O’ Temple Mount

I know that most  of our readers have heard much about the dismal situation on our holiest site – the Temple Mount but today when I was there it really came home.
I went  to the mikva and wore non leather shoes as halacha prescribes. Then there were the humiliating preparations. I was told by our guide that since we are a Jewish group, we will be closely scrutinized by the Israeli police at the entrance. Any sign of Jewish identity would be reason to detain us yell at us, demand our ID and ban us from entering. And so, no kipa,no tzitit and certainly no dangerous contraband as a siddur or Tihilim. A magan david  design on ones  hat is also forbidden.

We were  the only Jews waitng on  the line. I saw a  non Jewish person have his Bible confiscated. Nothing but Muslim religious articles allowed on the site of the Holy Temple.
It seems that there is one particular loud, bossy and rude police office who runs the place and sets the ugly tone. He does his job just as his bosses like. He  ordered  a map of the Bet  Hamikdash confiscated and began yelling threatening us ..claiming that we were planning to make trouble. Our guide just lowered his head  and absorbed the abuse as the other  Gentile tourist looked on at the spectacle of Jews beng humiliated by Jewish police  at our holiest site.
. I could not help but think how far we have come from the moment of grace God gave us in 1967 when Am Yisroel were thrilled  as “The Temple Mount is in our hands!!”

Not long  ago, a religious Jew who made the mistake of not disguising himself as a Gentile, had his bottle of water confiscated because the police claimed… he  might make  a bracha on the Mount…

Well, we were finally on the Mount  and were the only  Jews there. The area is huge  – seventeen foot ball fields!.
There  were a number of tourist groups and lots of Muslims. Some of them were having classes , some were strolling. Others were playing soccer. They were all at home. The Muslim authorities (Waqf) eyed us suspiciously. They  knew when they smelled Jew. They were on their walky talkies and signaled to each other all over the mount. Were  we going to move our lips in prayer, bow in the direction of the holy  of Holies or do some other Jewish thing.?.
We continued our walk around the perimeter of the Mount – in the areas that halacha allows one to tread witnessing the places where our people have come up to for many centuries when Am Yisroel were indeed home  and acted like it.
There was panic  for  a brief moment in our group when I took off my hat to wipe my brow – and ..my kipppa was visible! Imagine. In the very heart of Yerushalayim.
What  have we done to ourselves?!

In the year 2000 , Prime minister  Ehud Barak agreed to  the Waqf’s  request to make an emergency exit for  the Al Aksa mosque. They brought up bull dozers, mack trucks and guted  the belly of the southern part of the mountain. That was some emergency exit. When the dust settled a few years later they had built under ground, the  largest mosque in Israel. Done.
The had extracted tons of dirt and rock, destroying precious  remains of the Temple and  then threw the whole lot in a garbage dump.Those remains are now being sifted to salvage what can  be saved from the destruction.

During the brutal  and unsurpevised  earth moving, the very walls of the mount began to buckle. This is when the Isaeli authorities woke up and insisted that  the ancient southern support wall be attened to and strengthened. The Waqf insisted that no impure Infidel will touch any thing on their holy site,  and so a Jordanian team is doing the job, in a rather unasthetic manner I might add.

What can I say? Rabbi Akiva and his fellow rabbis saw the Mount and Temple in its ruins with foxes running about He laughed. His colleagues asked, “what are you laughing at”. He answered ,” Just as the prophet said there will be a destruction, he also said there will be  a rebuilding and redemption.”

I saw the foxes today. I would have liked to  laugh but it wasn’t  the Romans who were responsible for the desecration  and destruction. It was our own. We gave the keys back to our enemies  and tormentors  only moments after he greatest miracle since the Exodus.
Yes, we are in the midst of the time of redemption.
Yes, we have indeed come a long way.
Yes, the prophets have foreseen it all.

Rabbi Akiva you have comforted me.

My articles

Shalom Pollack

Happy Birthday little miracle!

