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Something astonishing, even alarming is taking place in the battle over the future of Jerusalem. Even as Palestinian rioters run amok on the temple mount, egged on by radicals of the Islamic movement, much of the anger and dismay in the Israeli and International press is being directed, ironically enough, at Jews who merely wish to visit the site.
Mustering all the righteous indignation at their disposal, the media have been filled in recent days with all kinds of pejoritives to describe them, ranging from "extremists" to "fringe" to "ultra-right-wing," as though a Jew's desire to exercise his basic, fundamental right somehow constitutes an act of provocation.
Before our very eyes, we are witnessing a concerted effort to deligitimize and even demonize our people's most cherished dream: the longing for the Temple. The very aspiration that was born in the moments when the Roman flames engulfed the Second Temple more than 1,900 years ago, and which was carried in Jewish hearts throughout centuries of exile, has now become an object of scorn, mockery and ridicule.
Make no mistake: This is nothing less than an unbridled assault on Judaism itself, and it's time for the derision and name-calling to stop.
Opine all you want about how to "solve" the Jerusalem issue, but don't belittle the place of the Temple in Jewish eschatology or belief. Like it or not, the longing for a rebuilt Temple is no less central to Judaism than the desire for peace or social justice. And dreaming of a time when the Temple will stand again is no more fanciful or fanatical than hoping for the day when poverty and hunger will be eliminated.
Just open any prayer book and you will see what I mean. Every day, three times a day, Jews conclude the Amida prayer, which is central to our liturgy, with the following plea: "May it be your will , O Lord our God and the God of our forefathers, that the Holy Temple be rebuilt, speedily in our days."
Is this utterance the province merely of the "ultra-right-wing"?
The Temple and its sacrificial rites are a core component of our faith, and they play a central role in the Jewish vision of a better world. Vilifying those who uphold this belief is simply an act of small-minded intolerance and bigotry, and it has no place in the current debate.
By Michael Freund
The Jerusalem Post
29 October 2009, pg. 15.