Reverend Dennis Nthumbi, an evangelical Christian and senior adviser to Kenya’s president, was part of President William Ruto’s delegation when he visited Israel in May. The delegation made headlines when they prayed at the Western Wall, a visit not all political guests choose to make.
Nthumbi said in a prayer that the people of Kenya and Israel “be united in peace as one people at the Kotel [Western Wall].”
Kenya does not officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but Nthumbi referred to the city as such. Perhaps even more controversial was the location of his announcement: the Temple Mount, where he was accompanied by former Knesset member and Temple Mount Advocate Rabbi Yehudah Glick one week ago.
“The fact that the Temple Mount is not accessible to people of all faiths should not be tolerated,” Rev. Nthumbi, who serves as the Africa director for the Israel Allies Foundation overseeing 16 Israel Allies Caucuses, wrote on his Facebook page. “It is time that the veil of hypocrisy be lifted, and the issue faced head-on.”
In a video at the holy site, Rabbi Glick praised Nthumbi for his visit, noting that ‘Kenya’ in Hebrew means “Ken-yah, saying ‘yes’ to God.”
“God bless Israel,” Nthumbi responded. “Israel and the Jewish community are part of our Biblical heritage. You are our brothers. Your God is our God, and we love you. Kenya loves Israel… When we come here, we come home to our fellow brothers, and we are praying for the peace and prosperity of Jerusalem. And that one day, the God of Israel that we are praying to will come and show the strength of the Jewish people.”
“As a Christian, I cannot reconcile with the fact that I cannot exercise my faith whenever I want to. God is omnipresent and omnipotent, and it is not right that when I am on the Temple Mount, I must ‘behave myself,'” Nthumbi said. “I wanted to spend the whole day there, but I was only given 10 minutes. I felt the spirituality up there, removed my shoes, and walked barefoot in the presence of God. But I could not pray loudly, could not prostrate myself.”
While Israeli law mandates equality and freedom of religion at holy sites, the Israeli police enforce restrictions on non-Muslims due to threats of Muslim-Arab violence. Israeli Jews are limited when they can visit the site, must undergo a background check and a search, and may not bring ritual objects or books onto the site. Israeli flags and nationalist images are prohibited. Non-Muslioms are prohibited from praying and may not perform any rituals. They are only permitted to enter the site during greatly limited hours via one gate, generating long lines and wait times.
No directions or signs lead to the Temple Mount in Hebrew or English at the entrance. While they are permitted to wander the site freely, non-Israeli tourists are not offered police accompaniment which leaves them open to harassment by Arabs at the site.
While Israeli law mandates freedom and equality of religion, non-Muslims are not permitted to pray on the Temple Mount or bring any holy objects to the site. In addition, the Waqf requires some Christian visitors to the Temple Mount to put on garments adorned with bright yellow stripes as a sign of Christianity’s diminished status.
“I wanted to kneel, to shout to God, to dance, and those rights were taken away from me,” Nthumbi continued. “It is a human rights violation, and the government of Israel and the entire global community should combat this.”
“Christians and Jews should not be considered second-class citizens on the Temple Mount,” he said. “If they cannot access it, no one should.”
Rabbi Glick told Israel365 News that Rev. Nthumbi’s visit was the beginning of a global movement.
“We have established the global Zionist movement, which is a movement that encourages people from all over the world to come to Zion, Hashem’s holy mountain, to pray and announce the kingdom of Hashem,” Rabbi Glick told Israel365 News. “And that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
Rabbi Glick is indefatigable regarding this vision of nations coming to Zion and has dedicated his organization, The Shalom Jerusalem Foundation, to this purpose.
“Just this second, I came down from the Temple Mount, where I prayed with a group of Chinese Zionists,” Rabbi Glick said, noting that together, they recited Psalms 96, 97, and 48, all of which speak about the entire world coming to pray at Zion.
“We called out in Hashem’s name because that is what we are trying to do; generate a global Zionist movement. Global Zionism puts Hashem’s holy mountain at the center, in the focus of everyone’s prayers. Our goal is to get the whole world to recognize the holiness of Jerusalem and the kingdom of Hashem.”
The predominant religion in Kenya is Christianity, which is adhered to by an estimated 85.5% of the total population. While 33.4% of the population is Protestant and 20.6% are Catholic, Kenya has by far the highest number of Quakers of any country in the world, with around 119,285 members.
There is a Jewish settlement in Kenya of about 600 members, which began in 1899.