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Always go with a winner

Tonight the normally quiet Galilee village of Abu Sinen is trying to keep the lid on a vicious town brawl ...
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Dirty shoes

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Jewish lives matter

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Jewish lives matter

Detained minor: “A policeman punched me.” Sunday, September 11, 2016, 19:47 Honenu filed a urgent complaint with the Police Investigation Unit on behalf of a detained minor who complained that a policeman punched him at the police station after another policeman threatened him. The sixteen-year old youth was detained for interrogation on the morning of Sunday, September 11 after he ascended the Temple Mount. The policemen claimed that as the minor was leaving he walked backwards and bowed slightly towards the site of the Holy of Holies. According to the complaint filed by Honenu ( the angelic organisation that offers free legal aid to Jewish soldiers and civilians facing the heavily  biased security/legal establishment)  Attorney Menasheh Yado, when the minor arrived at the Department of Holy Sites Police Station escorted by two policemen, one of them impatiently hurried him to sit on a bench and ordered him to, “Sit, sit, before I break your bones!” and the other policeman punched him in the stomach. Then the minor was interrogated and released with an order distancing him from the Old City of Jerusalem for 15 days. Another minor detained the same morning after prostrating himself at the exit from the Temple Mount was released and summoned to a deliberation on the police demand to order him distanced from the area. In the complaint Honenu Attorney Menasheh Yado filed with the Police Investigation Unit, he wrote, “This is an incident of police brutality on a handcuffed minor who did not use any violence, neither at the police station, nor in general. I sincerely hope that your investigation and objective work will lead to a reduction in complaints about police brutality at the Department of Holy Sites Police Station.” Yado also mentioned that this was not an isolated incident of misconduct by Merchav David (Old City) District policemen in their treatment of Jews on the Temple Mount. When I read this report, it did not shock me as it should.  I am getting used to it. That angered me even more. This is one of the(far too many) articles I try not to have fall into the hands of my non Jewish readers. I am so ashamed! When  I was  a teen in Brooklyn, NY, I did not fear the cops. We were  so proud when we discovered the rare Jewish policeman. It was a foretaste of what a Jewish country would look  like I thought. I remember jumping  a turnstile in the subway. The cop caught me and I remember well, feeling a  mixture of embarrassment and slight fear. Imagine If he  would detain me for moving my lips in prayer..? Never  happen  – in America; but in the heart of Jerusalem! – by Jewish cops (well, many most are Arab in the old city  – yet  another scandal). Which is worse;a Jewish cop beating a Jewish teen for moving his lips in prayer, or an Arab cop doing the same? Not a dilemma that I faced in Brooklyn.  This hurts. Who the hell is giving these orders? Israeli cops have their hands full with real policing and security issues, Intimidating ,arresting and beating  young idealistic Jews for expressing the same fundamental right of any Muslim or Christian in any part of our Jewish country is an on going Jewish  horror. Why am I so flabbergasted? Have I not witnessed the brutality of Gush Katif and Amona and dozens of smaller  super ugly episodes? I have seen the bald headed, arrogant police commanders who exactly what their  political bosses want of them. In the gross language that their  underlings understand well, they  unleash the dregs (the commanders know who exactly to call upon for the dirty work) upon the finest souls that we have. I know this sounds harsh but I guess if my son were punched in the stomach and threatened with broken bones because he moved his lips in prayer, I would be even harsher. Besides, I am encouraged by my mentor of blessed memory, to tell it like it is. Hiding the truth solves nothing. Still, I hope that my non Jewish friends do not read this.

Dirty shoes

As I stood for the two minute Holocaust memorial siren, my mind flooded with heavy thoughts. As the siren winded down. I slowly lifted myself out of my pain as I reminded myself where I am and that I have thank God, children and grandchildren in our Jewish country.

They say life is a roller coaster. For most nations it is maybe the junior coaster at “Bob’s kiddy park” . For us it always the “Cyclone” in Coney Island.
And the thing is. the ride never ends…You would think that there might be other  waiting their turn, but no, we get to keep riding over  and over again.

This time of year in Israel is indeed a time of compressed emotional storm. Holocaust memorial day:out of the ashes of the worst event in human history. Memorial day:remembering the fallen of the first Jewish national  army in two thousand years. Finally. Independence day; pinching ourselves to make sure that we are truly living this miracle of  a place.

Such mixed feelings. Such a mixed brew.
Tragically, it was on Holocaust memorial eve when, once again, an Arab used his car to run down two Jews in Jerusalem; two special young people who were planning to raise a beautiful Jewish family in Israel.
Much has been said about the very sweet young man, Shalom Sherki, may his blood be avenged, but then again we have heard far too many words of praise for far too many murdered Jews in our Jewish land. His friend, who he saved with is body, is fighting for her life just now.

Recently one sees increasing numbers of concrete barriers at bus and train stops in Jerusalem as Arabs have discovered a new weapon with which to kill Jews.
 Similarly, the extensive building of bomb shelters for those living near Gaza and the building of the “security fence” along Israel’s “border” with the Palestinian Authority are supposed to protect us.

