Moshe Feiglin’s Speech at the Special Knesset Session on Sovereignty on the Temple Mount
Honorable Chairman and Knesset,
When I drive to the Knesset in the morning, from the traffic circle nearby, a menorah is on display. After the road block at the Rose Garden, you can already see it. It is the same menorah that has accompanied all the Knessets since day one. And here in the plenum, the menorah is once again in front of us; the menorah of the Holy Temple. The menorah is the symbol of the State of Israel. It reminds us, moment by moment, from where we came and the message for which we clung to eternity and returned to our Land, to our city and to the Temple Mount – from where the menorah was exiled.
How do we know what the menorah looked like? How did the sculptor of the menorah in the Rose Garden know how to fashion his work of art? Maybe the original was different? After all, we were exiled from Jerusalem 2000 years ago. How do we know exactly how the menorah looked?
The menorah has been engraved on the Titus Arch in Rome for 2000 years. It is clearly there, being carried on the backs of the Judean captives after the destruction of the Holy Temple and Jerusalem. And from the Roman immortalization of our defeat of 2000 years ago, we know exactly how the menorah, upon which we look every day in the Knesset and which is justifiably its symbol, looked. It is the symbol of the Jewish State that rose back to its feet.
Clearly, the menorah of the Holy Temple is appropriate to symbolize the Knesset. Nothing is more fitting to symbolize the rebirth of Israel. Miraculously, and through the courage of Israel’s soldiers, our Father in heaven returned our holy Mount to us. Once again, we can light the menorah; from the Mount we can illuminate the world with the message of the prophets – the message of liberty from any human who seeks to enslave us; the message of the perfection of the world in the service of G-d, and only G-d. We do not bear a different message. Without this message, we have no other justification for our existence as Jews and as a state. Without this message, we lose our confidence in the justice of our existence here and turn into some sort of temporary crusaders in our Land.
To our sorrow, though, Israel’s leadership throughout the generations has fled its own message. ‘Who needs this whole Vatican?’ said Moshe Dayan after the liberation of the Temple Mount in 1967 and gave the keys to the Mount to the Moslem wakf. No diplomatic or military pressure forced him to do it – to hurriedly give the wakf the keys just two hours after the Temple Mount was liberated. How lucky for the Israeli leadership then that it had someone to whom to give the Temple Mount. Otherwise, Jews would have connected to their destiny, G-d forbid. They would have connected to the meaning of their existence here in this Land. They would even have built the Holy Temple, Heaven forefend.
What did we do with this priceless gift? What did we do with the place that G-d chose for His holy Presence? What did we do with the place that was given to us with miracles and wonders? We received a present with the gift-wrapping. We took the wrapping, the Western Wall, while we threw the present behind our backs, giving it to whoever would agree to take it.
If you would only agree, Knesset Members, to come with me for a visit on the Temple Mount – according to all the specifications of Jewish law, of course. I would show you how remnants of Solomon’s Temple and of the Second Temple are thrown about there, in the dust. If that is how we relate to the original, Mr. Chairman, maybe we should ask our maintenance workers here to deconstruct the Knesset menorah? If we throw the original behind our backs, why do we take pride in the symbol of the menorah?
Thus, behind the back of the nation, we surrendered any remnant of sovereignty on the Mount. Any terror organization can wave its flag there. But the Israeli flag? Heaven forbid. A chapter of Psalms? That is grounds for arrest. A chapter of Psalms recited by a Jew on the Temple Mount! The police even recommend to the Temple Mount visitors to remove the kippah from their heads. I do not know of any other state in the world where the police tell the Jews to remove their kippah. But on the Temple Mount, in the very heart of what we call ‘our eternally sovereign capital forever’, the police – the official authority – tell the Jews to remove their kippah.
“For my house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations,” says the prophet. And in the sovereign State of Israel, after we returned from an exile of two thousand years to our Temple Mount, only Jews are prohibited from praying at the site. And as always, when we flee our Land and our roots, we do not get peace in return, but increased violence. For it is not despair that motivates our enemies, but hope; the hope to drive us from the entire Land. And what awakens more of this hope than when Jews say that they have no more connection to the place that justifies our national existence in this Land? For the Temple Mount is like the heart in our bodies. In the words of the poet of admonishment and faith, Uri Tzvi Greenberg: He who controls the Mount, controls the Land.
Dear friends, much to our amazement, this is the first time that the Knesset of Israel is deliberating in the plenum on the question of sovereignty on the Temple Mount. Without the Mount, there is no home (editor: in Hebrew, the ‘Temple Mount’ is ‘the Mount of the Home’): not in Tel Aviv, not in Haifa and not in any other place. For without the Home, there is no purpose and no destiny for our sovereign existence in the entire Land. The time has come to stop the erosion of Israeli sovereignty in the very heart of Jerusalem.
Dear friends, we are in the midst of an amazing historical era. It is reasonable to assume that within the next decade, one and a half million olim will knock on our gates. Just look at what happened in the Ukraine this past week, where the leaders of the Jewish community there are calling upon the Jews to flee not only the capital, but the entire country. That is only the tip of the iceberg, in the face of the great changes taking place throughout the world. One and a half million Jews, ladies and gentlemen, are going to knock on our gates. The Romans have all disappeared, but the menorah that we kept in our hearts has maintained us for two thousand years. It will continue to keep us in the face of oncoming challenges. This menorah is not a museum artifact. It is the essence of our lives. Let us allow it to illuminate our path once again.
In the name of the Jewish Nation throughout the generations, I call here, from the Knesset podium, upon the government of Israel and its Prime Minister to actualize the full sovereignty of the State of Israel and on the entire Temple Mount. I call upon the government to immediately put an end to our enemy’s destruction of the antiquities and of our past at the site.
I call upon the government of Israel to stop the discrimination against Jews and their humiliation at the entrance to and on the Mount. And I call upon the government of Israel to allow free access to the Temple Mount to every Jew from all of its gates; and to allow prayer on the Mount as is to be expected from the very fact that the State of Israel is a Jewish state, as per the basic laws of the State of Israel. Thank you.