Israel May Take Baby Step Toward Rebuilding Temple
With June marking the 50th anniversary of Israel’s reunification of the capital city of Jerusalem along with the Temple Mount, the Israeli government is considering a proposal to create a new foundation responsible for providing “research, information and advocacy” about the Jewish connection to what many consider the holiest site in all of Judaism – the place where the Temple stood until A.D. 70.
The Temple Mount Heritage Foundation was proposed by Culture Minister Miri Regev and Environmental Protection and Jerusalem Minister Ze’ev Elkin, with an annual budget starting at $550,000. It will be based on the government-funded Western Wall Heritage Fund, which administers the site adjacent to the Temple Mount – believed to be the retaining wall for the 35-acre foundation upon which the Temple was built.
The project is getting high praise from Israel advocates for rebuilding the Temple.
Rabbi Yehuda Glick, a target of an assassination attempt in 2014 for his Temple advocacy, said he welcomed the plan for a Temple Mount Heritage Foundation and has personally lobbied for its creation.
“We need to state clearly: The Temple Mount is the foundation of the history of the Jewish people and of the return to the land since the beginning of Zionism,” he said.
Temple Mount activism has become an increasingly prominent issue in the Israeli political debate, even as Arab Palestinians have sought to deny any connection between the site and the Jewish Temple – in some cases, aided by the United Nations.
The foundation proposal makes direct reference to the attacks on the historicity of the Temple Mount.
“In recent years the State of Israel has been facing a delegitimization campaign based on a distortion of facts regarding the history, tradition and culture of the Jewish people,” reads the explanation of the proposal.
“One of the peaks of this trend took place recently with the October 2016 UNESCO decision to attempt to nullify the connection of the Jewish people to the Temple Mount. In light of this trend, the government of Israel sees itself as responsible to prevent this disinformation and distortion of historical truth.”
The controversial UNESCO resolution used only Muslim names for the Jerusalem Old City holy sites and was harshly critical of Israel for what it termed “provocative abuses that violate the sanctity and integrity” of the area.
Lawmakers from both the right and left of the Israeli political spectrum slammed the decision and accused the U.N.’s cultural arm of anti-Semitism. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the decision “absurd,” while President Reuven Rivlin called it an “embarrassment” for UNESCO.
Today the Temple Mount is administrated by Jordanian Islamic clerical authorities, despite its recapture by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War.
Muslims, however, call it the Noble Sanctuary and believe it is the spot where their prophet, Muhammad, ascended to heaven. Some claim it as the third-holiest site in Islam that houses the Al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock shrine.
Jews and Christians are discouraged by Israeli authorities from praying on the Temple Mount so as not to enflame tensions with Muslims.
FL Student Suspended For Disagreeing With Muslim Professor
A conservative Christian student at a private college in Florida says he was suspended after he opposed his Muslim professor, who said that the crucifixion of Jesus was a hoax.
Marshall Polston, a 21-year-old sophomore, was suspended from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida in late March for being a “threat of disruption.”
According to the Central Florida Post, Polston said he challenged Professor Areeje Zufari during their Muslim Humanities class when she said that Jesus wasn’t crucified and that his disciples didn’t actually believe Jesus was God.
Polston said he was then given a grade of a 52 on his next essay.
“I was upset, understandably. I’ve never gotten anything less than straight A’s,” Polston said. “So, I was really interested in figuring out how to possibly improve or at least understand the grade.”
He spoke with the professor, but Polston said she then reported him to the college’s Dean of Safety.
In another of Zufari’s classes, during a discussion of Sharia law, a Muslim student argued that “a good punishment for gays, adulterers and thieves was the removal of a certain body part, as determined by Sharia law.”
His comments were not reported as unsafe, Polston said.
Later, Polston was asked to report to the dean’s office.
“They made it clear that they had not gotten a report about what the student said, and were more concerned about the danger I was causing to the campus,” Polston said. “What danger? A difference of opinion in a college classroom is nothing out of the ordinary and certainly not dangerous. It was surreal and degrading.”
Rollins College has not released a comment regarding the suspension.
NEWS IN BRIEF
- After 85 years in business, Family Christian is closing for good, shutting down all 240 of its retail stores. USA Today reports that the company, which had stores in 36 states, decided to close after facing declining sales following its 2015 bankruptcy protection filing. The Michigan-based company, which transitioned from a for-profit retailer to a non-profit ministry in 2012, blamed the closure on “changing consumer behavior and declining sales.”
- A company in Sweden is offering its workers microchip implants that function as swipe cards. According to the Associated Press, the cards, which are the size of grains of rice, are implanted in the hand of workers, and enable them to open doors, operate printers, or buy smoothies with the wave of a hand. The injections are so popular that employees often host parties for those willing to get chipped.
Canada’s New Transgender Rights Bill Could Threaten Religious Freedom
Gender identity could be added to Canada’s list of protected classes if the Canadian Parliament passes a bill. The bill extends “gender identity and gender expression” to the country’s protected classes under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
The enactment also amends the Criminal Code to extend the protection against hate propaganda set out in that Act to any section of the public that is distinguished by gender identity or expression and to clearly set out that evidence that an offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on gender identity or expression constitutes an aggravating circumstance that a court must take into consideration when it imposes a sentence. A committee in the Canadian Senate is considering the bill.
But free speech rights advocates are worried the bill could be used against groups, particularly religious groups. Harold Albrecht, a conservative party member of parliament, said the bill is a threat to many people.
“I am concerned that this bill would cause fear for many Canadians, fear that they would not be able to even discuss public policy issues, such as this one, on which they may disagree with the government-imposed agenda,” he said.
Canadian pastor Paul Dirks, who heads the campaign “Woman Means Something,” says the bill doesn’t allow business or schools to keep predators from using the bill to harm others.
“Our campaign doesn’t say trans-people are a risk to anybody, it’s saying predators are going to take advantage,” he said.
5,000 Jews Emigrate to Israel Following Terror Attacks in France
French Jews have been leaving France in greater and greater numbers and emigrating to Israel following increasing attacks on their communities.
According to ChristianToday.com, this year 5,000 Jews have left France to settle in Israel. This continues a trend seen over the last few years. In 2015, 7,900 Jews left France and in 2014, 7,231 left. Since 2006, a total of 40,000 Jews have left the country.
Although some experts say terrorism is not the reason so many French Jews are leaving the country, Daniel Benhaim, the head of The Jewish Agency of Israel, maintains that the threat of terrorism is the number one motivating factor for Jews leaving the country.
Four Jews were killed in the attack on the Jewish Hyper Cacher supermarket in eastern Paris the same day 12 people were killed in the Charlie Hebdo attacks which took place two years ago. Another attack occurred at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France in 2012, as well as a kidnapping and murder of a young Jewish man in Paris in 2006.
These incidents have reportedly contributed to the Jewish exodus from the country. However, France maintains one of the largest Jewish populations in Europe, with an estimated 500,000 Jews living there.