Lauren Isaacs from Toronto went up with her mom to the Temple Mount, where they took a picture of her holding her Herut Canada flag. Palestinian TV has expressed outrage.
By David Isaac, World Israel News
Lauren Isaacs, 23, a Toronto native, had no idea that during her vacation to Israel she would end up leaving “a mark of disgrace on the forehead of 1.6 billion Muslims,” to quote the Palestinian al-Quds channel, a pro-Hamas station.
Lauren, who works as the Toronto director of Herut Canada, a pro-Zionist organization, went up to the Temple Mount on June 11 with her mother. Excited to be at Judaism’s holiest site, she unfurled her Herut Canada flag, which resembles an Israeli flag, and her mom snapped a picture of her with the Dome of the Rock in the background.
“I wasn’t trying to provoke anyone. I don’t believe that flags incite anything. I think everyone should hold their flags proudly. It’s really a mark of pride,” Lauren told World Israel News.
“I’m a proud Jew, an unapologetic Zionist and I was standing on my holy ground. And when you’re standing on your holy ground I don’t think there’s anything wrong with holding your flag with pride,” she said.
She posted the picture to her Facebook page and that picture found its way into the hands of al-Quds TV, which expressed its fury at the perceived insult.
“Since yesterday I blocked 65 different people on Facebook who’ve been writing horrible things. But yeah, I posted it. I’m proud. I love the Temple Mount. It’s our home and I did it with pride and joy, not to upset anyone,” Lauren said.
“I stand behind what I did. Absolutely. I’m an unapologetic Zionist,” Lauren added.
Somewhat surprisingly, given the recent Arab riots on the Temple Mount, Lauren and her mom were allowed up to the site alone and unescorted.
“I felt emotional. I just did it. And then I felt ‘Whew! That was a little dangerous,’” she admitted.
The Temple Mount has been the source of friction between Jews and Muslims for decades. The Muslims consider it their third holiest site and often resort to violence to prevent changes viewed as favorable to Jews or to promote changes they wish to see at the site.
Most recently, Arabs rioted on the Temple Mount in reaction to permission being given for Jewish visitors to enter on Jerusalem Day, which happened to fall this year during the Muslim holiday of Ramadan.
Lauren came to Israel for a month to study and do some sight-seeing. A staunch Zionist, she says she was attracted to Herut because the organization combines education and activism.
“We do the in-class stuff, the workshops. We learn how to talk about Israel. How to teach about Israel,” Lauren said. “But we also are out there on the streets, doing grassroots activism. We’re at the protests, at the counter-protests, which is amazing. Because we’re combining all these elements of Zionism.”
World Herut emphasizes “the Jewish people’s right to live securely and freely in its ancient homeland.” It has a youth arm, World Magshimey Herut, which “educates young adults throughout the world towards Jewish pride, activist Zionism, and love for Israel.”