Gold believes this trend began at the 2000 Camp David meetings when Yasir Arafat first stated publicly his breathtaking belief that there had never been a Jewish Temple at the site of the Temple Mount. Arafat, wrote Gold, thereby tossed “a stone of historical lies into a lake and its ripples spread all over the Middle East. ‘Temple Denial’ became a common theme at seminars in the UAE or in Jordan in the years that followed. European professors joined this anti-biblical trend.”
Ever since Camp David, the Palestinians have been relentless in creating a false impression of how important Jerusalem is to them, while at the same time they have de-Judaized Jerusalem and tried to obscure the Jewish relationship with and continuing presence in the holy city, something Middle East scholar Martin Kramer has called their desire to effect “a reversal of history.”
Writing in al-Hayat al-Jadida, in March 2009, for instance, Dr. Tayseer Al-Tamimi, PA religious court chief justice (and chairman of the Supreme Council of Islamic Law) absurdly claimed that “Jerusalem is the religious, political and spiritual capital of Palestine,” meaning a Palestinian Palestine, and that “the Jews have no rights to it.”
But the true danger of the Palestinian thinking about Jerusalem – and, indeed, about all of the Palestine that they covet, including Israel itself – was crystallized in Arafat’s own view that he expressed in a July 2000 edition of al-Hayat al-Jadida.
“I will not agree to any sovereign presence in Jerusalem,” he wrote, referring to the thorny issue of who – Israel or the Palestinians – would have sovereignty of the Holy Basin, “neither in the Armenian quarter, nor in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, neither in Via De La Rosa, nor in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. They can occupy us by force, because we are weaker now, but in two years, ten years, or one hundred years, there will be someone who will liberate Jerusalem [from them].”
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“Liberating” Jerusalem, of course, does not mean transforming it into a pluralistic, open city where members of three major faiths can live freely and practice their religions openly. Liberating Jerusalem for the Palestinians would be more in keeping with the type of liberation that Transjordan’s Arab League effected when they burned and looted the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem in 1948, expelled and killed its hapless Jewish population, destroyed some 58 synagogues, many hundreds of years old, unearthed gravestones from the history-laden Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives and used them for latrine pavers, and barred any Jew from praying at the Western Wall or entering the Temple Mount.
That same predilection to destroy religious property was on display again shortly after Camp David when a crazed Palestinian mob took sledgehammers to Joseph’s Tomb, a Jewish holy site, and obliterated it as Palestinian policemen stood by and watched.
More to the point, Abbas’s allegations that Israel threatens or cannot coexist with Muslim and Christian traditions is a most outrageous charge, not only because Israeli archeologists are fastidious in methodology and practice but also because, given what is happening currently atop the Temple Mount itself – one of the world’s richest archeological and historical sites – it is something the Muslim world, not the Israelis, should have to answer for.
Scholars and archeologists remember, for instance, the howls of outrage that arose from the Arab world in February 2007 when Israeli authorities initiated a project to rebuild a ramp to the Mugrabi Gate, an entrance to the Temple Mount plaza and the Al Aqsa Mosque platform that had been damaged in an earlier storm. Riots and protests began immediately, with accusations against Israel coming from throughout the Arab world for its “scheme” and treachery in digging under and threatening to destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque itself.
The committee of Muslim scholars in Jordan’s Islamic Action Front, for one, “urge[d] . . . proclaiming jihad to liberate Al Aqsa and save it from destruction and sabotage from Jewish usurpers,” a spurious claim since construction was taking place well outside the Mount platform, some 100 meters from the mosque, and clearly posed no possible threat.
It is also an oft-repeated charge, suggests Israeli columnist Nadav Shragai, frequently used by Arabs against Israel as a way of inciting hatred toward Jews for their perfidiousness and guile, something he calls the “Protect the Al Aksa Mosque” blood libel – a propaganda tool that has been used since the 1920s to cause mistrust of Jews when the then-Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, Hitler’s Middle East ally, exhorted Muslims everywhere to defend Islamic holy places in Jerusalem from the pernicious Jews, causing riots, bloodshed, and 133 Jewish deaths.