UNESCO’s history-defying vote asserting that the Temple Mount is sacred only to Muslims, echoes anti-Israel propaganda across the Middle East and ignores that the ancient Greeks, Romans, Christians, and even the ancient Muslims, considered Jerusalem and the Temple Mount the property of the Jewish people.
For the ancient Muslim, Greek and Roman authors, Jerusalem was a Jewish city. Their texts indicate a unanimous agreement that Jerusalem was Jewish by virtue of the fact that its inhabitants were Jews, it was founded by Jews, and the Temple in Jerusalem was the center of the Jewish religion.
A 2008 report by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs explained: Greek historian Hecataeus of Abdera (c. 300 BCE) wrote that the Jews were thrown out of Egypt. “Therefore, the aliens were driven from the country.” While some went to Greece, most “were driven into what is now called Judaea … at that time utterly uninhabited. … On taking possession of the land, he [Moses] founded, besides other cities, one that is the most renowned of all, called Jerusalem. In addition, he established the temple that they hold in chief veneration, instituted their forms of worship and ritual, drew up their laws and ordered their political institutions.” (Hecataeus “On the Jews,” in Against Apion I, 198-199; Stern, I, V, No.12, 36-37)
The Palestinians allege that there is little archeological evidence that either Temple existed, ignoring the fact that no digging is allowed on the Temple Mount in respect of its holiness to the Muslims. But when the Muslims themselves dug up part of the Temple Mount to add to their mosque, they dumped tons of dirt with artifacts outside the holy city. Before UNESCO’s vote, Israel prepared a brochure about some of the Temple Mount archaeological finds and provided it to every member of the committee, to no avail.
The Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, the institution overseeing the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, carried out excavations on the Temple Mount between 1996 and 1999 as part of the construction of a subterranean mosque in an area known as Solomon’s Stables. Tens of thousands of tons of dirt — roughly 400 truckloads — were excavated by heavy machinery, without the supervision of archaeologists, and were dumped outside the Old City.
Archeologists have been sifting through the dirt for years (the Temple Mount Sifting Project), and have found artifacts from the holy Temples. For example, in 2005 an archaeologist found what is now known as the Gaalyahu Seal, which in Hebrew says belonging to Gaalyahu son of Imer. The house of Imer was a well-known priestly family at the end of the First Temple period, roughly from around the 7th to 6th centuries BCE.
The UNESCO vote also ignores references to the Jewish Temple in texts the Muslims consider sacred.
he Qur’an refers to the existence of both temples in verse 17:7. In this passage, the Qur’an deals with G-d’s punishment of the Children of Israel for their transgressions:
“[And said], ‘If you do good, you do good for yourselves; and if you do evil, [you do it] to yourselves.’ Then when the final promise came, [We sent your enemies] to sadden your faces and to enter the temple in Jerusalem, as they entered it the first time, and to destroy what they had taken over with [total] destruction.”
The word translated as “temple” by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, the British born Muslim scholar who translated the Quran into English (and by the influential translator Marmaduke Pickthall before him) is masjid. This word, which is usually translated as mosque, has the meaning of a sanctuary wherever it appears in a pre-Islamic context. The usual Muslim interpretations of this verse (including that of Abdullah Yusuf Ali) holds that it refers to the destruction of the First and Second Temples.
Muslim tradition is especially adamant about the existence of the First Temple, built by Solomon, who appears in the Qur’an as a prophet and a perfect example of wisdom. Verse 34:13 is an account of how Solomon summoned jinn (spirits) to build the Temple:
“They made for him what he willed of elevated chambers, statues, bowls like reservoirs, and stationary kettles. [We said], ‘Work, O family of David, in gratitude.’ And few of My servants are grateful.”
The very verse in the Quran that makes the Temple Mount holy to Muslims also proves that the spot was occupied by the Jewish Temple: The Islamic sanctity of the Haram al-Sharif [what the Muslims call the Temple Mount] is based upon verse 17:1: “Glory to (Allah) Who did take His servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless, in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things).”
This is the textual proof of the isra’, the earthly segment of the Night Journey of Muhammad: overnight, Muhammad was miraculously transported, round-trip, from “the Sacred Mosque” (al-Masjid al-Haram) — that is, the Ka’ba (or its vicinity) in Mecca — to “the Farthest Mosque” (al-Masjid al-Aqsa). Later Muslim tradition came to identify “the Farthest Mosque” with Jerusalem. But during Muhammad’s lifetime, no mosque stood in Jerusalem; the Muslims conquered the city only several years after his death. Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s commentary on this verse summarizes the traditional explanation: “The Farthest Mosque,” he writes, “must refer to the site of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem on the hill of Moriah.”
When Muslims did build a mosque on this hill, Muslim tradition holds that it was built deliberately on the verified site of earlier sanctuaries. According to Muslim tradition, when the Caliph Umar visited Jerusalem after its conquest, he searched for David’s sanctuary or prayer niche (mihrab Dawud), which is mentioned in the Qur’an (38:21). (David was believed to have chosen the site on which Solomon built.) When Umar was satisfied he had located it, he ordered a place of prayer (musalla) to be established there. This evolved into a mosque that was a precursor of the Aksa Mosque. Thus began the Islamization of the complex that later came to be known as the Haram al-Sharif. It became the tradition of Islam that Muslims restored the site to its earlier function as a place of supplication venerated by all the prophets, including Abraham, David and Solomon.
The official 1925 Supreme Moslem Council (Waqf) guidebook to Al-aram Al-Sharif recognized the presence of the Jewish Temples atop the Mount. Paragraph on two on page four reads: “It’s [the Temple Mount] identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute.”
The Jewish Temple is also mentioned in the Christian Gospels which pre-date Islam.
Merchants were selling doves that were sacrificed by the poor who could not afford grander sacrifices. According to Mark 11:16, the founder of Christianity then put an embargo on people carrying any merchandise through the Temple — a sanction that would have disrupted all commerce. In the Gospel of John 2:15-16, the founder refers to the Jerusalem Temple as “my Father’s house,” He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves, he said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.”
What does this all mean? Ancient text — including Muslim and Christian texts —agree that there were two Jewish Temples to G-d on top Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. So it’s well past time for the American and other world Governments to stop denying history, press the BS button on UNESCO and point out the truth.
What makes the vote even more incredible is that Christian majority countries such as Mexico and Brazil denied their Christian heritage by voting for the resolution, as did Christian majority countries such as Italy and France by abstaining.
UNESCO can pass one million resolutions and it won’t matter. Israel is the heart of the Jewish people, Jerusalem is the heart of Israel, and the Temple Mount is the heart of Jerusalem. No amount of lies, not from UNESCO, not from the Palestinians, not from any other country of organization in the world … no one except G-d himself can take the Temple Mount away from the Jewish people. And it is up to us living in the galut to make that clear to the politicians running (or attempting to run) our countries.
Contact Jeff Dunetz: Columnist@TheJewishStar.com