A US Congressman witnessed firsthand the harassment faced by Jews on the Temple Mount at the hands of Islamist activists last Wednesday.
A video released by the Temple Institute shows Republican Congressman Dennis Ross (FL-15) taking part in a tour of Judaism's holiest site along with Temple Institute guide Yitzchak Reuven.
The video clearly shows groups of fully covered female Muslim agitators following and harassing the Congressman and his group with calls of: "Allahu Akbar" and "Leave!" as well as statements proclaiming the "superiority" of Islam.
Jewish visitors are regularly subjected to similar harassment and abuse, which has on occasion escalated into threats and even acts of violence by Muslim extremists.
Recent reports have revealed how radical Muslim groups, including the Hamas- and Muslim Brotherhood-linked Islamic Movement, are paying groups of Muslim women specifically to stand at the site and harass Jewish visitors and stage provocations in an attempt to further restrict and even prevent Jewish visits.
The Congressman spent a full hour on the Mount accompanying a group of Jewish visitors led by Reuven, during which time he also experienced the discriminatory practices meted out to visibly Jewish visitors by authorities – both Israeli and Muslim.
As per usual, Jewish groups were separated and subjected to excessive security checks to ensure they had no non-Muslim religious items on their persons, after which they were followed closely by Islamic Waqf guards to ensure that they don't partake in any form of prayer or non-Muslim worship.
Despite numerous court rulings backing Jewish activists' petitions for equal rights at the Temple Mount, Israeli police forbid any forms of Jewish prayer on the site – despite it being the holiest site in Judaism – for fear of a violent Muslim backlash.
The sizes of Jewish groups are also severely restricted, and unlike Muslims – who can visit whenever they want – Jews are only allowed to ascend the Mount during a few hours each day.
Ross's group had to wait for over an hour before being allowed entry to the holy site, during which time hundreds of tourists ascended with ease.
In addition the congressman's son was taken into a private room and body searched to ensure that he wasn't in possession of any religious paraphernalia.
When asked on camera how he felt about the strange welcome he received, the visibly bewildered Congressman responded: "It's a little bit of a different reception than what I am used to, but coming from a country that respects freedom of religion we respect what they are doing."
He also commended the Jewish group for their perseverance and commitment to their own religious freedom at the site.
"It was a great honor to host Congressman Ross and his family on a tour of the Temple Mount, it was unfortunate that he had to witness the duress and harassment that Jewish visitors are subjected to on a daily basis," Reuven said after the tour.
Striking a defiant tone, Reuven noted that far from scaring Jews off, the Islamist campaign of harassment had only made many Jews more determined to visit the Temple Mount.
Indeed a poll conducted last November – after the attempted assassination of veteran Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick – showed increased interest in visiting as a direct reaction to Muslim violence there.
"It is important to note that these agitators receive direct payment from extremist Islamic organizations for their efforts to intimidate us, but they will not scare us away. The number Jewish visitors to the site continue to grow," added Reuven.
The Congressman was in Israel on a one week mission arranged by YES! to a Strong Israel.
The organization has brought many other members of Congress to Israel as well, and last year Congressmen Bill Johnson, (R-OH) and David McKinley (R-WV) had a similar experience of their own during a visit to the Temple Mount.
During the trip, Ross also met with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Cabinet Ministers and Members of Knesset, as well as members of the security community. Apart from his tour of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, he also took part in an IDF tour of sensitive military sites across the country.