|An important article published by CAMERA
(Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America)
One of the main obstacles in previous peace-making efforts has been the issue of dividing Jerusalem and control over the Temple Mount. Muslim denial of Judaism’s historical and religious ties to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, the Waqf’s illegal construction there, and the violent response to Jewish activities there present an obstacle to peace-making efforts.
Both Israel and the Palestinians lay claim to Jerusalem and its holy sites. Israel maintains security and legal control over the Temple Mount while the Muslim Waqf has religious, economic, administrative, and some security control there. Past negotiations have faltered on Palestinian denial of any Jewish religious or historical connection and rights to the Temple Mount. During the July 2000 negotiations at Camp David, Yasir Arafat refused to acknowledge Jewish ties to the Temple Mount, claiming the Jewish Temple never existed there. When talks resumed in Taba later that year, the Israelis agreed to full Palestinian sovereignty on the Temple Mount, but requested Palestinians acknowledge the sacredness of the Temple Mount to Judaism. They refused. According to then-foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami:
It is therefore useful to look back at the history of the conflict. Throughout history, Jerusalem’s stature as a Muslim holy city typically diminished during periods when it was securely under Muslim control. As Dr. Daniel Pipes has chronicled in an overview of the topic, “the stature of the city, and the emotions surrounding it, inevitably rise for Muslims when Jerusalem has political significance. Conversely, when the utility of Jerusalem expires, so does its status and the passions about it.” (See “The Muslim Claim to Jerusalem,” Middle East Quarterly, September 2001)
Since 1967, there has been a growing attempt by Palestinians to marshal the religious fervor of the Arab and Muslim world in order to wrest Jerusalem from Israeli control. As historian Dr. Yitzhak Reiter documented in a 2005 study entitled “From Jerusalem to Mecca and Back: The Islamic Consolidation of Jerusalem,” their campaign involves denying the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount while advancing Jerusalem and particularly the al-Aqsa compound’s sacredness in contemporary Islam. It also involves reinventing history to create an Arab connection to Jerusalem predating the Jewish one.
Even now, there are mounting accusations that the Muslim Waqf is deliberately destroying ancient Jewish artifacts and structures from the First Temple period under the guise of renovations on the Temple Mount in order to erase any archeological evidence of Jewish existence there.
1) The Centrality of the Temple Mount to Judaism
Jewish reverence for the Temple Mount (Har HaBayit) long predates the building of the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque in the 7th century CE, and even predates the construction of the first Jewish Temple (Beit HaMikdash) by King Solomon almost 2000 years earlier in 954 BCE and which was destroyed in 587 BCE.
The Beit HaMikdash was built, according to Jewish tradition, on the Even Hashtiya, the foundation stone upon which the world was created. This is considered the epicenter of Judaism, where the Divine Presence (Shechina) rests, where the biblical Isaac was brought for sacrifice, where the Holy of Holies and Ark of the Covenant housing the Ten Commandments once stood, and where the Temple was again rebuilt in 515 BCE before being destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. The Temple Mount is also known as Mount Moriah (Har HaMoriah), mentioned frequently in the Torah.
Jerusalem, Judaism’s holiest city, is mentioned hundreds times in the Tanakh. It was the capital city of ancient Israeli kingdoms and home to Judaism’s holiest Temple. Jews from all over the ancient world would make pilgrimages to the Beit HaMikdash three times a year to participate in worship and festivities, as commanded in the Torah. Jerusalem and the Beit HaMikdash have remained the focus of Jewish longing, aspiration, and prayers. Daily prayers (said while facing Jerusalem and the Temple Mount) and grace after meals include multiple supplications for the restoration of Jerusalem and the Beit HaMikdash. Jews still maintain the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av, the date on which both the First and Second Temples were destroyed, as a day of mourning. The Jewish wedding ceremony concludes with the chanting of the biblical phrase, “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning,” and the breaking of a glass by the groom to commemorate the destruction of the Temples. And Yom Kippur services and the Passover Seder conclude each year with the phrase “Next Year in Jerusalem.”
The Western Wall (Kotel Hama’aravi, known simply as the Wall or Kotel) is the remnant of the outer retaining wall built by Herod to level the ground and expand the area housing the Second Jewish Temple. Its holiness derives from its proximity to the Temple site and specifically its proximity to the Western Wall of the Temple’s Holy of Holies (Kodesh Hakodashim—the inner sanctuary that housed the Ark of the Covenant–Aron HaBrit–and where the High Priest–Kohen Gadol– alone was permitted to enter on Yom Kippur). According to Midrashic sources, the Divine Presence never departed from the Western wall of the Temple’s Holy of Holies.
For the last several hundred years, Jews have prayed at Herod’s Western Wall because it was the closest accessible place to Judaism’s holiest site. According to Jewish tradition, the third and final Temple will be rebuilt with the coming of the Messiah.
There is a controversy among Orthodox rabbis regarding the permissibility of entering the Temple Mount compound. Many prohibit entering the compound because of the risk that someone ritually unpure might tread on the site of the Holy of Holies whose precise location is not known. Others permit entering the Temple Mount, saying they have determined where one can stand without touching holy soil. This area includes Herod’s expansion of the Temple, such as Solomon’s Stables, and the strip behind the Western Wall.
2) The Temple Mount as an Islamic Holy Site
Jerusalem assumed significance as an Islamic holy site during the rule of the Umayyads (661-750 CE). Facing challenge to his power from Ibn al-Zubayr, a rebel who controlled Mecca, the Syrian-based Caliph Abd al-Malik sought to consolidate his leadership by establishing a place of worship for his followers in Jerusalem in place of Mecca. He built the Dome of the Rock (Masjid Qubbat As-Sakhrah) in 688-91 CE on the spot where the Jewish Temples had stood.
Two decades later, in 715 CE, the Umayyads built another mosque on the Temple Mount which they named the Masjid al Aqsa (The Furthest Mosque) to connote the “furthest mosque” alluded to in the Quran (17:1). This was the metaphorical spot from which Mohammed was said to have ascended to heaven in a vision (referred to in Arabic as the Mi’raj) after a night journey from Mecca (the Isra) on a winged steed named Al Buraq.
