- - Sunday, November 30, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

“Palestinian claims that Israel wants to change the status quo” at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem are a sham (“Israeli forces disperse West Bank demonstration,” Web, Nov. 21). The Temple Mount has been the Jewish people’s most sacred religious, historical and archaeological site for three millennia — since the 10th century B.C.

The Jordanian Waqf (Islamic trust) that administers the site today, however, threatens violence against any Jew who prays there, even silently. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejects changing the status quo but “moderate” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas disingenuously claims Israel intends otherwise.

Palestinian leaders have been fabricating threats to the Temple Mount to provoke anti-Jewish violence since the days of Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini in the 1920s. Mr. Abbas, who also recently said he opposes Jews praying on the Temple Mount because “[w]e will not allow our holy places to be contaminated” and called for barring Jews from entering the site “by any means,” has maliciously incited yet another spate of terror. In one attack, a Palestinian driver killed a three-month-old Israeli-American baby girl; in another two armed Palestinians stormed a synagogue and murdered four praying Jews and an Israeli Druze policeman who tried to defend them.

Underscoring Mr. Abbas‘ hypocrisy is the fact that since the 1990s the Waqf has violated the Temple Mount’s status quo by using tractors and bulldozers to expand the Dome of the Rock platform above the ancient Jewish temples’ remains and construct a huge new underground mosque inside the Temple Mount itself. In the process the Waqf has removed more than 300 truckloads of excavated earth to a dump in the Kidron Valley.

Since 2005 a salvage operation at the dump by Israeli archaeologists Gabriel Barkay and Zachi Zweig has recovered thousands of Israelite antiquities from the discarded Temple Mount earth, including seals from families mentioned in the Bible, Babylonian and Roman arrowheads, and ancient Jewish coins. The Waqf’s construction work also caused a massive bulge in the Temple Mount’s southern wall that threatened to cause its collapse before it was repaired. Leading archaeologists, including Eilat Mazar, have called for protecting the Temple Mount’s ancient Jewish heritage, to no avail.



STEPHEN A. SILVER

San Francisco

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