Abbas’ Temple Denial

March 2, 2012 10:40 am 0 comments

PA President Mahmoud Abbas at the conference on Jerusalem. Photo: qatarconferences.org.

Speaking in Qatar on Feb. 26, at an Arab League conference, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas resumed the Palestinian attack on the historical Jewish connection to Jerusalem. This diplomatic strategy began with his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, who questioned whether the Temple ever existed at the end of the July 2000 Camp David summit: “There is nothing there.” Then U.S. President Bill Clinton was stunned. Arafat then asserted that Solomon’s Temple was in Nablus, not in Jerusalem. Two years later in leading pan-Arab newspaper al-Hayat, Arafat continued: “They found not a single stone proving the Temple was there …”

A month after Camp David, Abbas himself continued with Arafat’s ideological position on the Temple in an Israeli-Arab weekly, adding: “… they claim that 2,000 years ago they had a temple. I challenge the claim that this is so.” In fact, many of the leaders of the Palestinian Authority, who are perceived as moderate in the West, also began repeating this same theme. Nabil Shaath spoke to al-Ayyam and spoke about the Israeli claim that “its fictitious temple” once stood in Jerusalem.

Chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, also declared: “For Islam, there never was a Temple at al-Quds, but a ‘distant mosque.’” Yasser Abd Rabbo told Le Monde, in September 2000, “There was no archaeological evidence that the Temple ever existed on the Temple Mount.” He added during an appearance on Palestinian television, broadcast on March 16, 2010, that Israel was planning to build “the false Temple” in order “to fulfill a legend.”

Now, Abbas is once again renewing this line of attack in Qatar, challenging whether there was any proof of Jewish historical claims. “Despite all the enormous capabilities that the occupation authorities made available to the extremists who engage in never-ending digging [and] threaten to make al-Aqsa look less significant and vindicate the Israeli narrative, they have failed miserably.” After making this point, he added that the Israeli authorities “were preparing models of what they call the Temple, in order to build it on the ruins of al-Aqsa.”

It was noticeable that Abbas could not bring himself to make reference to the Temple as a historical fact, but had to say “what they call the Temple,” which indicated he was not prepared to say it had ever existed. He also adopted the decades-old lie that Israel had a plan to endanger the al-Aqsa mosque.

Since Arafat first told Clinton that there never was a Temple, there has been a full-scale effort over the last decade, on the part of the Palestinian leadership, to make this idea of Temple denial take root through programs on Palestinian television, articles in the official Palestinian Authority newspapers, and mosque sermons that aim to deny the historical Jewish connection to Jerusalem. In 2009, Palestinian religious leaders repeatedly declared that no evidence had been found that could prove a historical Jewish connection to Jerusalem or that the Temple had ever existed.

The great irony of this new Palestinian version of Jerusalem’s history is that it contradicts the original Islamic tradition. Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Jarir al-Tabari (839-923 CE) was a leading commentator on the Quran and is known as one of Islam’s greatest historians. In his account of the conquest of Jerusalem by the second caliph, Umar bin al-Khattab, al-Tabari describes him heading toward “the area where the Romans buried the Temple [bayt al-maqdis] at the time of the sons of Israel.”

What is also striking about the current Palestinian campaign to deny the Jewish connection to Jerusalem is the fact that Umar himself allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem, after the Romans and Byzantines kept them away for 500 years. As late as 1935, the Supreme Muslim Council in Jerusalem, under the notorious mufti, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, actually published a guidebook that gave the history of the Temple Mount, establishing that “its identification with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute.”

So what is going on here? This is not just a question of education. If during one of his many trips to Rome, Abbas actually went to the Arch of Titus and viewed the engravings of the looted vessels from the Temple, including the Menorah, being carried in a Roman victory parade, it would not change his mind. Nor would it help if Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan guided Abbas to a museum in Istanbul to see a 2,000-year-old plaque from the Temple Mount warning foreigners not to enter the Temple area (Erdogan may not even be aware of what is in this Turkish museum). Ultimately, this is not a matter of establishing what is historical truth. Instead, the almost obsessive Palestinian preoccupation with denying Israel’s ties to Jerusalem is actually a new kind of political warfare they have decided to wage.