Although the Quran never mentions Jerusalem or the Temple Mount, the designation of a concrete site to what had been until then just a figurative name provided Muslims with a new religious focus. Several Qur’anic verses were subsequently construed to be obliquely referring to Jerusalem. The Temple Mount was renamed by Muslims al Haram al Sharif, the Noble Sanctuary.
Following the end of Umayyad rule in 750 CE, Muslim interest in Jerusalem faded until the Crusaders took over in the 12th century CE. Kurdish leader Saladin (Salah-al-Din ibn Ayyub) reconquered Jerusalem in 1187, re-establishing Muslim rule there and embarking on a building campaign, which continued under his descendents, the Ayyubids. During Ayyubid rule, there were periods when Jerusalem and its holy sites were ceded to the Christian Crusaders, who built churches on the Temple Mount. Perhaps in reaction to Crusader conquests, Jerusalem became established in Muslim consciousness as the third holiest city in Islam, after Mecca and Medina. Even so, worship at this holy site was followed by long periods of Muslim neglect and disinterest.
The Western Wall, where Jews gathered to pray since the Ottoman conquest at the beginning of the 16th century, held little interest or significance for Muslims until the period of the British Mandate. Following the British government’s Balfour Declaration in 1917 which supported the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine, the Western Wall began to assume national as well as religious significance for Zionists and Jews began gathering there in larger numbers. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al Husseini, used the Wall as a focal point for his anti-Zionist campaigns. He incited Muslims by proclaiming the Western Wall a holy Muslim site which Jews were trying to seize. The Western Wall, after having been ignored for centuries, was suddenly declared the spot to which Mohammed had tied his winged steed during his Night Journey. The Wall was renamed Al Buraq after the horse. (Before this point, there had been several sites mentioned as the place where Muhammed had tethered his steed, including the eastern wall and the southern wall, but never the western wall.) Muslim riots in 1929 against Jewish worshipers at the Wall were instigated by the claim that Jewish prayer endangered the mosques holy to Islam.
While Jews were barred from entering and praying at their holy sites during Jordanian rule (1948-67), Jerusalem and the Temple Mount were largely ignored as important Muslim holy sites. But when Israel gained control of eastern Jerusalem and the Temple Mount in 1967, the area once again became a focal point for Muslim religious fervor and incitement. Despite the fact that Israeli authorities turned control of the Temple Mount over to the Jordanian Islamic Waqf as a gesture of peace, Muslims have followed the example set by Haj Amin al Husseini and have attempted to use the Temple Mount as a pretext to gain world support against Jewish authority over Jerusalem.
CONTROL OF THE TEMPLE MOUNT
During Jordan’s 19-year occupation of eastern Jerusalem (1948- 1967), Jewish holy places were desecrated, vandalized and destroyed. Jews were denied access to their holy sites (including the Western Wall and Temple Mount area) in violation of Article 8 of the 1949 Israeli-Jordanian Armistice Agreement. Christian churches were prohibited from buying property in Jerusalem and Christian religious organizations were restricted from owning property near Holy places. (For more details see: Backgrounder: History of Jerusalem)
Upon Israel’s 1967 capture of eastern Jerusalem containing Judaism’s holiest sites, Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan immediately ordered soldiers to remove an Israeli flag that had been raised over the Temple Mount. He declared:
Handing administrative control over the Temple Mount to Jordan’s Islamic Waqf, Dayan banned Jews from holding prayer services there. Israel, however, retained sovereignty and security control of the area.
Israel promised to continue the Hashemite Kingdom’s special status administering Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem. But following the Oslo II Agreements in 1994, Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat attempted to replace the Jordanian Waqf’s authority over the Temple Mount. He appointed Sheikh Ikrima Sabri as Mufti of Jerusalem and Hassan Tahboub as Minister of the Waqf and Religious Affairs, overshadowing the Jordanian-appointed head of the Islamic Waqf, Adnan Husseini.. Although Husseini was not dismissed from his post, his position became less relevant, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan thus effectively lost administrative and religious control of the Waqf to the Arafat’s Palestinian Authority.
In 2004, the Jordanians began to reassert their control over the Jerusalem Waqf. In July 2006, Sheikh Ikrima Sabri who was aligning himself more and more with the radical Israeli-Arab was replaced by Sheikh Mohammad Hussein as Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. In March 2007, Sheikh Azzam Khatib al Tamimi became head of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf.
REWRITING HISTORY: ERASING THE JEWISH CONNECTION TO HOLY SITES AND CREATING A FICTITIOUS ARAB HISTORY
In 1924, the Supreme Moslem Council published an English-language tourist guide to the Temple Mount entitled “A Brief Guide to al-Haram al-Sharif,” which stated:
But Muslim acknowledgement of a Jewish historic bond to this holy site changed following Israel’s victory in the 1967 war, when Jerusalem came under Israel’s control. Palestinian and Muslim leaders began to alter their line. While the stories they recount differ from one to another, they are consistent in their attempt to erase the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, Jerusalem, and indeed all of Israel.
Below are examples of statements by Palestinian political and religious leaders and academics as well as other Arab and Muslim leaders denying the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, especially during negotiations over Jerusalem and its holy sites.
1) Palestinian Political Leaders
Ambassador Dennis Ross, who shaped U.S. involvement in the Middle East peace process as Special Middle East Coordinator and who presided over President Clinton’s failed Israeli-Palestinian peace summit at Camp David in 2000, reported that Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat raised only one idea at the Camp David talks – namely, to deny the core of the Jewish faith by claiming that the Temple had never existed in Jerusalem, but in Nablus.
