‘Jim Crow laws’ on Temple Mount: Organization demands Jews be given right to use restrooms

“We cannot live in a countty where violating human dignity is a commonplace and daily occurrence,” the Beyadenu group said.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A group that advocates for Jewish rights on the Temple Mount has filed an official police complaint regarding the policy of forbidding non-Muslims from using the restrooms at the holy site, Israel365 reported Wednesday.

“We cannot live in a country where violating human dignity is a commonplace and daily occurrence,” Beyadenu director Tom Nisani told the site, which reports news about the country from a biblical perspective.

Forcing Jews to leave the Temple Mount to relieve themselves instead of using one of the two existing facilities was not only against the law, but inhumane, the complaint said.

“This absurd situation not only goes against basic human laws, including the [Basic] Law of Human Dignity and Freedom, but from a moral point of view, it is difficult to accept a reality in which a person, sometimes an elderly person and sometimes a child, is prevented from using the facilities for a long time,” Beyadenu said.

“Frequently, this is a person who suffers from medical problems and can be harmed from being prevented from using the restrooms. This is also humiliating and presents the possibility of the person defecating or urinating on themselves.”

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The group noted that the situation also violates the Israeli law barring discrimination in supplying services in public places due to almost any criteria, including age, sex, political affiliation, race – and religion.

Nisani said the banning of bathroom privileges for some visitors based on religion or ethnicity is reminiscent of the Jim Crow laws in the American South that existed for about 100 years – from the post-Civil War era until 1968 – which forbade blacks from using the same facilities as whites.

“Fighting for equal rights on the Temple Mount is the same as the civil rights movement in the 1950s,” he said. “But it is worse because we, the Jews, are doing this to ourselves.”

Jews gained the right to use drinking fountains on the Mount – another banned item of use for American blacks 75 years ago – in 2017, with the case going all the way to Israel’s Supreme Court.

“Restriction of movement, restricting the freedom of expression, restricting access to specific ethnicities and religions happen every day on the Temple Mount,” Nisani said. “We will act to change this reality by enlisting the Jewish people to fight for the Temple Mount to change this reality, one ugly policy at a time.”

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Although there are 11 gates open to Muslim, non-Muslims are allowed entry to the Mount only through one gate, for just a few hours a day, and are subject to body searches as all religious articles are banned. In addition, although there is a court-backed theoretical right for Jews to pray at their holiest site due to the universal right to practice one’s religion, in practical terms the police prevent it due to their fear of Arab rioting, and the courts have always ceded this right in the interest of “public safety.”

Beyadenu lawyer Daniel Shimshilashvili noted that although the complaint was submitted over a month ago, he has yet to receive an official reply. Ignoring the issue will not work for the authorities, he said.

“This is an illegal policy carried out by the police,” he said, and “if the police do not respond, we will be forced to file a petition with the courts.”