For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
There is much to critique about former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s New York Times op-ed “Peace Now, or Never” on the eve of the Palestinians’ request for statehood at the U.N. One seemingly minor point that highlights the absurdity of the article is his proposal regarding Jerusalem. “Neither side [Israeli or Palestinian] would declare sovereignty over the city’s holy places; they would be administered jointly with the assistance of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United States,” Olmert writes.
The idea of custody shared between Israel, Jordan, America and Saudi Arabia sounds appealing to the internationally minded, but upon closer examination, a more absurd idea could scarcely be found.
Imagine telling a child that Saudi Arabia should take part in administering holy sites in Jerusalem. This child might ask how Saudi Arabia administers its own holy sites. Does it, for example, allow people of all faiths equal rights?
The Saudi government, in fact, bans all non-Muslims from entering Mecca and Medina. It prohibits the importing of Bibles and the building of non-Muslim houses of worship. It imprisons men like Hadi al Mutif for nearly two decades for making a joke about religion. Days ago it beheaded Abdul Hamid Al Fakki for the crime of “sorcery.”
A 2010 U.S. State Department report on Saudi Arabia notes: “Freedom of religion is neither recognized nor protected under the law and is severely restricted in practice ...The government continued to commit abuses of religious freedom. Non-Muslim groups in different parts of the country were detained and harassed for worshipping privately ... The government continued to prohibit public, non-Muslim religious activities ...”
Should a government which systematically denies freedom of religion to its own citizens be invited into Jerusalem to uphold freedom of religion for others? Can one think of a more obscene proposal?
Ehud Olmert would be prohibited by the Saudi government from building a synagogue, importing a Torah and stepping foot in entire cities. And yet, he grovels for a Saudi role over overseeing Israel’s holiest sites.
Saudi Arabia is quite literally the last country on Earth that should be invited anywhere at any time to uphold and protect religious freedom.
I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"