WATCH: Israeli Reporter Sneaks Into Mecca, Sparking Outrage In Saudi Arabia

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Channel 13 News journalist Gil Tamari in Mecca. (Screenshot)

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A storm of outrage arose over a Channel 13 News report published on Monday featuring an unprecedented visit to Mecca by an Israeli reporter, a violation of the strict ban on the entry of non-Muslims to Islam’s holiest city.

Gil Tamari was one of the three Israeli reporters who gained entry to the kingdom to cover the GCC+3 summit, attended by US President Joe Biden over the weekend. While there, he decided to take advantage of his visit to venture into Mecca and document the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

Tamari said on the video that he knew the chances of him entering Mecca were zero but he managed to find the right person who agreed to take the risk to sneak him in. [The identity of that man, who was unaware that Tamari was Israeli since they spoke only in English, was obscured on the video to ensure his safety.]

The report was slammed by both Muslims and Jews, the former for the reporter’s violation of Islamic law and the latter for disrespecting the Islamic religion.

Famed pro-Israel Saudi blogger Mohammed Saud posted a video excoriating the report, saying: “My dear friends in Israel: your reporter entered the city of Mecca which is holy to Islam and shamelessly videoed himself. This is like me entering a shul and reading in the Torah. Shame on you, Channel 13. You should be ashamed of your offense to the Islamic religion.”

Many other Muslims have also been expressing their ire on social media under the Arabic hashtag #Jew_in_the_Haram, a reference to Mecca’s Grand Mosque.

Many Israelis also slammed the report for its disrespect toward religion. Israeli-American conservative commentator Caroline Glick wrote: “In one unnecessary report, Gil Tamari inflicted unnecessary but tremendous damage on Israel’s relations with the Saudis.”

In the wake of the storm, both Tamari and Channel 13 News issued apologies. Tamari wrote: “I would like to emphasize that the visit to Mecca was not intended to offend Muslims or anyone else. If anyone was offended by the video, I deeply apologize. The purpose of this entire endeavor was to showcase the importance of Mecca and the beauty of the religion, and in doing so foster more religious tolerance and inclusion.”

“This founding principle also guided us in this journalistic endeavor and allowed many people to see, for the first time, a place that is so important to our Muslim brothers and sisters, and to human history. Once again, if anyone was hurt by or offended by this, I apologize wholeheartedly. We had no such intention.”

Channel 13 was less apologetic, stating: “Tamari’s visit to Mecca is an important journalistic achievement, not in any way intended to hurt Muslims’ feelings. Of course, if anyone was offended, we apologize for that. Curiosity is the essence of journalism, which is based on accessing every location and documenting things firsthand.”

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

14 COMMENTS

  1. Absolute chutzpah. It is assur to do unnecessary things that get the goyim angry at us. Curiosity/journalism is no excuse. And if this causes some hot headed Arab to hurt a Jew chalila, this guy is partially to blame

  2. This journalist did not see past his own two feet. His actions reflect upon the whole community, which does not share his belief that being disrespectful is ok in the name of journalism.
    Channel 13 needs to show greater remorse and should be heavily fined for this.

  3. Since going to Mecca part of the requirements Islam, he is also guilty of Avodah Zarah. The gemara discusses someone who engages in Avodah Zarah not really that his act is “avodah”.

    One might suspect that his actions were part of a conspiracy to undermine the negotiations of the current regime (and also Likud) to seek better relations with the Muslims, and in particular the Saudis (so an article should mention his own political affiliations).

  4. Shame on you Muslims, disgracing our holy of the holiest place of Beit Hamikdash. It hurts us too that you walk on it and play soccer. Come out from our place and apologize.

  5. The article implies that President Biden the the GCC+3 representatives were in Mecca for a conference. Biden is Catholic, and undoubtedly some of the GCC+3 representatives were not Muslims. Why can’t the exemption apparently given to Biden be extended to reporters.

