Friday, May 30, 2003


(bold font is my emphasis)

Qabbani says Jews praying at Al-Aqsa could start jihad (Daily Star, Lebanon)

Plans by Israel�s government to allow Jews to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem �will, if put into effect, practically trigger a holy Islamic war jihad itself until the mosque and the city are liberated from Jewish occupation,� Grand Mufti Mohammed Rashid Qabbani said Thursday. He added in a statement that claims by Jews that their ancient temple existed where the mosque is �are unfounded.�

For the record, Solomon's Temple was built in the 10th century BCE, destroyed during the Babylonian invasion in 586/7 BCE, rebuilt around 520, then destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. These are basic historical facts, supported by a vast amount of evidence, the contesting of which is on the level of Creationism or the Flat Earth Society.

The new Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority appears to have gone on record as doubting that there was a Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount, which is not a good sign.

MEMRI Special Report - No. 15
Abu Mazen: A Political Profile


Abu Mazen also rejected the Israeli claim that there had been a Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount, telling the Israeli-Arab weekly Kul Al-Arab:[51] "Anyone who wants to forget the past cannot come and claim that the [Jewish] temple is situated beneath the Haram. They demand that we forget what happened 50 years ago to the refugees � and I speak as a living, breathing refugee � while at the same time they claim that 2000 years ago they had a temple. I challenge the claim that this is so. But even if it is so, we do not accept it, because it is not logical for someone who wants peace in practice."


And related to this is a story I haven't heard much of in the last year or two, but here's a piece on it from the Bible and Interpretation website:

The Modern Destruction of the Temple Mount

There is no evidence of any kind to suggest that Moslems of Mohammed�s day recognized the Mount as anything other than a Jewish holy site.

By Richard Benkin, Ph.D.
May 2003

How are we, as concerned laypersons and scholars, to regard the current Moslem actions at Jerusalem's Temple Mount? Although a mount of evidence provides strong bases for a Jewish connection to that holy site - in fact the oldest and most storied connection, official Arab Moslem policy contends that no such connection exists. While there is nothing new or noteworthy about hyperbole coming from the Arab world, what makes this different is that Moslem leaders have been engaged in ongoing efforts to change the situation "on the ground." Ominously for our civilization, the Mount's Moslem officials (Waqf), with backing from Mecca and elsewhere in the Moslem world, are attempting to destroy an archeological and biblical heritage and subvert the historical record in the service of transitory political goals.


��� The Waqf has proceeded on two fronts: one to de-Judaize the Mount and another to Islamicize it, although their actions often aim toward both at once. In a conscious attempt to make the Mount more hospitable to greater numbers of Moslem worshippers, the Waqf, in 1996, converted two Second Temple era structures into a new 1.5-acre mosque. The first was the Eastern Hulda Gate. This was one of the passageways used by ancient worshippers to access the Temple. The other structure is known as Solomon�s Stables. Located under the Mount�s current surface, it was used by ancient Temple priests to store vestments and other items. It also encompasses the area known as Jesus� Cradle, the site where the 40-day-old Jesus was presented in the Temple. This small room, only 32.5 square feet in area, is now used for Moslem prayer. In 1997, the Waqf built a second new mosque, destroying another ancient passageway, the Western Hulda, to do so. There is no accurate record of all the artifacts lost during the conversions, but we do know that the material removed for them dated back as far as the First Temple Period (1006-586 BCE).6 By the autumn of 1999, however, Waqf actions finally caused extensive concern and then protest action by many prominent Israeli archeologists and others. Over three days and nights in November, using heavy machinery to cut through the ancient Temple Mount wall, the Waqf opened a gaping hole, 18,000 square feet in area and 36 feet deep, for an �emergency exit� from the new mosques. In January, another hole, 1250 square meters in area and twelve meters deep, appeared north of Solomon�s Stables. And the destructive construction continued.

��� Without any archeological supervision, the Waqf used bulldozers and tractors on an ancient site never built to accommodate anything more than foot traffic. It removed and then paved over approximately 6,000 square meters of the ancient Temple Mount surface. Mount police also reported observing a Second Temple (516 BCE to 70 CE) era arched water channel being dismantled during this period. Temple artifacts were ripped from the Mount and, at first secretly, dumped in several places throughout Jerusalem, most prominently in the Kidron Valley just east of the city walls but also in El Azaria and the municipal city dump.

��� The material often was mixed intentionally with modern-day garbage in an attempt to cover up these actions. It sometimes made archeological examination difficult, if not impossible. Volunteers, however, from students to some of Israel�s most renowned archeologists, were able to recover many ancient artifacts that the Waqf sought to destroy. Moreover, they were able to identify the Mount�s distinguishable dusty gray soil, containing a variety of stones, from different ancient periods mixed with contemporary material.


Obviously, all these stories as well as the ones I cited a while ago under the rubric "junk archaeology" have a common basis in the current political debate about whether Jews (and others) should be allowed on the Temple Mount again. I'm not going to get into the political issues here; my interest is in the archaeology. (Today Ha'aretz has an article on the politics of the Temple Mount - again, via the Bible and Interpretation website.) As for Waqf's actions on the Temple Mount, I have had no involvement in this situation, don't know any of the principals, and can't vouch for the accuracy of any stories on it. But the basic facts do not seem to be contested. This website on The Temple Mount Archaeological Destruction collects some information on the Committee for the Prevention of Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount. If anyone can point me to more documentation or more recent treatments, I'd be grateful.

Also, it doesn't seem out of place to point out that, given the � fully justified! � concern with the looting of antiquities in Iraq, this situation also merits some attention from the larger community of archaeologists and ancient historians.

UPDATE: The 16 May article from the Lebanon Daily Star (which I quoted in full) appears not to have been archived. But you can find the same quote from Grand Mufti Mohammed Rashid Qabbani here on the website of the Islamic Resistance Support Association.

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