Yehuda Glick is Running With The Likud – Surprised?

It's been four months since veteran Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick was gunned down in an attempted assassination in Jerusalem. Four bullets fired by an Islamic Jihad assassin pierced his body, and for days he hovered between life and death.

Since then, he has astonished doctors with his rapid recovery, although he still has a long and arduous rehabilitation process ahead of him. More amazingly still, despite struggling with the physical effects of the attack, Glick has proven more determined than ever to achieve his life's mission: equal prayer rights for Jews on the Temple Mount – which, despite being Judaism's holiest site, is one of the few places in the world where Jews are forbidden to worship due to Muslim pressure and threats of violence.

Despite focusing most of his energy on his recovery process, Glick is already back in action, and has appeared at several public events in the past few weeks alone, including at Arutz Sheva's 12th annual Jerusalem Conference this week.

"Thank God I'm still here and I will not be quieted," he vows. "I will continue to stand for Am Yisrael (the Nation of Israel) and Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel)."

But the threats are still there.

Our interview is conducted over the phone; Glick still lives at an undisclosed location and is constantly accompanied by an armed bodyguard, provided not by the police – who have been criticized over their unwillingness to adequately protect Glick both before and after the attack – but by private supporters. The police do, however, provide him with "daily" updates of intelligence on jihadist "chatter" concerning him, as well as a direct emergency hotline for him to alert them of any suspicious activity he notices. He has already used the hotline "a few times," he says. 

Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups "weren't happy with the results" of the failed assassination, he tells me wryly, "so I'm still on their list."

But apart from this indefatigable activist's resumption of public activity per sa, more intriguing for some observers has been his particular decision to join the Likud party's election campaign, standing in the practically unrealistic but highly symbolic number 33 spot on the party's Knesset list.

"Intriguing", because for a man who has spent much of his life – and nearly sacrificed it – fighting to end the "status-quo" on the Temple Mount, opting for the party whose leader has been determined to preserve Muslim control over the Mount may not seem like the obvious choice.

Yet Yehuda Glick has in fact been an active Likud member for many years – since 1997 to be exact – and he insists that not only is there no contradiction in him doing so, but that in his opinion the Likud party is the only real hope for those battling for Jewish Temple Mount rights.

While many people understandably view Glick through the singular lens of the Temple Mount, in our conversation it is immediately clear that his worldview is far more holistic. The struggle for the Temple Mount is not to be taken in isolation; "It's an integral part of my Zionism," he explains.

"Many people may refer to me as a one-subject person… only via the Temple Mount… and it's true that I've been very active," he says.

"But part of my activity on the Temple Mount is about my faith in the nation of Israel and in human rights," which drew him to the Likud because "I think that the Likud has always been a party of inclusion, a home for every type of Israeli irrespective of background."

"Likud is still the national movement to better our nation, and I firmly believe that nothing else comes close."

In his view, stable government is critical for the progress of Israeli society in all aspects of life – including vis-a-vis the Temple Mount situation. That stability, he insists, is prevented by the multitude of smaller parties, "despite their best intentions". In his view, change can only come through a major party which has enough of a mandate to chart a decisive path through Israel's notoriously choppy political seas.

His view of Israeli politics in many ways sounds similar to that of Moshe Feiglin, a personal friend of Glick's whose often fraught relationship with the Likud party recently came to an acrimonious end. Glick, however, is unfazed by Feiglin's failures. The idea itself is above the individual successes or failures of any individual to implement it, he maintains.

At the same time, he notes that regarding the Temple Mount campaign specifically "there are more people who go up from the Likud than any other party," citing Miri Regev, Ze'ev Elkin and Tzipi Hotoveli as a few prominent examples.

"I'm still here, and I won't be quieted" Yehuda Glick

But what about Binyamin Netanyahu himself? As busy as those undeniably dedicated Temple Mount campaigners like Regev – as well as those from other parties, such as the Jewish Home – have been in drafting legislation to end the discriminatory measures against Jews on the Temple Mount, the Likud leader and PM has been equally busy ensuring those bills don't make it through.

So isn't he part of the problem?