The Palestinians keenly understand the importance of Jerusalem to Israel – perhaps better than some on the Israeli side. They know that, historically, Jerusalem has had an essential role to play in the formation of Israeli identity. In any military struggle, a clear strategic objective is to strike at an adversary’s “center of gravity,” after which its collapse would be almost inevitable. Abbas’ envoy to Lebanon, Abbas Zaki, said on May 7, 2009, that if Israel were to withdraw from Jerusalem, the Zionist idea would begin to collapse. Thus, the purpose of their present assault on Jerusalem’s history is to strike at Israel’s “center of gravity” and weaken the foundations of the Jewish state.

The Palestinian Authority leaders have observed that most of the assertions they have made about Israel in recent years – like comparing it to apartheid South Africa – eventually get accepted without question or criticism. They have every reason to hope that the denial of the historical Jewish connection to Jerusalem will gain supporters worldwide.

Israel needs to understand the contours of the new battle that has been imposed on it. It needs to insist that its representatives understand and learn for themselves Israel’s historical rights. These rights were well known to the generation of Abba Eban and Chaim Herzog, but unfortunately they have been forgotten in the recent past – at a time when they have become more relevant for the defense of Israel than ever.

This article originally appeared in Israel Hayom.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Theater US & Canada New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    In his new play Mr. Goldberg Goes to Tel Aviv, playwright Oren Safdie tackles an issue that he has a major concern with: the relationship between Israelis and left-leaning Diaspora Jews with their “I know better” critical views. At the heart of the one-act play is Tony, a Jewish and gay Palestinian sympathizer who expresses strong anti-Israel sentiments when the play begins and at one point even sides with a Palestinian terrorist who holds his captive. Tony, who is also an [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    A Jewish comedy troupe released a parody video on Wednesday of Taylor Swift’s hit song Shake It Off in which they joke about taking extensive time off from work for Jewish holidays. “And the goyim gonna stay, stay, stay, stay, stay. And the Jews are gonna pray, pray pray, pray, pray. I’m just gonna take, take, take, take, take. I’m taking off,” goes the chorus for I’m Taking Off. Menachem Weinstein, the video’s lead singer, is the creative director at [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Literature On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    JNS.org – The 75th anniversary of the premiere of “Gone with the Wind” on Dec. 15 presents an opportunity to examine the Jewish influence on one of the most popular films of all time. That influence starts with the American Civil War epic’s famed producer, David O. Selznick. Adjusted for inflation, “Gone with the Wind” remains the highest-grossing movie ever made. It earned the 1939 Academy Award for Best Picture, the same honor another Selznick film, “Rebecca,” garnered in 1940. Selznick [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Music US & Canada EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    Matisyahu got candid in an exclusive interview with The Algemeiner on Monday about his religious and musical journey – after shedding his Chassidic skin, yarmulke, long beard and all – from the start of his career in 2005 when he became a reggae superstar with hits King Without a Crown and Jerusalem. The singer-songwriter embarks on his Festival of Light tour this month, an annual Hanukkah event that stops in Montreal, New York, and other cities before ending in San Juan, [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Personalities ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    JNS.org – It was an era of steel strings, guitar heroes, and storytellers—high on heroin, rebellious. Outlaw country music, the hallmark of Nashville’s powerful and angry music scene of the 1970s, was the brew of greats such as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Townes Van Zandt. But there is another, little-known music hero of that era: Daniel Antopolsky. A Jewish lad from Augusta, Ga.—the son of immigrants who settled in the south and ran a hardware store on Main Street—the [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi replaced Israeli star Gal Gadot as the female lead in the new Ben-Hur remake, Hollywood.com reported on Tuesday. The Homeland actress will play Esther, a slave that Ben-Hur sets free and falls in love with. Gadot quit the movie when it became clear that filming conflicted with her schedule for the Man of Steel sequel. The Israeli actress plays Wonder Woman in the superhero film Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Actor Jack Huston takes on the [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    JNS.org – There is one sentence in “Ben-Gurion: Father of Modern Israel” that made me sit up in surprise. I thought that I knew the basic facts about how Israel came into being, but while describing what it was like in the days and hours before the state was declared, author Anita Shapira provides one important anecdote I was not aware of. On the 12th of May, the Zionist Executive met to decide what to do. Moshe Sharrett had just returned [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    An actress starring in the controversial Met Opera The Death of Klinghoffer defended the show on Tuesday by comparing it to the 1993 Holocaust film Schindler’s List, New York Post reported. “To me, this was like [the movie] Schindler’s List. We make art so people won’t forget,’’ said the actress, who plays a captured passenger in the show and asked not to be identified. The Met Opera focuses on the infamous murder of Lower East Side Jewish resident Leon Klinghoffer, 69. The wheelchair-bound father of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.