Woe unto us. Who ever dreamed of the Jewish people hiding behind concrete in our renewed beloved land? Is this the best we can do?
Must we look on in fear of every Arab car or tractor? Am I missing something?
The very sad part is that this relatively new phenomenon is being accepted much like the earlier form of attempted murder, massive stone throwing. It is treated like bad weather or bad luck. It happens and certainly will happen again.
Shimon Peres used to call it “the price of peace”. It wasn’t always this way.

We stand for moments of silence, with thoughts of “never again” or, “may their blood be avenged.” Who will save the blood yet to be spilled?
Who  will be  brave enough to say, enough. Is not our right to life not dearer than any other “right”..

These thoughts filled my mind as I sat on the bus today.
Along side the seats that face each other is a sign forbidding the resting of ones feet on the opposite seat. ( I often wonder what goes through the mind of a person who actually does put  his dirty shoes on the opposite upholstery, but I often get a shrug at best when I ask.)

Today I saw a young man, rubbing his shoes into the opposite seat.
As I often do, being a concerned citizen, I nodded to him, hinting that he should find a more appropriate place for his shoes.
He chose  to make a disparaging, taunting gesture. At this point  the fellow travelers were aware of the exchange. Probably  because he was an Arab, the  folks did not want  to “get involved” and dug their noses deeper into their phones or changed their seat.

There is  a fear. A fear  that did not exist  years ago. I remember.

The Arab scoffed,” is this your bus”?
 “It is my country and I care”, is what I thought, but I knew that if I made an issue I would anger lots of Jews on the bus who just wanted to get home. I feared they would yell at me and thus cause a real desecration of God’s name and national shame.
So, I relented, and the Arab put his dirty shoes on the seat..  and deep into our national  face, just  twenty four hours after another Arab ran down our  holy Shalom Sherky..

We hide behind barriers and look away…

It wasn’t always this way. And so, at this time of year I pray that we will tear down the walls and raise up our heads to the One who finally brought us home and stand tall for the many Shaloms, who deserve better.

Always go with a winner

  pollock toursTonight the  normally quiet Galilee village of Abu Sinen is trying to keep the lid on a vicious town brawl that has led  to dozens of serious injuries

Abu Sinen is a “mixed village”. Originally Druze, the majority are Muslims today.

The Druze are  a minority  sect found  in parts of the Mid East with  communities in Lebanon, Syria ,Jordan and Israel.
 The Druze  are an  ethnic and linguistic Arab  group  but cling to their own  secretive religion as their founder, Al  Daruzi, broke  away  from Islam in the Middle Ages.
The Muslim world has never forgiven the Druze  for this act of apostasy and treason and so the Druze  have carefully  kept  the details of their  religious  dogma a secret to the hostile out side world. They have also historically chosen the protective mountainous areas for their homes thus keeping the Muslim majority safely at arms length.

In 1948, as the beleaguered Jewish population of Israel fought off the combined Arab forces, the Druze at first chose to “go with the obvious winner”, the Muslims. However, after being bloodied in a key battle for the Galilee, the Druze reconsidered and withdrew  from the war remaining  neutral.

After Israel’s victory, the Druze leaders requested to make a pact with the new Jewish state and offered their sons to serve in the IDF which they do with distinction until today.

They are  often found in the Para military units responsible with  security vis a vis the Arab populations since they are familiar with the language and culture.
Often when an Arab riot got out of hand and IDF troops were not effective, the very sight of a Druze manned jeep was enough to disperse the threatening crowd. They understood each other.

The violence in Abu Sinan is actually a very helpful window into what is happening in Israel these days.

We have been witness to a surge in Arab attacks on Jews in all parts of the country. Tractors, cars, knives, gasoline bombs. what ever is   handy, maims and kills is a weapon in the service of their rage.

Why are they outraged? Take your pick. The latest  and well tried issue is the Temple  Mount which Israel  has abdicated  to the Muslim “sensitivity/rage  long  ago. Jews are not allowed to pray there( and are treated like criminal suspects by Israeli  police in the service of the Muslim Wakf ) if they dare to  enter during the three hours allotted daily.
 But this too, the Arabs have decided enrages them.
As an expression of this sensitivity, Arabs have murdered and maimed a number of Jews at train and bus stops this past two weeks.
In solidarity, Israeli Arabs have also launched violent demonstrations and joined the rage, attacking Jews, pulling them out of cars and torching them. They fly the flags of “Palestine” , Hamas  and ISIS.

