Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

U.S. congressmen on the Temple Mount shocked by discrimination against Jews


Shown here (l-r): Congressman Ron DeSantis and his wife, Casey Black DeSantis; Rabbi Chaim Richman, international director of the Temple Institute, and Congressman Andrew Harris and his wife, Sylvia "Cookie" Harris.

Two U.S. congressmen participated in a fact-finding mission of the Temple Mount last week. Congressmen Andrew Harris (R- Maryland) and Ron DeSantis (R-Florida) and their wives witnessed firsthand how non-Muslims are discriminated against at the holy site. Rabbi Chaim Richman, international director of the Temple Institute led the group, pointing out religious and historical landmarks along the way.

The group witnessed how outwardly looking Jewish groups are singled out and accompanied by both Jordan Islamic Waqf guards and Israeli police officers that scrutinize their behavior for signs of prayer or non-Muslim worship. In addition to the usual entourage, the congressmen were also followed by an Israeli intelligence officer that filmed their every move for much of the visit.

Both were clearly moved by the experience and expressed concern at the lack of religious freedom for Jews and Christians at the site.

Congressman Harris expressed his concern at the lack of religious freedom on the site. "It's a pleasure to be here on the Temple Mount, obviously an area of religious significance for many religions including Christians like myself, Jews and Muslims... but I'm actually surprised that access is so limited and especially the discrimination against Jews above any other religion in visits to the Temple Mount. It surprises me as an American, believing in religious freedom, that [such conditions] would exist."

"It was an honor to guide these two distinguished congressmen and their wives on the Temple Mount, holiest spot in the world, and focal point of mankind's spiritual aspirations," said Richman. "The congressmen, as part of a 'Jewish group,' were able to experience first-hand, what it is like to be victims of anti-Jewish discrimination. Were Jews to be treated in this manner in any other country, the State of Israel would protest vehemently against such grievous discrimination."

The congressmen are in Israel as part of a week-long visit organized by the Yes Israel Committee. The trip was arranged in conjunction with the YESHA Council, which represents the 375,000 Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria. In addition to the Temple Mount tour, highlights of the trip included Hebron, ancient Shiloh, Ariel University and various strategic outlooks that overlook 70 percent of Israel's population.


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