TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: The current conflicts at
the Temple Mount have led to some predictable, but still disappointing, rhetoric. First, from the Egypt Independent
/Anadolu Agency: Palestinians warn of extremist plan to demolish Al-Aqsa
Palestinian activists warn that extremist Jewish groups in Israel — which they say enjoy the tacit support of Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing government — are now openly calling for the destruction of occupied East Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque to make way for a "third Jewish temple".
Recent weeks have seen large groups of Jewish settlers, usually accompanied by Israeli army troops and police, forcing their way into the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex — which Jews already refer to as the “Temple Mount” — with increasing frequency.
I have commented with some concern
about some of the rhetoric coming out of groups that advocate the rebuilding of the Temple on the Temple Mount, so I don't blame Palestinian groups for being concerned as well. But Jews already refer to the site as the "Temple Mount" because there were Jewish temples there in the past, not because some groups want to (re)build a temple there.
I'm not going to comment on the various claims and counterclaims about what has recently been happening on the Temple Mount. I wasn't there and I can't judge. But I do note that this article cites and approves of some unhistorical denial that there ever were Jewish temples on the site. The bold emphasis is mine.
According to Ziad Hammouri, a Palestinian expert on these extremist Jewish groups, the current Israeli government uses these right-wing organizations “to stage incursions by settlers into the Al-Aqsa compound”.
He went on to cite groups such as Rabbis of the Temple Mount, Women of the Temple Mount, the Temple Mount Faithful, Kahana Chai, Kach and Lahiva.
“These organizations openly call for the destruction of the Al-Aqsa Mosque to make way for what they call the ‘Temple of Solomon’, which they claim was destroyed in 586 BC during the Babylonian Captivity,” Hammouri told Anadolu Agency.
Hammouri went on to explain that these groups adhere to an ideology laid out in the Talmud, which – as opposed to the Torah, the Jews’ traditional holy book – was compiled over the centuries by extremist Jewish rabbis.
Extremist Jewish rabbis? Who compiled the Talmud? What does that even mean?
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site after Makkah and Medina. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of both Solomon’s Temple and a second temple built during the reign of King Herod (destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD).
Mr. Hammouri seems to want to cast doubt even on the existence of the Herodian Temple, which goes farther than even Yasser Arafat and, more recently, one Dr. Jamal Amer have been willing to go
. Evidence for the existence of the First Temple
and the Second and Herodian Temples
on the the Temple Mount is collected at the links.
The United Nations, for its part, seems not to be helping matters with its own rhetoric: U.N. Can’t Even Say ‘Temple Mount’
(Stewart Ain, The Jewish Week
Now, on the eve of the annual gathering of world leaders for the U.N. General Assembly and smack in the middle of the High Holy Days, Jewish leaders are saying the world body came up with another doozy. This time, it couldn’t even bring itself to use the term favored by Jews to refer to the area housing the Western Wall and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The U.N. Security Council issued a statement last Thursday expressing “grave concern regarding escalating tensions in Jerusalem, especially surrounding the Haram al-Sharif compound, including recent clashes in and around the site.” It went on to call for “restraint, refraining from provocative actions and rhetoric and upholding unchanged the historic status quo at the Haram al-Sharif — in word and in practice.” It added that Muslims “must be allowed to worship in peace, free from violence, threats and provocations.”
If the U.N wants to be taken seriously as an honest broker, it would do well to use terminology that reflects the positions of both sides. No one disputes the title "Haram al-Sharif," the Noble Sanctuary, which refers to the Islamic shrines on the site. But "Temple Mount" refers to the past presence of Jewish temples on the site, which is a matter of historical record and is important to Jews (and Christians).
Likewise, if the Palestinians want their concerns to be taken seriously, they should stop denying that Jewish temples once stood on the site and, indeed, that they were the original reason the site was regarded to be holy.