"It's true that there is a lot more that Israel could do, that he could do" to change the situation, Glick admits. But on the other hand, "I also have to remember that in spite of my personal desires, Netanyahu has a wider perspective as prime minister."

In particular, there is Israel's need to maintain its strategic relationship with Jordan amid an increasingly uncertain Middle East. Indeed, with ISIS on the Iraqi-Jordanian border, many security analysts note that Israel and Jordan have a mutual interest in maintaining the Hashemite kingdom as a bulwark against the march of the so-called "Islamic State." In recent weeks, ties between the two countries have reportedly tightened for that very reason.

And yet the cost of that relationship is considerable. Under the terms of Israel's peace treaty with Jordan, the Jordanian-run Islamic Waqf trust – the very party insisting on barring Jews from the Temple Mount, even as it actively works to Islamize it by destroying ancient artifacts – maintains full control over Judaism's holiest site.

So faced with such an impasse, how does Glick see a way forward?

Patience, for one thing.

"Sometimes I hear people say: 'When is the Messiah going to come?' So I say to them: 'What do you mean? He comes around every election!" he quips.

"One time it's Yair Lapid, then it's Moshe Kahlon. There are always these small messiahs who want to tell you how terrible the situation is and how they are going to change the world.

"But changing the world is a process," and the way to achieve such revolutionary change is via "a big party which deals with many other topics as well," he adds.

Like other Temple Mount activists I have spoken to in the past, Glick – who has been involved in the struggle for 25 years now – is markedly positive in spite of the challenges, and points to the immense progress made over the past several decades. He recalls how when he first got involved "the Temple Mount was a marginal issue; today, it's mainstream."

"When I began 25 years ago we were only a handful of people – today there are tens of thousands of Jews visiting the Temple Mount."

"Every day we're advancing a few more steps, a few more centimeters, towards a revolution," and that is mainly due to the adoption of the cause by members of a "mainstream" party like the Likud, he insists. 

But apart from anything else, Glick emphasizes that in a democratic society such as Israel, the will of the people – the general public – is crucial. 

Until now, he has only exchanged "a few short sentences" with the prime minister, although other senior Likud MKs like Regev and Yariv Levin have discussed the Temple Mount issue with him themselves.

For now, he is focusing on raising public awareness and building a popular movement, and is confident that "when Binyamin Netanyahu feels that the people want a change on the Temple Mount, it will be a very different ball game."

Ironically, since the attempt by Islamist terrorists to permanently silence him, Glick has received more coverage than ever before. Countless articles have been written about him and the Temple Mount campaign, and he has managed to reach out to millions of people through scores of interviews on major TV stations, including the BBC.

In that respect, he sees a parallel between the jihadist attack on him, and the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris. 

Despite the murder of so many of their staff "they didn't close down the newspaper but vice-versa – instead of printing 30,000 copies like they usually did they produced 7 million."

It was a gesture of defiance which – though not adopted by everyone – was extremely important.

"People understood that we cannot bow down to terror, and that we have to show zero tolerance to terror," Glick said, calling on Jews in Israel and abroad to react similarly to Islamist violence over the Temple Mount.

"The situation on the Temple Mount today is based on the fact that the police are openly afraid to stand up to the radical Islamists," he says.

It's a struggle Glick is convinced can be won, and he looks to examples in Jewish and wider world history as inspiration.

"People call me a fundamentalist. Yes, I'm very fundamentalist in my belief in democracy, I'm very radical in my belief when it comes to human rights."

"In the early days of Theodore Herzl, the Jewish state idea sounded very far-fetched. Nobody even listened to him. Everyone was against it – the socialists, the Bundists, the haredim, the reform movement," he notes.

"It was the same at the start of the battle to free of the prisoners of Zion in the Soviet Union. Nobody would have believed that Anatoly Sharansky would become Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky! When I grew up we all thought Natan Sharansky would never see sunlight again.

"And it was the same with Martin Luther King… he was very provocative – and he made a change!

"Changes like this have been made in the past – all of them have been the result of a process. You need patience, but you also need faith that things can change.

"I am sure things will change, because that's what right to happen. It must happen. We can't give up."

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/191888

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