Later, in an Oct. 5, 2002 interview with London’s Al Hayat, he went even further in his denial of Jewish history, changing the story once more. He alleged not only that the Jewish Temple never existed in Jerusalem, but that it had never existed in any of Palestine:
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, bolstered by the West as a moderate, similarly denies that a Jewish Temple existed on the Temple Mount. He was quoted as saying:
Other Palestinian political leaders have followed suit. For example, Nabil Sha’ath of the Palestinian Legislative Council and senior advisor to President Mahmoud Abbas who previously was chief negotiator in Israeli-Palestinian talks labels the Jewish temple as "fictitious." He said:
Walid Awad, foreign press spokesman for the Fatah Central Media Commission and formerly director of foreign publications for the PLO’s Ministry of Information, stated an interview with IMRA on Dec. 25, 1996:
In an online article “Jerusalem, A City Crying Out For Justice” put out by Awad as the director of foreign publications for the PA Ministry of Information (the PA Web site is no longer available), Awad accuses Israel of falsifying history and archeology after 1967 in order to create a Jewish connection to Jerusalem:
2) Palestinian Religious Leaders
Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, previous Mufti of Jerusalem
Ikrima Sabri, until recently the Palestinian Authority-appointed mufti of Jerusalem and the highest ranking Islamic clerical authority in the PA, insists Jews have no connection to any part of the Temple Mount, including the Western Wall. In 1997, he proclaimed:
In 2000, he reiterated this in an Israeli-Arab weekly::
And a few months later, he gave an interview to a German daily in which he again asserted:
In 2002, Sabri wrote a booklet, entitled Palestine – the Human Factor and the Land which was published in Egypt in August 2002. In it, he used as evidence the anti-Semitic forgery “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”to support his allegation that the Jews have for centuries been secretly plotting to take over Palestine. He denied any Jewish historic connection and right to the land, labeling the Jewish Temple built by Solomon as “imaginary.”
Tayseer Tamimi, Chief Religious Justice of the PA
The Palestinian Authority’s chief religious official, Tayseer Tamimi frequently speaks at public events and on Palestinian TV. In a televised interview on June 9, 2009, he demonized Jews, denying Jewish heritage and ties to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.
Reversing history and turning truth on its head, he accused Jews of falsely converting the “Al Buraq” wall into a Jewish site.
He made absurd allegations about Jewish scientific attempts to destroy Arab holy sites:
3) Palestinian Academics
Palestinian academics, using their credentials to lend weight to their claims–often on Palestinian educational TV– have frequently denied the Jewish historical connection to the land, replacing it with a fictitious Arab connection. According to them, the Bible has no historical veracity. Palestinians, they claim, are the direct descendants of Canaanites, while Jews, they say, are descendants of Khazars who have no claim to the land.
Dr. Issam Sissalem, Professor of Middle Eastern History at the Islamic University of Gaza, frequently appears on PA television, denying any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, Jerusalem and the Land of Israel.
About Solomon’s Temple, he asserts:
And about the Western Wall, he claims:
In fact, Sissalem attempts to erase all Jewish connection to the Land of Israel:
Historian and former Arafat advisor Jarar al Qidwa makes similar assertions:
4) Other Arab and Muslim Claims
The attempt to erase the Jewish connection to Israel is not limited to the Palestinians. The extent to which this denial has caught on in the Arab and Muslim world was revealed in Yitzhak Reiter’s study (in Hebrew) which was based on thousands of Islamic legal rulings, proclamations and writings that he found at the Cairo book fair, Arabic websites and Islamic bookshops. (Ha’aretz columnist Nadav Shragai summarized some of Reiter’s findings in a November 27, 2005 column entitled “In the beginning was Al-Aqsa.”)
Below are just a few of many examples since 1967:
On December 30, 1973, King Feisal of Saudi Arabia proclaimed on Radio Riyadh
Saudi historian Muhammed Hassan Sharab declares that the Quranic Al Aqsa mosque encompasses the entire Temple Mount compound including the Western Wall and that the Temple of Solomon was never located there.
Egyptian archaeologist Abed al-Rahim Rihan Barakat, Director of Antiquities in the Dahab area of Sinai. Barakat asserts:
University of Cairo lecturer and one-time TV host Abed al-Tuwab Mustafa claims that there is no basis for the Jewish claim of a holy Temple on Mount Moriah.
Lebanese historian Kamal Salibi, Professor Emeritus at the American University of Beirut theorizes that ancient Israelites never inhabited Palestine and that biblical events occurred, not in Palestine but in southwestern Arabia, between Mecca and Yemen. He expounds upon this theory in a1985 book, The Bible Came from Arabia, basing his claims on the fact that many places in Arabia bear biblical names.
In the U.S., Nadia Abu El Haj, a tenured professor of Anthropology at Barnard College, wrote a book alleging that Israeli archeology is compromised by nationalist political motives to substantiate the nation’s “origin myth.” Although she has no archeological expertise herself, she dismisses the vast archeological evidence supporting historical and biblical accounts of the long Jewish presence in Israel as having been manipulated in order to produce evidence for an Israelite connection to the land.
5) Claims that Al Aqsa Mosque was built by Adam
In recent years, differing new claims have arisen as to who built the Al Aqsa mosque. Almost all these claims predate Solomon’s construction of the First Jewish Temple in 954 BCE. But the allegation gaining the most currency among Muslims is that this mosque was built by Adam. Abdullah Marouf, a former Media and Public Relations Officer of the al-Aqsa mosque now runs a Web site (http://www.ouraqsa.com/english/) devoted to the Al Aqsa mosque providing English readers with the rewritten “history” of the structure:
Western journalists must find it difficult to understand an Arab revisionist history that rejects and denies basic truths accepted in the Judeo-Christian tradition. And so they tend to dismiss or ignore it. But understanding Arab denial of Judaism’s foundation and therefore Israel’s right to exist is essential to understanding the entire Arab-Israeli peace process.
THE WAQF’S ATTEMPT TO CHANGE THE STATUS QUO
In 1967, Israel passed the Protection of Holy Places Law, granting special legal status to the Holy Sites and making it a criminal offense to desecrate or violate, or impede freedom of access to them.
Other laws mandated prior agreement from the Ministry of Religious Affairs or Ministry of Education and Culture in order to carry out excavations in or near a holy site. A 1978 Antiquities Law stipulates that where such a site is used for religious reasons, paving, quarrying, and interment and other actions can only be carried out with the written agreement of the Director of the Department of Antiquities.
The Muslim Waqf, however, consistently refuses to recognize Israeli sovereignty or the laws governing holy sites. Attempting to change the status quo of the Temple Mount, the Waqf has repeatedly flouted these laws with excavations and construction of new mosques. Many believe that under the guise of renovations on the Temple Mount, the Waqf is deliberately destroying archeological evidence of the site’s Jewish history.
