Tel Aviv, Israel (IMEMC) – A Haredi Jewish journalist has been slammed by pro-Israel critics after he objected to demands for Jewish access to Al-Aqsa Mosque.
An opinion piece posted in Haredi newspaper, Mishpacha, on Thursday, by deputy editor Aryeh Ehrlich, began in Arabic: “We, the Haredi public, have no interest in going up to the Temple Mount (al-Aqsa Mosque) at this time.
“We vehemently oppose doing so. Even more: Jewish law severely proscribes such an act — on penalty of spiritual excommunication.”
“Therefore, you will never see Haredim ascending the mount, with the exception of one single family, acting on its own, which is condemned for the practice.
“So, even if you have in your hand solid information about an Israeli desire to change the status quo at the Dome of the Rock — which is not true, as far as we know — this has nothing to do with the Haredi public.
“So please, stop murdering us.”
Mr. Ehrlich was subject to an intense backlash on social media for the statement.
Michael Ben-Ari, a former MK and far-right politician tweeted: “Mishpacha is turning to murderers to ask them not murder Haredim… everyone else is okay apparently.”
Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahansarcastically tweeted that a Hamas official had accepted the proposal, but had requested the addresses of national-religious and secular people, to murder them instead.
Later, some Israeli news reports claimed that the article was misunderstood, and that the Hebrew part of it should also have been translated into English.
It was claimed, according to PNN, that the report had been meant as a rallying cry to support Haredis frightened that their distinctive appearance made them a target for attacks.
Haredis, often referred to as ultra-orthodox Jews, have long resisted military service on the grounds that it will expose them to homosexuality and diminish their ability to study the Talmud.
Most Haredi rabbis and mediators of Jewish law have ruled that Jews may not visit the Temple Mount, in case they walk in areas which are forbidden to enter without undergoing purification rituals that cannot be conducted today.
They also argue that some parts of the site, including the borders around the Hacheil area (part of the temple surrounding some of its courts) and in particular, the site of the Holy of Holies, have not been properly mapped and identified, meaning any Jew entering them accidentally could be guilty of a severe religious crime.
Mr. Ehrlich later made a somewhat muddled apology, saying: “In accordance with Jewish law, we oppose going up to the Temple Mount. As a Haredi newspaper whose path is of Jewish law, we do not distinguish between one Jew and another.
“We stand in this struggle shoulder to shoulder with the entire Jewish people, pray for the peace of the people and the peace of the soldiers of the IDF.
“As a newspaper, we are sorry if the article was understood differently.”
Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam. Muslims consider it to be the place where the Prophet first ascended into heaven, and the only place where all of the Prophets have prayed.
Jewish people think that it is the site where God gathered the dust to make Adam, and is where God resides.
On Tuesday, a right-wing Zionist group called “Returning to the Mount”announced on Channel 2 television that it would pay 2,000 shekels ($516) to Jewish-Israelis arrested while praying at the site.
And last week, Israel’s deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely declare: “My dream is to see the Israeli flag flying over the Temple Mount,” and called on the Israeli government to allow Jews to go up to the mount and pray there.
Her comments were later disowned by the Prime Minister’s office, and she claimed they were “personal” and not political.
Zionists claim that the sites were located by a military chief during the Six Day War in 1967, and claim access is needed as part of the commandment to conquering the Land of Israel.
But earlier Haredim statements have responded to this by backing the position of celebrated 12th century Jewish philosopher and Torah scholar Maimonides, who prohibited any “unnecessary” ascent to the Temple Mount.
This report prepared by IMEMC.