Why aren’t human rights groups defending Jews’ rights to visit the Temple Mount?
According to Palestine Today, this morning a a mob of Muslims managed to start a disturbance in order to “expel” a group of about 30 Jews who were visiting the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site.
The Aqsa Heritage Foundation has photos of the “settlers” being “provocative.”
As far as I can tell, not only do Jews have the right to visit and to pray on the Temple Mount, but if they wanted to build a synagogue there I cannot find anything in international law that wouldn’t support them wholeheartedly.
The overriding consideration in international law is the right to be treated equally, and barring Jews from the Temple Mount is about as discriminatory as possible.
Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights says:
Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
In addition, Article 20 seems to prohibit the insults and incitement that Muslims engage in towards Jews on the Temple Mount:
1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.
2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.
Moreover, the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief is filled with articles that would prohibit banning Jews from the Temple Mount:
No one shall be subject to discrimination by any State, institution, group of persons, or person on grounds of religion or other beliefs.
For the purposes of the present Declaration, the expression “intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief” means any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on religion or belief and having as its purpose or as its effect nullification or impairment of the recognition, enjoyment or exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis.
Discrimination between human beings on grounds of religion or belief constitutes an affront to human dignity and a disavowal of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and shall be condemned as a violation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and enunciated in detail in the International Covenants on Human Rights, and as an obstacle to friendly and peaceful relations between nations.
All States shall take effective measures to prevent and eliminate discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief in the recognition, exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms in all fields of civil, economic, political, social and cultural life.
All States shall make all efforts to enact or rescind legislation where necessary to prohibit any such discrimination, and to take all appropriate measures to combat intolerance on the grounds of religion or other beliefs in this matter.
From these articles it appears that Israel is obligated to allow Jews to visit and pray there, and to protect them from those who want to take away their rights.
It is true that this same declaration says:
Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
But this clause is referring to cases where the practitioners of the religion are the ones who are a danger to others, not when the others are so intolerant that they threaten violence. To invoke this paragraph to deny Jews’ rights to the Temple Mount (which I suspect human rights organizations would do if pressed) would make the rest of that declaration a mockery.
Of course, we will never hear Human Rights Watch or Amnesty or the UN dare to defend the Jewish right to worship on the Temple Mount. Because Jews who want to do so are not considered to be worthy of protection by international law, apparently.
(I hope to expand this into a paper for ASHREI-ME.)