Tough Temple Mount security: For a non-Muslim, it’s been that way for years

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On the left are photos from security near the Western Wall. The long line of tourists (bottom left photo) are waiting to go through a security check from Islamic policemen who have authority over the Temple Mount. The wooden platform (center left) was built to accommodate tourists as they wait for a security hut (top left) to open. The new metal detectors (right photo) have been placed outside of the Temple Mount area near the Lion’s Gate. Only Muslims are allowed to enter here. Click on the photo for a larger version.

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Maybe you’ve seen some of the news footage coming out of Jerusalem in the past few days. Massive protests have erupted in Jerusalem near the Lion’s Gate and throughout the West Bank because of new security measures installed by Israel. Some protestors have died. Many protestors and some Israeli forces have been injured. It’s a little crazy, to say the least.

The new and “controversial” security measures aren’t unusual. In simple terms, we’re talking policemen and metal detectors. You’ll find similar treatment in the world’s airports, museums, sporting arenas and at concert venues.

And get this. Such security measures aren’t even unusual on the Temple Mount.

In fact, if Muslims think it’s too much trouble to visit the Noble Sanctuary, they should try getting to the famous site as a visitor.

If you’re a non-Muslim tourist, you’ll need to wait in a long line (plan on 90 minutes) for a thorough security check. You can’t take a weapon with you. You can’t take a tripod. You can’t take Jewish religious items. You might be refused entrance. You’ll have to show an Islamic officer your passport.

The tough security for visitors is on the exact opposite end of the Temple Mount itself. Perhaps some of the protestors should spend some time there, no?

The hassle is why I haven’t taken a group to the Temple Mount in more than a decade. You can see the entire area from the nearby Mount of Olives and once you’re on the plateau, you can’t enter the Dome of the Rock.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad I’ve walked around on the plateau a few times.

I just hate the security check.

Still, I understand it. It’s a flashpoint for trouble. To many people, it’s the center of the world. Any change is going to upset someone.

Time for some plain talk. There’s only one reason why Muslims in Israel are upset that tougher security measures are in place for Muslims wanting to visit their most famous mosque.

It’s because Israeli police are in charge.

It’s that age-old hatred. It’s the kind of hatred that led three Israeli citizens of Palestinian origin to shoot and kill two Israeli policemen to death two Fridays ago, which led to the metal detectors being put in place. It’s a measure long overdue, frankly.

The mistake on Israel’s behalf was not involving Islamic leadership in the decision and implementation of new security measures. The metal detectors were clearly installed as a bit of retribution for the murders. They were a show of force designed to send a message as much as they were to prevent future attacks.

I hope the leaders on both sides of the issue can turn this sorry turn of events into something positive.

In the meantime, take a book with you if you want to visit the Temple Mount. It’s tough security on our side of the street.