The decision of the Israeli government to repair a bridge near the Temple Mount compound evoked a furious response from Arab governments and legislators. Arab world sources insisted that the Zionists are destroying the Al-Aqsa mosque. An Egyptian MP declared that "Nothing will work with Israel except for a nuclear bomb that wipes it out of existence." Jordanian MPs insisted that the dig violates the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty.
The latest developlment, and the most disturbing, came today, when Sheikh Raed Salah urged an Intifadah to save the al_Aqsa mosque.
The construction operations do not go anywhere near the mosques.
The campaign is in the venerable tradition of hysteria about control of the Temple Mount/Al Aqsa area, that was begun by the Nazi Grand Mufti, Hajj Amin Al Husseini
. Husseini first built up the neglected Mosques of Omar and Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem as Muslim holy places, getting funds for renovations from the Arab world. Previously, the mosque compound had been neglected for hundreds of years. Then he began the tradition of riots, based on the premise that the Jews were attempting to destroy the Muslim holy places. This was inaugurated by bloody Mufti-inspired riots in 1929.
. This tradition was continued in our own day.
The hysteria is aided by real mischief, caused by deranged persons. In 1969, a deranged Australian Christian named Michael Dennis Rohan attempted to set fire to the mosque. The blaze was quickly extinguished by the Israeli authorities and Rohan was taken for psychiatric observation. For several days, every radio and television station in the Arab Middle East repeated the words "Jihad" and "Al Aqsa" endlessly. Arab sources transmuted Rohan into a Jew named Cohen, or claimed that he was paid by "Zionists." On April 11, 1981, an American-born Israeli soldier, Alan Harry Goodman, a follower of Rabbi Kahaneh, entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque and started firing randomly, killing two Palestinians. Muslim consternation at these unfortunate events was understandable. It should be remembered however, that when a Jordanian soldier ran amok and killed Israeli children in a peace park, Israelis did not riot and call for holy war against Jordan.
In 1996, the Netanyahu government decided to open a small gate in tunnels that had been excavated beneath the Temple Mount. This inaugurated a period of bloody rioting as might have been predicted. Of course, the violence known as the Second Intifadeh was initiated following a visit by Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount in September of 2000.
In recent years, the Muslim waqf has been excavating beneath the Temple Mount. Israeli archeologists claim that Waqf excavations are undermining the foundations of the mosques, and are also intentionally destroying traces of Israeli presence and sovereignty in ancient Jerusalem
, including relics of the First Temple. They have been sifting through refuse dumped by the Waqf excavators and have published some of their finds.
Of course, this method ruins a great deal of the archeological value of the finds, which were not recovered in place and intact.
Though the Israeli public favors continuation of the Mughrabi gate bridge project
, Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski has ordered it suspended
. Only the salvage operations continue. Israel has installed Web cams that allow viewing of Mughrabi operations on the Web here
. The Chief Rabbi has called for halting the project
, and PM Ehud Olmert has also agreed to allow a Turkish team to inspect the dig site
Couldn't all this have been avoided? Given the sensitivity of the Al Aqsa issue, shouldn't the government, have known in advance that it was throwing a match into a barrel of kerosene? Was it necessary to hand this issue to Arab world extremists, at the very moment when Palestinian unity talks were taking place in Mecca? If the Turkish inspection team decides that the construction is hurting the mosque, what will Israeli do? Given the furor that has been caused by the work in the Muslim world, is it likely that the Turks will give it a clean bill of health? If the construction was intended to prove a point about Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount, then stopping the contruction will prove what? Ami Isseroff
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Replies: 1 Comment
All the furor over the work being done at the Western Wall has made me wonder: how long have various Arab and Islamic groups claimed there never was a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount, and how mainstream is this view in Arab society, especially among Palestinians?
The first time I ever heard this claim was during the fallout from the failed Camp David negotiation in 2000. And then reading the book "Prisoners," the author made it sound as if the belief has become much more mainstream among Palestinians in recent years. Obviously, I find this disturbing on many levels, and I wonder what it means for peace in the region.
It seems like denying the Jewish history of the Temple Mount is, in the long run, as dangerous as any rocket or suicide bomber, although in a different way. (I know thatís easy to say from the safety of the United States.) After all, if a people donít have a past, how can they have a future. The Arab claims about the Temple Mount seem to be part of an effort to erase the Jews from the past, and by doing so, erase Israel.
How do Israelis view this, and does this make them even more skeptical of the peace process. After all, the effort now is trying to convince the Palestinians accept that Israel has a right to exist, but apparently we donít even have a right to our past. This makes me think peace is a very long way off, but I hope Iím wrong.
Mike Barenti, Tuesday, February 20th
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