitr,” he continued, “three days of rioting in support of Hamas. And all of this took place at the height of Operation Protective Edge. You can see thousands of Arabs wearing t-shirts that show support for the shahids from Gaza, and carrying signs and Palestinian flags. Here, on the video, is MK Shuli Muallem arriving at the Har Habayis. In the afternoon, more people came. One hundred Jews came, only to find the mount closed to visitors in the afternoon.
“The next day, we learned that there was a new law. In the past, we were generally not allowed to sing on the Har Habayis, and we were never allowed to daven. Outside of the Har Habayis, though, we always sang. But on that day, a new rule was put in place. On this video, you can see a group of Jews emerging from the Har Habayis. When they reach the place outside the Har Habayis where we usually sing, they are pushed back by the police. The pushing continues and they keep moving back. Ultimately, a young man is arrested. Why was he arrested? For dancing outside the Har Habayis. And the next day, a mother of nine was arrested on suspicion of davening. Another Jew who bowed down for a photographer was also arrested. Tziporah Piltz, one of the leaders of the movement to ascend the Har Habayis, was also arrested. Here you can see her inside the police station.
“The people of the Waqf curse at us. Look at this man on the video. He is screaming at us for ‘killing children in Gaza.’ I have lodged complaints against that man three times. Each time we go to the Har Habayis, this is how he greets us. He is a member of the Waqf. The other day, two Jews were arrested and accused of moving their lips.”
“Is that what the charges against them said?” Regev asked.
“Yes,” Glick confirmed. “They were arrested for moving their lips.”
“But what did the police write when they arrested them?” Regev persisted.
“They wrote that they were arrested on suspicion of davening. The other day, on Tu B’Av, stones were thrown at Rav Elbaum, an elderly man with a white beard. Here is the stone that was thrown at him. It is a stone, not a boulder, but the policeman saw it. And when Rav Elbaum bent down to pick it up, the policeman yelled at him for taking a stone from the Har Habayis. And here you can see a chosson ascending the Har Habayis for the first time in his life and then being driven away from it. And here you can see the riots that took place on the Har Habayis just yesterday.”
“Why are they being permitted to engage in incitement on the Har Habayis?” Regev asked.
“When we go there,” Glick related, “we are often met with cries of ‘We will liberate Palestine with blood and fire’ or ‘Khayber al-Yahud!’ And each time it happens, the police close the mountain.”
“But that’s incitement!” Regev said.
“Of course it is,” Glick agreed. “It happens on a daily basis. And we don’t react. We just stand there silently. And each time it happens, the police send us out to avoid inflaming the situation. We obey the instructions of the police. When the Har Habayis is open in the afternoons, the police are unable to prevent the deliberate disruptions of the public order due to the increased Muslim presence at those times. In general, the police react to these incidents by sending us out. They often place the blame for the disruptions of order on the Jews who are attacked. But I want to make it clear that the fact that a person can visit the Har Habayis and be subject to verbal harassment, curses and incitement is absolutely intolerable in a democratic state. Unfortunately, the police are quick to make arrests when a Jewish person is merely suspected of moving his lips, but when dozens of Muslim rioters commit acts of violence in front of their eyes, the police do nothing to enforce the law. If the police suppressed the violent rabble, as we saw on Tishah B’Av, the public order would be preserved and World War III would not break out.”
“The police must be given the order to move forward,” Regev said.
Glick concluded his speech by recommending that a time be set for the Har Habayis to be open to Jews only. He was followed by Moshe Feiglin, who began his speech by declaring that his goal is to rebuild the Bais Hamikdosh, and he felt it was a shame that people have branded him as a provocateur. He then addressed the police force: “The way you are operating now will ultimately lead to murder. The way that you, the police, are allowing events to develop, you are essentially communicating to the Arab rioters that anything goes. You have allowed their curses to go by without responding, and you have allowed their mass demonstrations to take place. Then you ignored them when they began throwing stones. You have allowed an entire populace to become whipped into a violent frenzy, and to reach the point of actually attacking Jews who enter the Har Habayis. I am telling you now that it is not a question of whether it will happen, but rather when. That is the natural result of ignoring this trend of Arab violence. The weak hand displayed by the police has only fanned the flames of violence even more, and that will lead to murder, without question.”
