Illustration (Image credit: Wix)
A large organized group of Muslim women called the Murabitun specialize in harassing Jews as they visit the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. Their abuse and rioting led them to be outlawed, which has only had limited effect in halting their activities.
But now it would appear they are being joined by a new force – the “Haredi Murabitun,” as Jewish nationalist activist Bentzi Gopshtain termed them while sharing in a tweet alarming footage of them in action at the entrance to the Temple Mount.
מוריבטאן חרדי Video courtesy of Bentzi Gopshtain/@kahane_zadak 23 Aug 2017
The video shows six Haredi Jewish women holding scarves to cover their faces and protect their identities, as they use whistles to make incredibly obnoxious sounds in an attempt to force Jews waiting to enter the holy site to turn back through sheer annoyance.
Commenting on the video, Gopshtain, who serves as head of the Lehava anti-assimilation organization, wrote: “New! Haredi Murabitun at the gates of the Temple Mount try to disturb those ascending the Mount.”
The new phenomenon comes in the context of a larger debate in Judaism about whether or not one can visit the site, where the First and Second Temples once stood. Briefly, the debate revolves around the danger of karet, or spiritual excision, given that without the restoration of certain practices everyone currently is in a state of spiritual impurity, and karet is the punishment for entering certain areas of the Temple in such a state.
However, there are areas that are known to be safe to enter according to all opinions, and groups such as the Temple Institute have extensively researched the issue in arguing that visiting the site is indeed possible. They note that the famous medieval Jewish legal scholar Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, known as the Rambam, recorded his visit to the site just under 1,000 years ago.
The Murabitun that Gopshtain mentioned refers to a group whose name means those conducting ribat, which is a religious conflict over territory claimed by Islam. The group was banned in September 2015, the same year its patron, the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, was also banned.
However, the ban hasn’t stopped the Murabitun from their hostilities against Jewish visitors to the site. The Northern Branch continued paying the Murabitun to assault and riot even after both groups were outlawed, with an indictment coming in late 2016 against several Northern Branch members involved in continuing to channel funds to the group.
It can be hoped that the “Haredi Murabitun” will be a less violent and more short-lived phenomenon than their Muslim counterparts.