In the 1970′s, the Waqf illegally dug a trench for utility lines without archeological supervision. This excavation exposed a 16-foot-long, six-foot-thick wall believed to have been part of the Herodian Temple complex. The wall was dismantled and covered up.
A 1983 article and editorial in Biblical Archeology Review accused the Waqf of concealing evidence of the First (Solomonic) and Second Temples with dirt, plantings and paving. The editorial demanded that qualified archeologists be given access to survey the Temple Mount site and called upon Muslim and Jewish archeologists to cooperate in preserving archeological remains there. The journal published before and after pictures of the archeological damage..
The Israeli authorities repeatedly failed to enforce the antiquity laws or to stop the Waqf’s unauthorized excavations because they felt it would be harmful to Arab-Israeli relations. This prompted a lawsuit against both the Waqf and Israeli authorities by “The Temple Mount Faithful,” an Israeli group seeking to rebuild a third Jewish temple on the site of the First and Second Temples. The Supreme Court ruled that the Waqf had indeed violated Israel’s antiquities laws on 35 occasions, causing irreparable damage or destruction to antiquities, but refused to intervene because of political sensitivities and the understanding that the laws would be enforced appropriately in the future.
But in 1996, the Waqf embarked on the conversion of the area under the southeastern corner of the Temple Mount — Solomon’s Stables and the eastern Hulda Gate — into what was to be the largest mosque in the country with a capacity of 7-10,000. Calling it the Marwani mosque, the Waqf claimed that this was simply a renovation of a pre-existing mosque, although archeologists stated that there was no evidence for this. Operating without any archeological oversight and with no permits, the Waqf surreptitiously brought in heavy machinery and proceeded to construct, prompting the Jerusalem municipality to obtain a court order to halt the unsupervised building. This became highly politicized when Palestinians reacted with violent riots to Israel’s attempt to open a second exit from the Hasmonean tunnels (see below). Not wanting to escalate the situation, Israel’s Labor government allowed the Waqf to complete its work and open the mosque.
Over the next few years, the Waqf continued with its unilateral, unapproved construction and inaugurated a new mosque, called al Aqsa al Qadima. This incorporated the western Hulda gate double passageway — the only complete passageway remaining from the time of the Second Temple.
In 1999, after receiving approval to open an emergency exit in the Marwani mosque, the Waqf used bulldozers to expand the Solomon’s Stable mosque and excavate a massive opening (18,000 square feet by 36 feet) . As Ha’aretz columnist Nadav Shragai wrote, “For the first time since 1967, a fleet of dozens of bulldozers and trucks was put to work on the Temple Mount, and 6,000 tons of earth from the Mount was dug up and removed.” Workers dumped this rubble in the Kidron Valley. Amir Drori, director of the Antiquities Authority at the time, called it “an archeological crime” and Attorney General Elyakim Rubenstein denounced it as “an assault on Jewish history.” (See “Media Mute on the Temple Mount Desecrations“)
Archeologists claimed that important artifacts from the First and Second Temples were found in this rubble, and in 2004, a project to sift the dumped material was initiated. Funded by the City of David Foundation and directed by Professor Gabriel Barkai and Tzachi Zweig, archeologists and volunteers have uncovered thousands of rare and important artifacts from the First and Second Temple periods, as well as from Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Early Arab periods, among them a rare bulla dating from the First Temple period.
The Waqf cut off all access to the Israeli Antiquities Authority from the Temple Mount in 2000. In response to the continued unauthorized construction work by the Waqf on the Temple Mount, a non-political, volunteer committee was formed to take action. Called “The Committee for the Prevention of Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount,” (CPDATM) it included prominent archeologists, judges, lawyers, literary and other public figures from across the Israeli political spectrum.. They called upon the Prime Minister to order the immediate halt to the illegal, unsupervised construction by the Waqf on the Temple Mount – work which, they claimed, was causing “grave harm to archeology.” The Waqf was accused of large-scale construction over an area of thousands of square meters, using heavy machinery, paving over extensive areas, and removing earth rich in archeological findings. The Shin Bet also warned the prime minister of Waqf plans to open additional mosques on the Temple Mount.
Despite the Waqf’s banning of archeologists, journalists and government officials from entering the area, aerial photographs and undercover reports and films provided a picture of what was happening . A letter by the CPDATM to then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon includes details of the damage and destruction by the Waqf. Despite numerous legal petitions by CPDATM and other groups to halt the Waqf’s illegal construction, but the Supreme Court continued in its refusal to intervene.
Again in the summer of 2007, the Waqf began to dig a deep trench to replace old electric cables. Although Israeli police and the antiquities Antiquities Authority approved the excavation, heavy tractors were used. The CPDATM protested the use of heavy equipment and the lack of careful archaeological supervision but the work went on, apparently damaging what was later found to be structures dating to the First and Second Temples.
Ha’aretz columnist Nadav Shragai has written about the lack of supervision over the Waqf’s illegal building. He points out that both the Israel Antiquities Authority and the municipal licensing and inspection department have been denied access to the Temple Mount and information about what happens there. Moreover, there appears to be a “deliberate interference” by police and whoever is in charge to prevent information from reaching the antiquities authority. ( See “The Latest Damage to Antiquities on the Temple Mount” by Nadav Shragai.)
By contrast, an attempt in 1981 by the rabbi of the Western Wall, Yehuda Meir Getz, to secretly reopen an ancient sealed gate and manually excavate an existent tunnel carved into the rock under the Temple Mount (believed to lead to the Holy of Holies and possibly the original lost Ark of the Covenant) was halted by the Israeli government, which ordered the opening sealed with reinforced concrete. (See “Raiders of the Lost Ark” by Nadav Shragai)
The reluctance to enforce Israel’s laws protecting antiquities and evidence of its Jewish heritage is rooted in the desire to prevent Arab violence and rioting.
Even while they attempt to change the status quo of the Temple Mount, Muslim leaders oppose any Jewish effort to visit, investigate, excavate, repair, or renovate the area. From the 1920′s onward, Arab leaders have repeatedly incited anti-Jewish violence and jihad in the name of “defending” Muslim holy sites, a pretense for jihad in the name of Islam.