  6. Israeli chuspah
    They think they can do whatever they want. Majnoon.
    It’s like going to Shul on Shabbos and taking videos. The fact that the Macca is large given no importance to secular idiot’s having his “dream come true”.
    Why don’t you take a idol and bow to it just to see the how it feels. Bunch of European idiots with their European mentality who don’t understand Islam and religion.

    I am sure there are many non Muslims who visit the site but to advertise? Disrespectful.

  7. @akuperma, you are so wrong:

    1) ALL poskim agree that Islam is not considered Avoda Zarah (and not שיתוף either).

    2) Going to a city is never considered Avoda Zarah. If Hindus were required to visit New York, would visiting New York be considered Avoda Zarah? (see רמב”ם הלכות עבודת כוכבים פ”ח ה”א)

    Please, stop spewing hate and ignorance, and stop searching for ways to find Jews guilty.

    @Your friend, you are right, it is wrong to needlessly provoke the Arabs.

    At the same time, the Arabs have tremendous chutzpa, which we should have been met with Jewish outcry:

    On har habayis, there are sections where a non-Jew is not permitted to enter. Archeological finds show stone tablets from the second Beis Hamikdash warning non-Jews not to pass a certain point. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_Warning_inscription

    Yet, every day, with the permission of Jews (!), the Arabs tread in this holy place and no one makes a peep. As soon as a Jew steps into the Arab holy site, the whole world goes crazy.
    This double standard is unacceptable, and we should not take it with our heads hung low.

  8. As the next step in Abrahamic accords, Jews will be Haram to visit Muslim holy cities and Muslims will be asur to visit Jewish holy cities. Good for the goose her, good for the gander him

  9. Just another stupid, brazen Israeli disregarding consequence, what’s new? Kinda like how thousands of Israelis flocked to Turkey just hours after an attempted kidnapping and murder.

    Why is going to Mecca his “dream come true?” It’s so cringeworthy and pathetic. The thought of being in a city with millions of Muslims is more of a nightmare than a dream.

  10. “My dear friends in Israel: your reporter entered the city of Mecca which is holy to Islam and shamelessly videoed himself. This is like me entering a shul and reading in the Torah.”

    Huh? You are welcome to come into any shul in the world, and read as much Torah as you like. Nobody will take offense, so long as you are respectful. This exclusionary attitude is bizarre.

  11. Tamari showed great disrespect to the culture, religion and yes LAW of a nation that is just gingerly opening up ties with Israel and the Jewish people. Maybe this is to be expected of a secular Israeli who fits the stereotype of secular Israelis “give them an inch and they’ll take a mile”. This secular Israeli clearly has ZERO respect for religion as he just flagrantly ignored the signs that ask non-Muslims to avoid entrance to Mecca. Any person with any religious/cultural sensitivity can understand that sometimes religious law mandates certain people cannot enter certain places – even Alexander the Great was respectful and did not enter the Kodesh HaKodashim. The Muslims apparently have to make many spiritual and physical “hachanos” before they enter Mecca- they don’t just barge in- any religious person can understand why this person’s brazen entry would be seen as a defilement. Also as indicated above this not just a matter of religion – this is clearly against the LAW of the state of Saudi Arabia- but this guy totally didn’t care about the law. I don’t think he should be termed “journalist” this buffoon with his silly hat and smirk has put LIVES AT RISK; for instance it is unclear what will happen to the arrested person who sneaked him in. Mohammed Saud who has been a friend to Jews and Israel enduring humiliation and scorn from other Arabs such as the Palestinians who threw chairs at him when he visited Israel is 100% correct that this was very shameful – perhaps this will put him at risk as well for befriending people who clearly lack respect for his religion. This may possibly cause the Saudis to second guess their warming relations with Israel; how can secular Israelis be trusted? Perhaps frum organizations should consider putting out statements distancing Torah Jews from this act; of course this idea would need to be completely vetted with Daas Torah.