Conservative Jewish American political commentator Ben Shapiro visited the Temple Mount on Sunday where he prayed, along with his father, for the very first time.
Shapiro has visited the holy site in the past with his wife, but the couple was escorted outside the compound after a group of Jewish worshippers they arrived with started singing.
As a sacred place for both Jews and Muslims, the Temple Mount has been a major flashpoint for violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Under the current status quo, non-Muslims are only allowed to visit the site during certain days and times, but are prohibited from performing religious rituals such as praying and singing.
A recent attempt to overturn the policy and enable other religious groups – especially Jews – to pray failed to win in court.
A left-wing Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, lamented Shapiro’s prayer on the mount in a piece headlined, “A Conservative Against the Status Quo.” The article noted that “radical groups” have recently been praying there “with increasing frequency, sometimes under the protection of the police.”
Thank you @rabbiyehudalevi for bringing me up to the Temple Mt yet again.— Azi Fein (@azi_fein) July 25, 2022
Going up is so important and always an experience.
Yesterday we got to go up with @benshapiro and his crew.
🇮🇱✡️#Israel #Jerusalem @realDailyWire @emme_jay pic.twitter.com/aUPvHZjVAm
Shapiro, who is visiting the Jewish state with his family, told local media that “one cannot visit Israel without going up to the Temple Mount.”
According to the Joint Headquarters of the Temple Mount Organizations, the right-wing pundit and co-founder of The Daily Wire praised the positive progress that the site has underwent since his last tour.
Shapiro and his father, who is still commemorating the year of mourning for the passing of his mother (Ben's grandmother), were joined by Rabbi Shimshon Elboim the head of the Temple Mount Administration and guided by Rabbi Yehuda Levy, Media Director for Yeshivat Har Habayit.
Shapiro’s father was greeted with a special blessing, which says: "He who dwells in this house will be comforted and in the building of the temple we will be comforted."
In a video posted online, Shapiro is seen walking around the compound with the rabbis while a chant in Arabic can be heard in the background. Shapiro is overheard noting the bigotry “for simply walking up here.“ As he was talking to one of the rabbis, he thanked those “who have been doing all the hard work day by day to expand the access to the people who have an original claim“ to the site.
Levy thanked Shapiro for his contribution to the Temple Mount Yeshiva saying, “We are privileged to be here every day on the Temple Mount and maintain the Jewish character of the holiest place for the people of Israel. Every Jew who comes to the land of Israel should know that this place is the bedrock of our existence.”
During the height of violent riots between Palestinians and Israeli security forces at the Temple Mount last summer, Levy wrote a piece for Shapiro’s The Daily Wire website, which laid out the history of the Jewish connecting to the Temple Mount.
“The importance of the Temple Mount to the Jewish people cannot be overestimated,” he stressed. “It represents the hopes and dreams that have sustained them in spite of virtually insurmountable odds throughout the thousands of years of their history.”
Last week, Shapiro delivered a powerful speech in Tel Aviv in front of thousands of attendees, in which he defended Israel’s biblical morality and highlighted what America can learn from the Jewish state, and vice versa.
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.