Denying the Centrality of Jerusalem to the Jewish People
Attempts to deny the Jewish connection to Jerusalem is part of this unrelenting war against Israel. The Palestinian Authority (PA) accuses the Jewish state of fashioning a false Jewish history, while appropriating Palestinian history, culture and heritage. The Palestinians Arabs refer to these actions as “Judaization.” As Palestinian Media Watch founder Itamar Marcus explains, the main target is supposedly the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which Israel allegedly schemes to demolish to build the Jewish Temple. PA political and religious leaders, officials and academics refer to the Temple as Al-Haikal Al-Maz’oom, the “alleged Temple.”
A Palestinian Arab “specialist” on Jerusalem declared that the well-known verse from the Book of Psalms 137, “If I forget thee, Oh Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill,” is not of Jewish origin, but was originally spoken by a Christian Crusader and “borrowed” by Jews and “falsified in the name of Zionism.”
The question of the centrality of Jerusalem to the Jewish people is irrefutable from many sources. Historian Rivkah Duker Fishman examined the works of Greek and Roman authors of classical antiquity from nearly 20 diverse sources dating from the third century BCE to the third century CE, roughly six centuries. Fishman found that the authors of these historic works unanimously agreed that Jerusalem was Jewish since it was “founded by Jews, its inhabitants were Jews and that the Temple, located in Jerusalem, was the center of the Jewish religion.” Even though some of these authors like Manetho, Apion, Tacitus and Juvenal held clearly negative views about Jews and Judaism, they were completely in accord about the Jewish identity of Jerusalem.
Descriptions of the Temple are a part of the reports on Jerusalem and on Judaism, ranging from fact “to the libelous and bizarre. For the Greeks and Romans, Jerusalem was famous for its Temple, which served as the focal point of the xenophobic, strange, and possibly menacing rites of the Jews whose contributions brought much gold into the city…. After its destruction in 70 CE, the memory of the Temple persisted in the retrospective histories by Tacitus and by Cassius Dio.” These ancient texts, therefore, refute current efforts by Muslims and others to deny the historic connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem and the site of the Temple.
Fishman referred to the Camp David Summit of July 2000, where several Palestinian Arab negotiators rejected the existence of King Solomon’s Temple. Arafat told President Clinton that the biblical temples were never located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem: “Solomon’s Temple was not in Jerusalem, but Nablus,” he declared. Dennis Ross, Middle East envoy and the chief peace negotiator, realized that Arafat was “challenging the core of Jewish faith and seeking to deny Israel any claim in the Old City.”
Marcus asserts that this “denial that the Temple never existed, and that Jews have no history in the Land of Israel not only contradict Jewish sources, Christian sources and the archeological record, but contradict the Quran as well.” The Quran in Sura 17:2-7 mentions the “Children of Israel’s” two periods of independence in the land and the destruction of both the First and the Second Temple: “… to enter the Temple even as they entered it for the first time, and to lay waste…”
Relentless Stream of Lies
The problem with these incessant barrage of falsehoods, declares Elliot A. Green, is that they are recurrently repeated not just in the Palestinian Arab media, but in communications of human rights organizations, academic books and journals and at the U.N.
Marcus points out even when the Palestinian Arabs inadvertently acknowledge the Jewish connection to the Holy Land, this inconsistency is rarely, if ever, exposed in the media. When a Judean Shekel coin from the year 66 CE, the first year of the Jewish rebellion against Rome, for example, was sold in auction in March 2012, the PA daily claimed the Hebrew coin to be an “ancient Palestinian coin” and part of the “Palestinian cultural tradition.” In doing so, the PA implicitly conceded the Jewish nation’s historical presence in the land of Israel by citing the Jewish revolt against the Romans.
Erasing Any Vestige of Archeological Evidence of Jewish and Christian History
According to political analyst David M. Weinberg, erasing any vestige of archeological evidence of Jewish and Christian history is a key part of this campaign. Synagogues and Jewish holy sites in Jericho, Nablus and Gush Katif were burned down. Palestinian Arab mobs in 1996 attacked Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem. A Palestinian horde raided Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus and torched the inside of the synagogue.
Archeologist Mark Ami-El said that to justify their claim that the Temple Mount is really the site of a mosque dating back to the time of Adam and Eve, they are transforming the area into holy places, mosques and Muslim holy sites, leaving nothing to justify Israeli claims to the area. They have removed thousands of tons of material and dumped them in the Kidron Valley and the city garbage dump at Eizariya, while they build underground mosques at the site. Included in these ruins were the archeological remains—masonry stones, blocks, floor tiles and pottery—from the period of the First and Second Temples. Decorations and inscriptions on stones were removed, as were Hebrew lettering and five-pointed stars, a Hasmonean symbol found on handle seals from the second century BCE. The Waqf also destroyed stonework produced by Jewish artisans 2,000 years ago in the underground “double passageway.”
Christian relics on the Temple Mount were also demolished, including the Crusader pillars of the 13th-century Grammar Dome in the southwestern corner of the Mount, and the Crusader-era Chain Gate. Without any concern for the integrity of these historic objects, the Waqf has permitted drilling holes in them, spray-painting them, chopping through them for electricity cables, and allowed concrete and stone to be added to them.
Mount of Olives
Journalist Nadav Shragai reported that during the Jordanian’s 19-year rule of eastern Jerusalem, Mount of Olives—the largest and most significant Jewish cemetery in the world, extending more than 250 dunams east of the Temple Mount and representing “in effect a national and religious pantheon”—was callously desecrated. Four roads were built through the cemetery, uprooting skeletons and bones that were scattered about like trash. Tombstones were used in constructing roads in a Jordanian army camp. The cemetery contains the graves of some of the most renowned Jews over the period of 3,000 years.
Before Israel’s War of Independence in May 1948, there were approximately 60,000 graves on the Mount of Olives. Thirty-eight thousand tombstones and graves were shattered to pieces by the Jordanians. Jews were forbidden to visit the graves or bury their dead, despite Jordan’s explicit guarantee of “free access to the holy sites and cultural institutions and use of the cemeteries on the Mount of Olives” in the Israeli Jordanian Armistice Agreement of 1949. (Ibid.) Ancient synagogues in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City were also practically destroyed, and Jews were not allowed to go to the Western Wall. (Ben-Gurion, My Talk With Arab Leaders, op. cit. 268.)
According to Jewish tradition, the resurrection of the dead will begin on the Mount at the end of days.
In Arabic, this practice of obliterating any trace of archeological evidence of Jewish and Christian history in the land of Israel “is known as Tams al-ma’alem, which means ‘erasing the signs,’ in the sense of destroying the relics of all cultures that preceded Islam,” asserts historian Mordechai Kedar.
Dr. Grobman is the senior resident scholar at the John C. Danforth Society, and a member of the Council of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.