In September 1928, a small group of Jews erected a “mechitza” (a divider to separate men and women during prayers) for Yom Kippur prayers at the Western Wall. The British forcibly dismantled the divider, but Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al Husseini used this incident as a pretext to incite Muslims. He accused the Jews of attempting to seize Muslim holy sites, including the al Aqsa Mosque.
A virulent propaganda campaign calling for jihad against the Jews resulted in the frequent beating and stoning of Jews worshiping at the Wall and culminated in widespread, murderous riots across Palestine in August 1929. “Defend the Holy Places” became the battle cry.
During Jordan’s occupation of Jerusalem, Jews were unable to even reach their holy sites. After Israel gained control of the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, large-scale archaeological expeditions near the Western Wall area were begun by Professor Benjamin Mazar, followed by additional excavations by Meir Ben Dov and Dan Bahat. They uncovered layers of history over 2000 years — from the First Temple period to Ottoman times– which were preserved and displayed. Despite the valuable historical finds — several of them Muslim, they were met by resistance and often violent efforts to obstruct Israeli excavations under the guise of Israeli “aggression” toward Muslim holy sites.
An ongoing tunnel project to explore the length of the Western Wall under the supervision of Ben Dov and Bahat exposed the Herodian walls and a complex of subterranean vaulted spaces that extend along it along with dramatic archeological finds — a Herodian promenade alongside the Mount, cisterns, ancient masonry, Muslim construction, and an ancient Hasmonean aqueduct. The aqueduct, which had been discovered in the previous century by British archeologists, was re-excavated in 1987, connecting to the already completed 500-meter tunnel excavation to reveal the length of the Western Wall. Called the “Western Wall Tunnels,” the area was open to the public in 1987. Over the next nine years, several attempts were made by Israel’s Religious Affairs Ministry to open a second exit at the north end of the Hasmonean aqueduct/tunnel at the ground level near (but not within) the Temple Mount so that visitors would not have to retrace their steps through the narrow tunnel. These attempts were met by riots incited by Waqf leaders who called upon Arabs to defend their holy sites, falsely claiming that the Jews were trying to undermine Muslim shrines.
In 1993, Israeli authorities started to construct an exit tunnel and staircase from the Hasmonean tunnel that exited on the Via Dolorosa — a considerable distance (more than 200 meters) from the Al Aqsa Mosque. Approval was given by the Netanyahu government to open this exit on September 24, 1996. Israel had negotiated with the Waqf, accepting limited Muslim worship in Solomon’s Stables in exchange for Waqf acceptance of the new doorway. Nevertheless, Palestinian reaction was swift and violent, with Waqf members joining in.
PA leader Yasir Arafat called upon Palestinians to protest this “big crime against our religious and holy places.” Palestinian Council member Saeb Erekat fabricated on television that “the Israelis… announced that they will open this tunnel in order to build … a new temple now in the place of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.” The Palestinian Authority orchestrated violent protests, reminiscent of those in 1929. For the first time, PA police fired upon Israeli soldiers. Hundreds of people — both Israeli and Palestinian were killed or wounded. (See “The Media’s Tunnel Vision 1” and “The Media’s Tunnel Vision 2“)
When Knesset member Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount (but none of the mosques there) in September 2000, Arafat used it as a pretext to launch a violent and bloody intifada against Israel that lasted for years and in which thousands were killed or maimed.
In 2004, the Mughrabi ramp — leading from the Western Wall Plaza to the Mughrabi Gate (built over an ancient Temple gate, and the only one from which non-Muslims are permitted to enter the Temple Mount) — partially collapsed during a storm. After extensive deliberations, Israel’s Antiquities Authority decided to build a temporary bridge, remove the ramp in a careful salvage excavation and replace it with a new access route. The temporary bridge was built at the end of 2005, and after an additional year of deliberations, the permit for the new construction was finally issued. The guidelines for the construction of the new bridge required that special care and attention be given not to harm religious sensitivities, the holy places, or other religious interests.
The Antiquities Authority prohibits excavation on the Temple Mount itself and so the work was to be done more than 60 meters away. The Waqf was duly informed of the plans. But when the excavation and construction finally began in February 2007, Muslim leaders incited Palestinian riots with their time-proven battle cry “Defend the Holy Places,” charging that the excavations were being carried out in order to damage the Al Aqsa Mosque. They threatened a new intifada, while Palestinian terrorist groups vowed to respond by carrying out attacks within Israel. In the face of Palestinian violence, some Israeli officials and archeologists called for a halt in the construction. International protests followed and the construction was suspended.
The battle over Jerusalem and the Temple Mount is an ongoing one and the most important issue confronting Arab and Israeli peacemakers. A thorough understanding of the forces at work is thus essential.
Article was originally published by Palestinian Media Watch — www.palwatch.org
PALESTINIAN LEADERS DENY JERUSALEM’S PAST
By Bari Weiss [Wall Street Journal]
Jews have no history in the city of Jerusalem: They have never lived there, the Temple never existed, and Israeli archaeologists have admitted as much. Those who deny this are simply liars. Or so says Sheik Tayseer Rajab Tamimi, chief Islamic judge of the Palestinian Authority.
His claims, made last month, would be laughable if they weren’t so common among Palestinians. Sheik Tamimi is only the latest to insist that, in his words, Jerusalem is solely “an Arab and Islamic city and it has always been so.” His comments come on the heels of those by Shamekh Alawneh, a lecturer in modern history at Al Quds University. On an Aug. 11 PA television program, “Jerusalem—History and Culture,” Mr. Alawneh argued that the Jews invented their connection to Jerusalem. “It has no historical roots,” he said, adding that the Jews are engaging in “an attack on history, theft of culture, falsification of facts, erasure of the truth, and Judaization of the place.”
The Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock
As politicians gear up to propose yet another plan for Israeli-Arab peace, they would do well to focus less on important but secondary issues like settlement growth, and instead notice that top Palestinian intellectual and political leaders deny basic truths about the region’s most important city. It is a widespread custom then to recite the 137th psalm (“If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither, let my tongue cleave to my palate. . .” ).
From the Herodian period, aside from dozens of Jewish ritual baths surrounding the temple that have been uncovered, one retaining wall of the temple, the Western Wall, still stands.
