Photo Credit: Miriam Alster / Flash 90
Israeli Arab Knesset member (Ra'am- Ta'al / Joint Arab List) Masoud Ganaim at an Education committee meeting in the Israeli parliament in 2012.

On the anniversary of the destruction of the two Jewish Holy Temples in Jerusalem, Tisha B’Av, an Israeli Arab lawmaker insisted in a radio interview that neither ever existed.

Joint Arab List (Ra’am Tal) Knesset member Masoud Ganaim made the statement during an interview Sunday (July 26) on Galei Tzahal Army Radio. Ganaim was asked – as was Jewish lawmaker Yinon Magal from the Bayit Yehudi party — about violent riots that were being perpetrated by Muslim Arabs in the Al Aqsa mosque on the site of the Temple Mount. The rioting Arabs hurled rocks, cement blocks, firebombs and other explosives at Israel Police and even Waqf Islamic Authority security personnel from inside the mosque.

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When asked about the violence, Ganaim said that the rock-throwing was not the problem: the real issue, he said, was the “incitement” caused by Jews wanting to pray at the site, considered the holiest in the Jewish faith.

Ganaim also said during the conversation that no Jewish Temples ever existed on the Temple Mount – and that he knows this for a fact because he is a history teacher.

“The State of Israel knows that Jews and Israel have no legitimacy to the site except for their legitimacy as an occupier – a legitimacy won by force,” he said. The MK blamed Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) in particular for visiting the site on Tisha B’Av, calling the minister an “occupier” and his visit “incitement.”

Magal responded that a system of reverse “apartheid” exists on the Temple Mount – against Jews – and that despite the sanctity of the site in Judaism … a Jew who wants to make a blessing over an apple he is preparing to eat will be arrested for “incitement.” At the same time, police do nothing to Arabs seen screaming or hurling rocks at visiting Jews.

“The site has always been holy to Islam,” Ganaim repeated, “never to any other religion.”

Was there ever a Jewish Temple on the site? the interviewer asked directly.

Ganaim flatly denied it, and followed up by saying he knew that to be true because he personally is a history teacher. “At most,” there “may have been” a temple “somewhere else,” he allowed, but noted that Jewish scriptures only refer to a future Temple in Jerusalem descending from Heaven.

Jews need to wait until that happens before attempting to visit the Temple Mount, Ganaim advised.

The Western Wall, located at the edge of the Temple Mount, is the remnant of outer retaining wall of the Second Holy Temple in Jerusalem, a fact confirmed numerous times by reputable archaeologists. The Second Temple was built upon the ruins of the First Temple.

There also exist an abundance of archaeological artifacts documenting a Second Temple presence on the Temple Mount itself as well, believed to have been the site of the Temple’s “holy of holies.” There are special laws delineated in the Torah as to when and how a Jew must be prepared in order to approach the site.

The future Temple of which Ganaim spoke is the Third Holy Temple which Jews await and which is expected to appear with the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkenu, the Messiah, who it is said will be born on Tisha B’Av.

May we all merit to see both speedily in our lifetimes.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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