Guardian Jerusalem Syndrome: Giles Fraser fears Judaisation of Temple Mount

Jerusalem Syndrome: a group of mental phenomena involving the presence of either religiously themed obsessive ideas, delusions or other psychosis-like experiences that are triggered by a visit to the city of Jerusalem. 

The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday continued in its long campaign of incitement concerning the Temple Mount, condemning Jews who tour the holy site by suggesting that their visits represent a broader Israeli scheme to “Judaise” the site with the ultimate goal of rebuilding a Jewish Temple.

The PA-controlled media has specifically claimed that “hordes of settlers and Jewish extremists plan to storm and desecrate the Aksa Mosque” – part of a broader campaign of incitement by Islamist extremists in Jerusalem which has triggered several Palestinian riots at the Temple Mount over the past few months.


Wafa, official Palestinian News Agency, Sept. 4, 2013

The threat of riots last month around Ramadan, for instance, prompted Israeli police to close off the Temple Mount to non-Muslim visitors.

Lending polemical support to such an often repeated lie that Israel – which allows freedom of worship for all faiths at holy sites in Jerusalem – represents a threat to the Temple Mount (the holiest site in Judaism), is the Guardian’s Giles Fraser, whose latest piece at ‘Comment is Free’ is titled ‘An Israeli claim to Temple Mount Would Trigger Unimaginable Violence.’


Fraser’s essay includes the following:

Jewish access to Temple Mount has been strictly forbidden (by religious, not secular, law) for centuries – though some of the more secular Israeli nationalists increasingly want access simply to insist upon their jurisdiction over that part of Jerusalem. It was Ariel Sharon’s deliberately provocative visit to the Temple Mount on 28 September 2000 that sparked the second intifada. 

First, as we’ve demonstrated on several occasions, Fraser’s claim that Ariel Sharon sparked the second intifada is a complete lie, as evidence abounds that the violence was coordinated at the highest levels of the Palestinian government. As we noted, for instance, Yasser’s widow, Suha, admitted that her husband explicitly told her, in early 2000, that he was going “to launch an intifada.”


See video, here.

Moreover, contrary to Fraser’s suggestion in the passage, Jews already have access to the Temple Mount. Though Jews who visit are forbidden from praying there, the site has regular visiting hours, and is open to all faiths.  

Fraser continues:

The orthodox position has long been that the Temple can only be rebuilt and sacrifices resumed when the Jewish messiah returns. There have been a few dissenting voices to this consensus – most notably, Maimonides – but since the foundation of the state of Israel, the idea of Jews returning to Temple Mount prior to the arrival of the messiah has been the obsession of a tiny minority. And mostly, like Sharon, driven by secular political rather that theological concerns. But as Israel continues its shift to the right, these dangerous voices are now entering the political mainstream.

Whilst Fraser’s broad suggestion that Israel has been shifting to the right – a favorite narrative of the Guardian which was undermined by the results of the last election – is erroneous, his more central claim that support for rebuilding the Temple has reached the mainstream is absurd.  

Though some on the extreme right have supported the right of Jews to merely pray at the Temple Mount, the Jewish legal (halakhic) ban on visiting the site is supported by most orthodox Jewish leaders.  Additionally, the number of religious Jews who even visit the Temple Mount each year is tiny.  Further, only those on the extreme fringes of Israeli society seriously discuss rebuilding the Temple, a fact that Fraser himself alludes to in his subsequent passage:

It would be hard to overstate how dangerous an idea this is. The vast majority of orthodox rabbis have reiterated their opposition to it.

It would be dangerous if there was any chance that it was seriously being contemplated by Israeli political leaders, but that is clearly not the case. 

Finally, Fraser wouldn’t be a Guardian Left journalist if he didn’t include a gratuitous pejorative reference to “settlers”, so his essay includes this throw away line near the end:

But the settler mentality is now increasingly focusing on what is politically the most explosive site on the planet. If they succeed, a billion Muslims worldwide would go ballistic. 

It’s of course unclear what the ideological connection is between 350,000 Jews, both religious and secular, who live (for varying reasons) across the green line, and a tiny politically insignificant minority of Israelis who call for the Temple to be rebuilt.

Moreover, it’s remarkable how Fraser could write an essay about religious tensions at the Temple Mount without even mentioning the long history of ideological incitement by their political and religious leaders which continues to represent the root cause of such “tensions”.  Fraser, who has filed his last two reports while visiting the holy land, has joined the chorus of those on the far left who shamefully amplify the incitement, fear mongering and Jerusalem delusions of Palestinian extremists. 