But Sheik Tamimi doesn’t need to take the Jews’ word for any of this, or that of legions of world-class scholars. For proof of the Jewish connection to Jerusalem, he need only look at writings from his own religious tradition.
The Koran, which references many biblical stories and claims figures like Abraham as Islamic prophets, also acknowledges the existence of the Jewish temples.
The historian Karen Armstrong has written that the Koran refers to Solomon’s Temple as a “great place of prayer” and that the first Muslims referred to Jerusalem as the “City of the Temple.” Martin Kramer, a historian who has combed through Koranic references to the temples in Arabic, notes surra 34, verse 13, which discusses Solomon’s building process: “They [jinn/spirits] worked for him as he desired, (making) arches, images, basins large as wells, and (cooking) cauldrons fixed (in their places).”
Genuine 1924 Temple Mount Guide Tells the truth
First Edition (1924) cover of Al-Haram Al-Sharif
|There is still more recent official Muslim acknowledgment of Jerusalem’s Jewish history — a booklet (order a copy here) put out in 1924 by the Supreme Muslim Council called “A Brief Guide to Al-Haram Al-Sharif.” Al-haram al-sharif, the Arabic name for the Temple Mount, is currently the site of the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosque. It is, according to Islamic tradition, where Muhammad ascended to heaven. Yet it is also, according to the council’s booklet, a site of uncontested importance for the Jews. “The site is one of the oldest in the world. Its sanctity dates from the earliest (perhaps from pre-historic) times.|
Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute.” And the booklet quotes the book of Samuel: “This, too, is the spot, according to the universal belief, on which ‘David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offering and peace offerings.” Later, the booklet says the underground structure known as King Solomon’s Stables probably dates “as far back as the construction of Solomon’s Temple.”
Citing the historian Flavius Josephus, it claims the stables were likely used as a “place of refuge by the Jews at the time of the conquest of Jerusalem by Titus in the year 70 A.D.”
So why do those like Mr. Tamimi deny what their predecessors acknowledged? To undermine Israel, which earned statehood in 1948 and captured the Old City of Jerusalem during the Six Day War of 1967. Since then, Palestinian leaders have fought to erase any Jewish connection to sacred places, particularly the Temple Mount.
While Israel has never hesitated to acknowledge Jerusalem’s holiness in Islam—albeit saying that it has less importance than Mecca—Palestinian leaders insist that Jews are transplants in the region, nothing more than white European colonialists. This denial has formed the foundation for their argument that Jerusalem should become Palestine’s capital. This is why the previous mufti of the Palestinian Authority, Sheik Ikrama Sabri, dismisses the Western Wall as “just a fence.” Yasser Arafat classified it, bizarrely, as “a Muslim shrine.” As Saeb Erekat, Arafat’s chief negotiator, said to President Clinton at Camp David in 2000: “I don’t believe there was a temple on top of the Haram [holy site], I really don’t.”
These sentiments are echoed in Palestinian primary-school textbooks, preached at mosques, and printed in official newspapers.
Palestinian leadership isn’t bellyaching over borders—it is stating, in full voice, that Israel has no right to its most basic historical and religious legacy.
This is no foundation for “peace talks.”
— This article appeared in The Wall Street Journal (September 25, 2009).
– Ms. Weiss, the author, is an assistant editorial features editor at The Wall Street Journal.
~ SOMETHING ELSE TO CONSIDER ~
The Global Islamic population is approximately 1,200,000,000
ONE BILLION TWO HUNDRED MILLION or 20% of the world’s population.
They have received the following Nobel Prizes:
1988 – Najib Mahfooz
1978 – Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat..
1990- Elias James Corey
1994 – Yaser Arafat:
1999 – Ahmed Zewai.
1960 – Peter Brian Medawar
1998 – Ferid Mourad
TOTAL: 7 — SEVEN
The Global Jewish population is approximately 14,000,000
Only FOURTEEN MILLION or about 0.02% of the world’s population.
They have received the following Nobel Prizes:
1910 – Paul Heyse
1927 – Henri Bergson
1958 – Boris Pasternak
1966 – Shmuel Yosef Agnon
1966 – Nelly Sachs
1976 – Saul Bellow
1978 – Isaac Bashevis Singer
1981 – Elias Canetti
1987 – Joseph Brodsky
1991 – Nadine Gordimer World
1911 – Alfred Fried
1911 – Tobias Michael Carel Asser
1968 – Rene Cassin
1973 – Henry Kissinger
1978 – Menachem Begin
1986 – Elie Wiesel
1994 – Shimon P eres
1994 – Yitzhak Rabin
1905 – Adolph Von Baeyer
1906 – Henri Moissan
1907 – Albert Abraham Michelson
1908 – Gabriel Lippmann
1910 – Otto Wallach
1915 – Richard Willstaetter
1918 – Fritz Haber
1921 – Albert Einstein
1922 – Niels Bohr
1925 – James Franck
1925 – Gustav Hertz
1943 – Gustav Stern
1943 – George Charles de Hevesy
1944 – Isidor Issac Rabi
1952 – Felix Bloch
1954 – Max Born
1958 – Igor Tamm
1959 – Emilio Segre
1960 – Donald A. Glaser
1961 – Robert Hofstadter
1961 – Melvin Calvin
1962 – Lev Davidovich Landau
1962 – Max Ferdinand Perutz
1965 – Richard Phillips Feynman
1965 – Julian Schwinger
1969 - Murray Gell-Mann
1971 – Dennis Gabor
1972 – William Howard Stein
1973 – Brian David Josephson
1975 – Benjamin Mottleson
1976 – Burton Richter
1977 – Ilya Prigogine
1978 – Arno Allan Penzias
1978 – Peter L Kapitza
1979 – Stephen Weinberg
1979 – Sheldon Glashow
1979 – Herbert Charles Brown
1980 – Paul Berg
1980 – Walter Gilbert
1981 – Roald Hoffmann
1982 – Aaron Klug
1985 – Albert A. Hauptman
1985 – Jerome Karle
1986 – Dudley R. Herschbach
1988 – Robert Huber
1988 – Leon Lederman
1988 – Melvin Schwartz
1988 – Jack Steinberger
1989 – Sidney Altman
1990 – Jerome Friedman
1992 – Rudolph Marcus
1995 – Martin Perl
2000 – Alan J. Heeger
1970 – Paul Anthony Samuelson
1971 – Simon Kuznets
1972 – Kenneth Joseph Arrow
1975 – Leonid Kantorovich
1976 – Milton Friedman
