Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Jerusalem 4: The Temple Mount

My Samsung app said the fab five walked 10.7 miles today. Kind of ironic since it was called our day of leisure.

Started off leisurely enough with over an hour-long wait to get through security and on to the temple mount. A very long, slow-moving line. A sign from the Jerusalem Rabbinate warns that it is against Torah for Jews to be on the temple mount (presumably they will be desecrated by the presence of muslim shrines).

At 10 am on the dot they will close the door, regardless, says one of the guards. Everyone is getting nervous, wondering if they have waited for nothing.

I am the last one they let on. Whew. We walk into the temple mount plaza. It is massive. The Dome of the Rock shrine is there and the Al Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. It is from here where Mohammed is said to have ascended to heaven on Buraq, his trusty steed.  

Sitting all around the plaza are groups of Muslim worshippers in lots of about 30. They are praying and studying and listening to expositions of the Koran.

Suddenly, we see some Jews, coming around a building right next to us. They walk confidently, accompanied by a couple of temple police who are holding their semi-automatic weapons fairly tightly. 

Some of the Moslems see them, and the signal is given. 'Allahu akhbar': 'God is great.'  It is the cry of the peaceful worshipper, of the devotee, of the jihadist, of the suicide bomber.

The Jews, not at all deterred, smirk a little as all over the plaza group after group joins in the chant. It's almost a scream now as looks of hatred are exchanged. The chant seems to say: 'this is our holy place, you are not welcome here.' It's getting very tense. Men with walkie talkies tell us it's time to leave. We manage a few photos first.