Tattoos have become a common sight in 2023 and can be seen almost everywhere, particularly among tourists from Western countries. However, during a recent tour of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem organized by Rebel News, I encountered an unexpected request from the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf – to cover up my tattoos.
At first, it seemed like a reasonable request, possibly a policy applied to all visitors. But my boss, Ezra Levant, quickly pointed out that we were surrounded by tourists with tattoos who were not asked to hide their ink. This raised suspicions of political censorship, as I proudly display my Jewish heritage and an Israeli flag tattooed on my arm.
Motivated by a desire to practice impromptu journalism, I conducted interviews with other visitors to determine if they had received the same instruction. I came across another tourist from Melbourne, Australia, who had multiple tattoos but had not been asked to cover them up. To make matters even more intriguing, this individual happened to be a fan of Rebel News. The blatant double standard between the treatment of my tattoos and those of others made it clear that it wasn’t simply about tattoos – it had to do with the Israeli flag inked on my arm.
In an act of defiance, I decided to remove the jumper they had given me to cover my tattoo. I expressed my sentiment, stating, “If there’s a rule about tattoos, let that rule apply to all.” The Temple Mount holds immense religious significance as the holiest site for Jews and the third holiest for Muslims. While Islamic symbols are openly displayed, I questioned why I should not be allowed to proudly represent my Jewish heritage.
Ezra was quick to provide context, highlighting the importance of freedom of religion, expression, and the press in Israel compared to other countries in the region. He acknowledged me as not just a journalist but a free man. As a free man, I refused to have my self-expression curtailed, especially when it appeared that the same rules did not apply to everyone else.
With this conviction, I chose to walk freely on the Temple Mount, Israeli flag tattoo on full display. Despite the incident, I firmly believe that this holy place should stand for religious unity and freedom. As tattoos continue to gain acceptance worldwide, it is essential that such holy sites embrace diversity and respect the right to individual expression.
It is a testament to Israel’s support for freedom of religion, expression, and the press that Rebel News exists. Reporting on incidents like these sheds light on the importance of upholding these fundamental values and encourages open dialogue about ensuring equal treatment for all individuals, regardless of their religious or cultural background.