1978 – Herbert A. Simo n
1980 – Lawrence Robert Klein
1985 – Franco Modigliani
1987 – Robert M. Solow
1990 – Harry Markowitz
1990 – Merton Miller
1992 – Gary Becker
1993 – Robert Fogel
1908 – Elie Metchnikoff
1908 – Paul Erlich
1914 – Robert Barany
1922 – Otto Meyerhof
1930 – Karl Landsteiner
1931 – Otto Warburg
1936 – Otto Loewi
1944 – Joseph Erlanger
1944 – Herb ert Spencer Gasser
1945 – Ernst Boris Chain
1946 – Hermann Joseph Muller
1950 – Tadeus Reichstein
1952 – Selman Abraham Waksman
1953 – Hans Krebs
1953 – Fritz Albert Lipmann
1958 – Joshua Lederberg
1959 – Arthur Kornberg
1964 – Konrad Bloch
1965 – Francois Jacob
1965 – Andre Lwoff
1967 – George Wald
1968 – Marshall W. Nirenberg
1969 – Salvador Luria
1970 – Julius Axelrod
1970 – Sir Bernard Katz
1972 – Gerald Maurice Edelman
1975 – Howard Martin Temin
1976 – Baruch S. Blumberg
1977 – Roselyn Sussman Yalow
1978 – Daniel Nathans
1980 – Baruj Benacerraf
1984 – Cesar Milstein
1985 – Michael Stuart Brown
1985 – Joseph L. Goldstein
1986 – Stanley Cohen [& Rita Levi-Montalcini]
1988 – Gertrude Elion
1989 – Harold Varmus
1991 – Erwin Neher
1991 – Bert Sakmann
1993 – Richard J.. Roberts
1993 – Phillip Sharp
1994 – Alfred Gilman
1995 – Edward B. Lewis
TOTAL: 129 – ONE HUNDRED TWENTY NINE!
This list of Nobel prizes is not submitted to show who is smarter. Intelligence shows no favoritism, transcending all races, ethnicities, and religions.
The purpose behind the facts regarding Nobel prizes is to exhibit what can happen when the focus of one’s existence is to learn and to give back to others.
It’s easy to blame, tear down, and destroy. It takes hard work, a focus on personal responsibility, determination, and proper motivation to build.
The facts are clear: The Jews are NOT promoting brain washing children in military training camps, teaching them how to blow themselves up and cause maximum deaths of Jews and other non Muslims!
The Jews DO NOT hijack planes, nor kill athletes at the Olympics, or blow themselves up in German restaurants. There is NOT one single Jew that has destroyed a church. There is NOT a single Jew that protests by killing people.
The Jews DO NOT traffic slaves. Jews DO NOT have leaders calling for Jihad and death to all the Infidels.
Perhaps the world’s Muslims should consider investing more in standard education and less in blaming the Jews and Americans for all their problems.
Muslims must ask ‘what can we do for humankind?’ before they demand that humankind respects them!! Is Islam truly a peaceful religion? If so, why don’t all self-respecting Muslims take care of their own — publicly decrying all terrorism, searching and then rooting out all acts of terrorism?
Regardless of your feelings about the crisis between Israel and the Palestinians and Arab neighbors, even if you believe there is more culpability on Israel’s part, the following statement really say it all:
“If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel.” — Benjamin Netanyahu
Even those who aren’t particularly sympathetic to Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, could get a good measure of satisfaction from this interview with British Television during the retaliation against Hamas’ shelling of Israel.
The interviewer asked him: “How come so many more Palestinians have been killed in this conflict than Israelis?”
Netanyahu: “Are you sure that you want to start asking in that direction?”
Interviewer: (Falling into the trap) Why not?
Netanyahu: “Because in World War II more Germans were killed than British and Americans combined, but there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the war was caused by Germany’s aggression. And in response to the German blitz on London, the British wiped out the entire city of Dresden, burning to death more German civilians than the number of people killed in Hiroshima. Moreover, I could remind you that in 1944, when the R.A.F. tried to bomb the Gestapo Headquarters in Copenhagen , some of the bombs missed their target and fell on a Danish children’s hospital, killing 83 little children. Perhaps you have another question?”
Apparently, Benjamin Netanyahu gave an interview and was asked about Israel’s occupation of Arab lands. His response was, “It’s our land”. The reporter (CNN or the like) was stunned -
read below “It’s our land…” It’s important information since we don’t get fair and accurate reporting from the media and facts tend to get lost in the jumble of daily events.
CRASH COURSE ON THE ARAB / ISRAELI CONFLICT
Here are overlooked facts in the current & past Middle East situation. These were compiled by a University professor: BRIEF FACTS ON THE ISRAELI CONFLICT TODAY…(It takes just 1.5 minutes to read!) It makes sense and it’s not slanted. Jew and non-Jew — it doesn’t matter.
1. Nationhood and Jerusalem. Israel became a nation in 1312 BCE, Two thousand years before the rise of Islam.
2. Arab refugees in Israel began identifying themselves as part of a Palestinian people in 1967, two decades after the establishment of the modern State of Israel.
3. Since the Jewish conquest in 1272 BCE, the Jews have had dominion over the land for one thousand years with a continuous presence in the land for the past 3,300 years.
4. The only Arab dominion since the conquest in 635 CE lasted no more than 22 years.
5. For over 3,300 years, Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital. Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab or Muslim entity. Even when the Jordanians occupied Jerusalem, they never sought to make it their capital, and Arab leaders did not come to visit.
6. Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in Tanach, the Jewish Holy scriptures. Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Koran.
7. King David founded the city of Jerusalem. Mohammed never came to Jerusalem.
8. Jews pray facing Jerusalem. Muslims pray with their backs toward Jerusalem.
9. Arab and Jewish Refugees: in 1948 the Arab refugees were encouraged to leave Israel by Arab leaders promising to purge the land of Jews. Sixty-eight percent left without ever seeing an Israeli soldier.
