On Sunday, Tom Nisani, head of Temple Mount advocacy group Beyadenu, former Member of Knesset Rabbi Yehudah Gick, and Temple Mount activist Emanuel Brosh were detained by the Israeli police for blowing the shofar in Jerusalem.
The three were blowing the shofar at the Eastern wall of the Temple Mount, the side of the wall that faces the Mount of Olives. There is a Jewish custom to blow the shofar after morning prayer in the current month of Elul in order to wake the heart to repentance before Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
As they were blowing the shofar, two Arabs approached them and told them to leave. Rabbi Glick assured the Arab that after they finished, they would leave. The Arab man then became aggressive and told them to leave in a loud voice.
At that moment, three Magav (border patrol) troops arrived. But the soldier told Rabbi Glick that it was forbidden to blow the shofar in that area as it was considered to be the crime of “disturbing the public”.
Another Arab arrived and they began yelling at Rabbi Glick, mixing their cries for him to leave with curses.
“Is your father an Arab?” the second Arab shouted.
“This is the land of Israel,” Rabbi Glick responded calmly. “It doesn’t belong to your father.”
The soldier explained that the area was considered to be the Temple Mount and the same restrictions on Jews apply.
The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that the tenet of freedom of religion applies to the Temple Mount and that Jews should be allowed to pray at their holiest site but the police cite security concerns of Arab violence to restrict Jewish religious expression. Blowing shofar on the Temple Mount is also permitted by law but prohibited by the police.
The Arabs walked away but Nisani informed the soldiers that the Arabs had threatened them and he requested they arrest the Arabs. They refused.
The soldier ordered the Jews to accompany them to be questioned by police.
“Is there a law I don’t know about that forbids me from blowing a shofar here?” Rabbi Glick asked.
“Yes,” the soldier said.
“Is that new?” Rabbi Glick asked. “What law is it?”
“I don’t know what law,” the soldier answered. “But it is new.”
“When did it begin?” Rabbi Glick asked.
“I don’t know,” the soldier answered.
The incident is just another in a long chain of increasing stringencies the police are placing on Jews on the Temple Mount and now in its surroundings. Two weeks ago, Rabbi Glick was arrested for playing a recording of a shofar on his cellphone.
A police officer arrived at the scene accompanied by several more soldiers and they asked him why they were being detained.
“For interrogation,” he answered, refusing to explain what they were about to be interrogated about. “At the interrogation, they will tell you what crime you are being detained for,” the officer said.
While he was waiting to be taken for interrogation, Rabbi Glick noted, “I saw signs in Hebrew. I mistakenly thought that I was still in Israel. If I had known that it was Palestine here, I would not have dared to blow the shofar.”
Rabbi Glick explained that he has blown shofar in that spot for several years and the previous week, soldiers had accompanied him, explaining precisely where he should stand when blowing the shofar.
“It appears that in the interim, Israel has given this piece of land to the Palestinians. Had I known, I wouldn’t have come here.”
It was noted that the site was currently an Arab cemetery but until recently, it was a site designated for Jewish prayer. In 2011, it was discovered the Arabs had begun burying their dead adjacent to the Eastern Wall of the Temple Mount, in between centuries-old Jewish graves and the Temple Mount. Not only was this illegal and destructive to the archaeology of the site, but it was also, in effect, jumping to the front of the resurrection queue.
Even stranger was when authorities caught Arabs preparing fake Muslim graves at the site, graves which contained no human remains, an action that can only be an attempt to distance Jews from being buried in the spot where the resurrection will begin. It has been determined that at least half of the graves at the location are empty with fake headstones.
It has also been conjectured that this is an attempt to prevent a Jewish Kohen (priest) from ever performing the ritual of the Red Heifer, since he is forbidden for reasons of ritual purity from walking over a grave, and he must do so in order to bring the ashes of the Red Heifer to the Temple. This is a mistaken belief since the remains of a non-Jew do not carry impurity.
The three Temple Mount activists were interrogated by the police for several; hours and charged with disturbing the public and taken to the Shalom court (magistrate’s court) in Jerusalem. The court ruled on Monday that it is legally permitted to blow the shofar and perform religious rituals at the Eastern Wall of the Temple Mount without interference. Teh court rejected the police’s claims.
The judge ruled that Yehuda Glick, Tom Nisani, and Emanuel Brosh would be removed from the Old City and the Walls only until 6AM on Tuesday. The police requested to remove them from the entirety of the Old city until October 19th and this request was rejected outright.