Government Ministries Officially Promote the Temple Mount Movement
Last week the Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev along with the Minister for Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Ze’ev Elkin published a tender calling for candidates to submit proposals for the provision of management services and coordination of information for a project dedicated to raising awareness of the Jewish heritage at the Temple Mount. In the words of the tender the project is intended to “restore, among the local and international publics, awareness of the Jewish heritage at the Temple Mount as a cornerstone of our natural and historic right, by emphasizing the historic and archaeological links and the longing by generations to the return to Zion and for the unification of Jerusalem.”
The tender calls on candidates to submit a multiyear plan which would include consolidating existing research and initiating new research on the connection between the Jewish people and the Temple Mount and making this research accessible to the public.
The prospective project represents a new level in government support for the Temple Mount movement and the cause of reinforcing the importance of the Temple Mount for the Israeli and Jewish public. Although in the past, government ministers such as Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel and Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev have openly expressed their support for the right of Jews to pray at the Temple Mount, never before has the government officially sponsored a project aimed at strengthening the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount.
Emek Shaveh has been cautioning for years that the archaeological activities in the Western Wall Tunnels and other sites surrounding the holy precinct are intended to entrench an exclusive Jewish narrative and Israeli presence all around the Mount. The wording of the tender now leaves no doubt that the archaeological/historical development around the Temple Mount is driven by a desire to ‘prove’ that Jewish heritage takes precedence over the bonds of heritage linking Muslims and Palestinians to the Mount . If the Ministry of Culture was truly interested in cultivating the heritage of the Temple Mount and not just cultivating an exclusive perspective, then it would have included in the project description the many centuries of Muslim splendour on the Mount.
In our opinion, this is not just another step by an ultra-nationalist government to deepen its hold over Jerusalem, but a dangerous measure which brings Jews and Muslims, Israelis and Palestinians and the wider Arab world closer to a religious conflagration.
For more information about the archaeological works in the area surrounding the Temple Mount see our report The Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif – Archaeology in a Political Context.