10 The Jewish refugees were forced to flee from Arab lands due to Arab brutality, persecution and pogroms.
11. The number of Arab refugees who left Israel in 1948 is estimated to be around 630,000. The number of Jewish refugees from Arab lands is estimated to be the same.
12. Arab refugees were INTENTIONALLY not absorbed or integrated into the Arab lands to which they fled, despite the vast Arab territory. Out of the 100,000,000 refugees since World War II, theirs is the only refugee group in the world that has never been absorbed or integrated into their own people’s lands. Jewish refugees were completely absorbed into Israel, a country no larger than the state of New Jersey ..
13. The Arab-Israeli Conflict: the Arabs are represented by eight separate nations, not including the Palestinians. There is only one Jewish nation. The Arab nations initiated all five wars and lost. Israel defended itself each time and won.
14. The PLO’s Charter still calls for the destruction of the State of Israel. Israel has given the Palestinians most of the West Bank land, autonomy under the Palestinian Authority, and has supplied them.
15. Under Jordanian rule, Jewish holy sites were desecrated and the Jews were denied access to places of worship. Under Israeli rule, all Muslim and Christian sites have been preserved and made accessible to people of all faiths.
16. The UN Record on Israel and the Arabs: of the 175 Security Council resolutions passed before 1990, 97 were directed against Israel.
17. Of the 690 General Assembly resolutions voted on before 1990, 429 were directed against Israel.
18. The UN was silent while 58 Jerusalem Synagogues were destroyed by the Jordanians.
19. The UN was silent while the Jordanians systematically desecrated the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives.
20. The UN was silent while the Jordanians enforced an apartheid-like a policy of preventing Jews from visiting the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.
These are incredible times. We have to ask what our role should be. What will we tell our grandchildren about what we did when there was a turning point in Jewish destiny, an opportunity to make a difference?
Click here to review a pdf of all 16 pages of a 1927 edition of al-Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount Guide). — Pages 4 & 16 have the content most significant within the context of this blog. (pdf provided by BiblePlaces.com).
ORDER: For quantities of the 1924 reproduction first edition of Temple Mount Guide. Please include your name, city/country (to determine S&H cost) and telephone number when making inquiries. Which email address is the best for you to contact?
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“Peculiar proliferation of Palestine refugees: Status has been passed from one generation to the next”
Of all the issues that drive the Arab-Israeli conflict, none is more central, malign, primal, enduring, emotional, and complex than the status of those persons known as Palestine refugees.
The origins of this unique case, notes Nitza Nachmias of Tel Aviv University, goes back to Count Folke Bernadotte, the United Nations Security Council’s mediator. Referring to those Arabs who fled the British mandate of Palestine, he argued in 1948 that the UN had a “responsibility for their relief” because it was a UN decision, the establishment of Israel, that had made them refugees. However inaccurate his view, it still remains alive and potent and helps explain why the UN devotes unique attention to Palestine refugees pending their own state.
Folke Bernadotte, Count of Wisborg (1895-1948), whose legacy still guides United Nations policy vis-à-vis Palestinians.
True to Bernadotte’s legacy, the UN set up a range of special institutions exclusively for Palestine refugees. Of these, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, founded in 1949, stands out as the most important. It is both the only refugee organization to deal with a specific people (the United Nations High Commission for Refugees takes care of all non-Palestinian refugees) and the largest UN organization (in terms of staff).
UNRWA seemingly defines its wards with great specificity: “Palestine refugees are people whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict.” The ranks of these refugees (who initially included some Jews) have, of course, much diminished over the past 64 years. Accepting UNRWA’s (exaggerated) number of 750,000 original Palestine refugees, only a fraction of that number, about 150,000 persons, remain alive.
UNRWA’s staff has taken three major steps over the years to expand the definition of Palestine refugees. First, and contrary to universal practice, it continued the refugee status of those who became citizens of an Arab state (Jordan in particular). Second, it made a little-noticed decision in 1965 that extended the definition of “Palestine refugee” to the descendants of those refugees who are male, a shift that permits Palestine refugees uniquely to pass their refugee status on to subsequent generations. The U.S. government, the agency’s largest donor, only mildly protested this momentous change. The UN General Assembly endorsed dit in 1982, so that now the definition of a Palestine refugee officially includes “descendants of Palestine refugee males, including legally adopted children.” Third, UNRWA in 1967 added refugees from the Six-Day War to its rolls; today they constitute about a fifth of the Palestine refugee total.
These changes had dramatic results. In contrast to all other refugee populations, which diminish in number as people settle down or die, the Palestine refugee population has grown over time. UNRWA acknowledges this bizarre phenomenon: “When the Agency started working in 1950, it was responding to the needs of about 750,000 Palestine refugees. Today, 5 million Palestine refugees are eligible for UNRWA services.” Further, according to James G. Lindsay, a former UNRWA general counsel, under UNRWA’s definition, that 5 million figure represents only half of those potentially eligible for Palestine refugee status.
In other words, rather than diminish 5-fold over six decades, UNRWA has the population of refugees increase almost 7-fold. That number could grow faster yet due to the growing sentiment that female refugees should also pass on their refugee status. Even when, in about 40 years, the last actual refugee from mandatory Palestine dies, pseudo-refugees will continue to proliferate. Thus is the “Palestine refugee” status set to swell indefinitely. Put differently, as Steven J. Rosen of the Middle East Forum notes, “given UNRWA’s standards, eventually all humans will be Palestine refugees.”
Were the Palestine refugee status a healthy one, this infinite expansion would hardly matter. But the status has destructive implications for two parties: Israel, which suffers from the depredations of a category of persons whose lives are truncated and distorted by an impossible dream of return to their great-grandparents’ houses; and the “refugees” themselves, whose status implies a culture of dependency, grievance, rage, and futility.
A giant key (said to be the world’s largest) sits atop the entrance to the Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, reminding residents to insist on their “right of return.”
All other refugees from the World War II era (including my own parents) have been long settled; the Palestine refugee status has already endured too long and needs to be narrowed down to actual refugees before it does further damage.
Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. This article is based on a recent MEF seminar in Jerusalem on UNRWA.© 2012 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.
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