The Temple Mount also known asThe Noble Sanctuary
“We cannot countenance a response to terror that resorts to wholesale demonization, advocates for the collective punishment of Israeli Arabs, or calls for the destruction or dismantling of Muslim holy places. Such rhetoric is anathema to the Jewish religious tradition and has no place in civil society. Such rhetoric is wrong and must be repudiated, whether it is voiced by lay leaders, community leaders or rabbis.”
Rabbi Pruzansky pulled the offensive essay and issued a “clarification” in which he claimed that he never wrote that all Arabs or all Muslims fell underneath the epithet “savages” by which he castigated the terrorists who had brutally murdered four rabbis and a Druze policeman in Jerusalem the previous week. That may be true—one can read the original sentence with several different interpretations—but exactly whom the Rabbi called “savages” isn’t the problem, only the symptom. The problem is the blatant racism that underlies Rabbi Pruzansky’s entry. While they may not be “savages,” Rabbi Pruzansky does not believe that Israeli Arabs or Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as are Jewish Israelis. The Rabbi wrote
“Measures need to be implemented that encourage Arab emigration — the payment of stipends, compensation for property, etc. They must be made to feel that that they have no future in the land of Israel — no national future and no individual future.” And Rabbi Pruzansky went far beyond this suggestion that the native Palestinian Arab population who have lived in the land long before Joshua led the descendants of Jacob into “The Promised Land” be pushed to give up their family homes and their patrimonial orchards and emigrate. He pushed the idea that any town or village from which terrorists came should be leveled and its entire population expelled. Moreover, he advocated that severe restrictions be placed on the civil and human rights of non-Israelis who remained in Israel. He further said that the Israeli police should use “live ammunition” against any demonstrating for Palestinian rights and that foreign reporters or cameramen have their notes and equipment confiscated so that they could not report on atrocities against the Palestinians. What provokes the demonstrations against the Israeli authorities is the forcible removal of Palestinians from their homes—as is currently happening in East Jerusalem—so that those homes can be destroyed and new homes be built for Jewish Israelis. Today’s Palestinian population are no johnnies-come-lately to Jerusalem and what is today the State of Israel but can be traced back to the Syro-Canaanite peoples who have inhabited the eastern end of the Mediterranean for over five thousand years. How can the fortunate nieces and nephews of the unfortunate Polish and Russian and Czech and German Jews who were forced from their homes and lost their businesses before being herded into work camps and death camps because their existence was not convenient to a political ideology built on racial hatred advocate this sort of State-terrorism?
Rabbi Pruzansky, like many others of a certain Jewish Orthodoxy, believe that the land of Israel belongs by Divine Right exclusively to the Jewish people and that all others, including those who have lived there for millennia, must vacate it. The Rabbi went so far as to demand that the Muslim Holy Places on the Temple Mount be closed and that the shrines—the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque be “uplifted intact and reset in Saudi Arabia, Syria or wherever it is wanted.” This opinion shows the Rabbi’s contempt for religions other than his own. The “Noble Sanctuary” is sacred to Muslims as was the Temple to Jews and for both religions its sacred character is linked to the specific site of Mount Moriah and is not interchangeable with any other place on earth for its specific religious significance.
This was not the Rabbi’s first racist rant. He was beside himself with fury at the 2012 re-election of President Barack Obama and attributed the President’s victory to voters “primarily from the Third World” who “do not share the traditional American values…” He went on to write “It is a different world, and a different America. Obama is part of that different America, knows it, and knows how to tap into it.”
Christians, Jews, Muslims all must learn mutual respect and tolerance. Christians, in their day, certainly have been guilty of bigotry and violence towards both Muslims and Jews, and no way occupy the moral high ground to lecture anyone else. The Crusades and the pogroms and the Inquisition are all tired chestnuts hurled accusingly against the Catholic Church—but, tragically, they are all historically accurate examples of religion gone rotten. Given our past, we Catholics are in no position to preach the necessity of respect for those of other religious persuasions, but by our example of tolerance and truth as mandated at the Second Vatican Council in Dignitatis Humanae and Nostra Aetate, and crowned by a proactive pursuit of charity and justice as indicated by Popes John Paul, Benedict, and Francis, we Christians must get the message out that violence and hatred are no solid ground on which to build the future. In the process of the sort of bigotry typified by Rabbi Pruzansky not only Judaism but all religion suffers a credibility gap. Perhaps the following quote from the Dalai Lama puts things into perspective.
Finally I would like to point out that the purpose of religion is not to build beautiful churches or temples; it is to cultivate positive human qualities such as tolerance, generosity, and love. Fundamental to Buddhism and Christianity, indeed to every major world religion, is the belief that we must reduce our selfishness and save others.
Many Catholics who share the religious arrogance of Rabbi Pruzansky would shrug their shoulders and condescendingly ask what the Dalai Lama or any other teacher outside their own faith tradition could possibly have to say to us who have received the teachings of Jesus. I suspect many Orthdox Jews would also wonder why one would look beyond the rabbinical tradition when G-d has spoken his Torah. Maybe we need to get over our prejudices and realize that Truth has never allowed any one source to hold the monopoly on it.