I know, it sounds like a bad joke. But what is the difference between Islamic terrorists and a Rabbi who wants to pray on the Temple Mount? According to Shin-Bet, Israel's National Security Agency, not much.
March 16 was the First Annual International Temple Mount Awareness Day. The Temple Institute in Jerusalem was one of the many organizations that participated in the event. One of the main goals of the event was to raise awareness about the violation of rights of all non-Muslims who want to pray on the Temple Mount. Also, because Netanyahu did not include the Temple Mount in the recently announced "Heritage Plan," which listed sites of Jewish historical, cultural, and religious significance, awareness was raised for the inclusion of the Temple Mount on this list. The organizers of the event, and anyone who wanted to join them, planned to gather at the Temple Mount on the morning of March 16 in hopes of being allowed to ascend and pray (which of course they were denied access, after Muslims threatened violence). Organizers also encouraged the public to call, e-mail, or fax Netanyahu and encourage him to stop the violation of religious rights of all non-Muslims on the Temple Mount.
The announcement of the First Annual Temple Mount Awareness day got many people's attention; including a "cultural affairs" officer from the US Embassy in Tel Aviv. (Excuse my momentary rabbit trail, but I must take the opportunity to say: The capital of Israel is Jerusalem. Move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem!) The Temple Institute was established in 1987. No US government official has ever expressed interest in their work. But suddenly, after the Temple Institute helped point out that only Muslims were allowed religious freedom on the Temple Mount, an official from the US Embassy couldn't wait to talk to Rabbi Richman, who is the Director of the International Department of the Institute, about the "work of the institute." Rabbi Richman agreed to the conversation and later found out that in all likelihood, the "cultural affairs" officer was a CIA agent. The agent must have jumped to action after talking to Rabbi Richman, because soon an unexpected "visitor" knocked on the Rabbi's door. This time it was Israel's National Security Agency, known as the ISA or Shin-Bet.
The ISA decided to visit the Rabbi, mind you, not at his office, but at his home. During the "visit," the Rabbi was told to desist from all his efforts to influence the public or the government into taking action on issues regarding the Temple Mount. The Rabbi's actions, he was told, were damaging the relationship with the USA, placing a stumbling block in the path of the peace process, and inciting Arabs to violence. If he chose not to cease and desist, jail time awaited him.
I am honored to be a friend of Rabbi Richman. He and his wife are two of the holiest, most righteous people I have ever met. So I have to say "Hat's off!" to the fact that the CIA and ISA acknowledged that the prayers of such a man, especially when said standing upon THE most holy sight on earth, would indeed be a stumbling block to the so called "peace process" that our government has been trying to ram down the throats of the Jews for decades. But we all know that the CIA agent and ISA agents weren't acting upon a spiritual insight. No, their moronic actions fall right in step with what now seems to be considered normal. Muslims play the "threaten violence" card and the US and Israeli governments jump into action . . . and threaten a Rabbi.
A Rabbi who has devoted his life to teaching the life-giving principles of the Torah, who happens to think that the Temple would be a really good addition to the world, and who dons tallit and wants to pray on the mount where the Temple stood is put in the same category as men who devote their lives to teaching their children to kill and hate, who happen to think that the extermination of the Jews would be a really good subtraction from the world, and who don suicide belts. Yes, such clear logic of who the bad guy really is.
The ISA proudly displays on their official website that they are "charged with the defense of the state of Israel . . . against threats of terror, espionage, political subversion, and the exposure of state secrets." They have now classified Rabbi Richman into one of those categories. It's official. The world has gone mad.
Camie Davis © 2010