Israel’s response?  Prime Minister Netanyahu keeps reassuring the world that  the “status quo” on the mount will be  maintained.
 He was summoned to Amman to make this assurance before John Kerry and to King Abdulah of Jordan who has a say about what goes on in the heart of Jerusalem. (Weren’t they the one who lost the iSix Day War??)

The other response is the placing of huge concrete blocks at the train stations to make it harder for cars to plow into the crowds.(..brought to you by the ones who introduced the security fences, tunnels, cameras etc…).  
And so we can expect even greater restrictions on Jewish visitors to the Mount.
Bottom line; Israel lost this round too. The result of the latest Jewish blood letting is that Jews are more restricted, humiliated and the Arabs empowered and ensured that their rage will continue to be appeased and feared.

Back to Abu Sinan. This  is another result or  rather a barometer of the general Muslim – Jewish conflict. This is the first time  that  the Muslims  are bold enough to  openly attack the armed, hated, envied, apostate Druze,
If the Jewish state, ally of the Druze, can not/will not  protect their own, that is  is one thing . When the Druze see that they are fair game to an old rival, they will have to consider joining the winners once again. This time it is not the Jews.

Happy Birthday little miracle!

Shalom Pollack

Shalom PollackHappy Birthday little miracle!

It is Independence Day; our sixty ninth. Not bad for a tiny country smaller than Lake Michigan under threat of annihilation every day of each those years.

The stats are nothing short of miraculous.

Israel boasts the best milk cows in the world; same for wheat production per acre dates per tree. And the unbelievable list goes on This tiny desert land and its people break the mold. It is an anti history phenomenon.

I met a group of Vietnamese at the Kotel last month. This was the first group I have ever seen in Israel from that country.

I mentioned that to one of them. He said,” No we are no tourists. We are a group of selected farmers here to learn about farming from Israel.”

They are a country of one hundred million, farmers for millennia with the best soil in the world and they come to learn farming from a handful of Jewish desert farmers who just returned to the soil very recently…

Shall we talk high tech? No need. We all know that Israel is a high tech super power.

Medicine? water technology..?optics, software, nana space technology, miniature satellite innovation?

Israel’s emergency aid teams are always first on the scene to help when natural disasters strike.

The world is witness that indeed a hand full of Jews fulfills the Biblical statement that the Jews will indeed be a blessing for the world.

So why does Iran want to destroy us. Our Arab neighbors? Why the hate from Europe? Why does the family of nations at the UN have it in for us?  Why? Why?

This too has been prophesied, just as the ingathering of the exiles has been prophesied.

It is all unfolding very quickly and it is exciting.

I just finished guiding a group of six Chinese young professionals. They were a high tech. bunch and very curious about the tiny country they chose to visit.

Some takeaways:

They said that the Chinese and the Jews are the smartest people on earth.

They feel that Israel and China has much in common; strong family ties, very long traditions and history, not understood by the world, surrounded and threatened by enemies.

I thought the last one was cute.

They do not care much for Arabs or Muslims. They see them as backwards and crude. (Don’t blame me!)

I do not see Sharia law being discussed in China for some time or them being woken by Mosque loudspeakers (as I  am) in the near future.

They understand that their country is not a democracy but “only a strong leadership can keep China united and prevent civil war. Interesting.

They do not know much about Tiananmen Square other than that “outsider instigators” were trying to weaken China through the students.

I did not even mention Tibet.

They are very proud of their country’s accomplishments and accept the price paid in the lack of western style freedoms.

Mao is a national hero who saved and united China. The Cultural Revolution was a mistake in which Mao was misguided by advisors.

Sixty million dead was not a good thing but nothing is perfect.

These are the thoughts of my young Chinese professionals.

They reminded me of a story I heard a few years ago.

An Israeli general was invited for an official visit to China. He commented to his Chinese counterpart that he is jealous of china. Why?, asked his host.

Because as huge as your country is, you would fight forever and not relinquish even one grain, right? Of Course answered the Chinese general.

Well, my tiny country is trying its best to give away huge parts of it…

This made me ask myself,” are the Jews and Chinese really the two smartest people in the world..?”

Somebody is looking after us out there; sometimes despite us.

The first sixty nine years are always the most challenging.

It only gets better.

Happy birthday to you; you little miracle!.