20 replies »

  1. I have to correct you – its a demonstrable lie that Israel allows freedom of worship for ALL faiths in Jerusalem!

    Jews have actually been arrested for praying on the Temple Mount. Israel does not ensure religious freedom for Jews – in violation of its own laws.

    • It would be interesting to know what the people recommending this post understood “cleared” to mean here.

        • What if I wanted to visit the Temple Mount as thousands of tourists do? Would that be provocative? Would I then have a “settler mentality?”
          Would “a billion Muslims worldwide would go ballistic.”? I doubt it. I guess in Fraser’s world they’re not even expected to have even minimal control over their emotions. This is the racism of the anti-racists rearing its ugly head.
          Fraser has bought into a fake religio-political hysteria that Palestinian and others stir up and then promulgates it.

  2. Fraser’s article, a prime example of Guardianesque misinformation about Jerusalem, Israeli politics, the intifada and Judaism, was deservedly trashed by the majority of below-the-line comments. No wonder that the thread was hastily closed down.

  3. The irony is that the only power to historically protect ALL religious sites and acknowledge the right of all people to the freedom of religion. As a American Jew-who is against violence against civilians-like most Americans and Israeli’s, we have the right to visit our holy sites no matter who happens to be in power. Why Israel permitted the WAQF to continue to desecrate the Temple Mount is beyond me. Consider the bulldozers and the active destruction of ancient Israeli history. It has gotten so bad we have to sift through the trash to find these treasures. As far as I am aware, the only religion to have religious sites forbidden to others is Islam; as no non-muslim is permitted in Mecca. Imagine if Israel made Jerusalem illegal to Arabs, which would never happen out of the Jewish morality; but how the world would not remain silent as they do about Mecca being Islam exclusive. Consider that right now the PA is demanding the expulsion of Jews from the Jewish Quarter because it is because it is east of the green line, the 1948 armistice lines sometimes erroneously called the borders of 1967, yet the world is silent. At least the UN and America have proven to Israel it must be self sufficient. Israel will have to stick up for itself until moral global mechanism can come into place. (Heck, the UN is not even capable of defining ‘terrorist’, solely because any definition devoid of specific countries names or religions would fully exonerate Israel-and the IOC could never let that happen. Result, the UN, UNESCO and the UNHRC are all beyond jokes with no credibility. We will simply have to pray the world can make it past the term of President Obama so that the next President can restore the honor and prestige of America; unless the world falls into an apocalypse, as America is the worlds only chance! Russia, China, EU, etc clearly are not capable.

  4. The Arabs have occupied the site,deliberately,in a not unique act of triumphalism and domination,for centuries,and there hasn’t been “unimaginable violence”,which amply illustrates the difference between the two sides.
    But at least he tacitly acknowledges the willingness to achieve their aims through violence.
    Jews,in fact all non-Muslims meanwhile,of course,are allowed nowhere near the Kaaba;in fact,they’re not even allowed into Mecca;Jews are not even allowed into the country.
    Let this expletive write an article about that.

  5. The problem with this article is that it – like so many on CiFWatch – it’s primarily a politicised and highly biased opinion piece about the I/P conflict.

    CiFW complains about Guardian bias – while clearly displaying its own.

    • All human beings, by definition, are biased. And we all have our opinions. And of course, any opinion about politics is politicized by definition. But what is interesting here is that you didn’t point out what CiFW said was incorrect, you merely declared them “highly biased” and left it at that. Well, I guess you are done with your counterpoint then.

  6. I should just note that as an Orthodox Jew, I believe that the Halachic ruling against going into the Temple Mount area should be followed by all Jews. However, that is based on religious grounds and if it were not for that, there is no reason why a Jew should not be allowed there. The problem with Fraser is that he is mixing a religious argument into a political one. In other words, it is completely irrelevant to his point yet he still felt the need to mention it.
    One also wonders why if some benign action can be so provocative why he insists on pointing fingers at those who want to take such an action instead of those who are so intolerant that they would be provoked into violence.

  7. I would add that the Herodian extension to the Mount, which is clearly visible on the southern part (and on which the Al Aqsa Mosque was built as well as the underground mosque) is clearly outside the boundaries of the Temple and can be visited by religious Jews.

    I will now plug my video tour of the Temple Mount with Yisrael Medad so readers can understand where it is permissible to walk according to most authorities.