Another significant aspect of the session was the address delivered by Rav Shmuel Eliyahu, the rov of Tzefas and son of former Rishon Letzion Rav Mordechai Eliyahu zt”l. Rav Shmuel spoke about the increasing desire of many Jews to visit the Har Habayis. “Hardly a day goes by when I am not asked about whether it is permitted or forbidden to go there, and whether men are permitted to enter the Har Habayis in various states. There is definitely an awakening on this subject taking place throughout the country. And it even reached our Shabbos table this past week. When my family gets together, my children argue. Half of them visit the Har Habayis and the other half do not.”
At that moment, I interjected, “Why is there any need for an argument? Just tell them what your father paskened!”
Miri Regev and all the right-wing activists in the room were incensed. As I mentioned, I responded by bringing in Nissim Ze’ev to present the rabbonim’s rulings on the subject.
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That sums up the discussions that took place when the committee convened in midsummer. This past Sunday, there was another session, also emotionally charged, this time sparked by the attempted murder of Yehuda Glick. I was present for that session as well, and I also made a point of interjecting every now and then, “But the rabbonim prohibit going to the Har Habayis!” This time, Miri Regev had me thrown out of the session.
Beforehand, I also took the opportunity to heckle Police Chief Yochanan Danino and Ran Nazari, the deputy attorney general. The two claimed that the police were not guilty of upholding a double standard, and that their hardened attitude applied equally to Arab and Jewish offenders. When they declared that any reports of incitement against Jews would be handled with the full severity of the law, I exclaimed, “But Yehuda Glick filed complaints!” Regev tried to silence me, but I continued, “He lodged complaints with the police and the files were closed!”
Danino was unable to ignore my remarks and responded, “I was attacked on this count at a government session as well, and I reported there about the complaints he filed. I have asked the police to investigate the matter fully and to get back to me with a report. I promise to bring the results to the public.”
I was informed about Glick’s complaints by his son and son-in-law, whom I met on Motzoei Shabbos at the hospital. Upon arriving there, I discovered that a note had been posted at the door of the intensive care unit asking Yehuda’s visitors not to disturb him. Only his family members were permitted to enter his room.
Glick’s 18-year-old son, Hillel, and his son-in-law, Adiel Breuer, sat with me in a room outside the intensive care unit on the seventh floor of Shaare Tzedek and told me about their family. They described Yehuda’s wife and his father, Professor Shimon Glick. The senior Glick is a well-known professor who was a senior official in the Ministry of Health and worked for many years on the staff of Soroka Hospital in Beer Sheva. I learned that Yehuda’s brother is also a doctor, who divides his time between Israel and a hospital in America. At the time of the shooting, the brother in question was on a plane landing at Kennedy Airport. When he was contacted and informed of what had taken place, he wasted no time getting on a return flight to Israel. Yehuda’s brother and father are both closely monitoring the medical care he has been receiving at Shaare Tzedek, and they have only positive things to say. The Glicks are an American family. They moved to Israel after the Yom Kippur War, when Yehuda was nine years old.
Shimon Glick, like his grandson, is furious at the police. “They turned Yehuda into a monster, and that contributed to his becoming an enemy in the eyes of the Arabs.” They are also angered by the fact that the police ignored the complaints Yehuda filed. They have no doubt that the attempted murder was motivated by his efforts to have the Har Habayis opened to Jewish prayer.
“Is there anything the public can do?” I ask.
Hillel and Adiel reply in unison, “They can daven for Yehuda ben Brenda Ittel for a refuah sheleimah among the rest of Klal Yisroel.”