|If these Jews are caught praying at this Jerusalem site, they will be arrested|
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that Israel and Jordan have agreed on steps aimed at reducing tensions at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, after meeting with King Abdullah II and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Amman.
Kerry said the steps include round-the-clock video monitoring and Israel's reaffirming of Jordan's special and historic role as custodian of the site. Israel has pledged to maintain the rules of worship at the site.
Secrets under the Al-Aqsa Mosque: A Photographic Essay
- Lenny Ben-David
The current Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammed Ahmad Hussein, declared on Oct. 25 that ...there never was a Jewish Temple or shrine atop the Temple Mount.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque suffered a major collapse during an earthquake in 1927. During the years of renovation, photographers ventured into and under the mosque, documenting the mosaics, passageways, cisterns, and lumber that apparently were part of the ancient Jewish Temples.
The writer, who publishes Israel Daily Picture.com, served as Israel's Deputy Chief of Mission in Washington.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Were There Jewish Temples on the Temple Mount? Yes
- Ruth Schuster and Ran Shapira
The contention that there is no proof the Jewish Temples existed on the Temple Mount is an artifact of the recent Israeli-Arab conflict.
Jewish, Christian and Muslim tradition has always held the Mount sacred and none queried the existence of the Temples. A Brief Guide to al-Haram al-Sharif, published in English by the Supreme Muslim Council itself in 1925, states: "The site is one of the oldest in the world. Its sanctity dates from the earliest times. Its identity with the site of Solomon's Temple is beyond dispute." "There is no scholarly school of thought that doubts the existence of the First Temple," Prof. Israel Finkelstein, a world-renowned expert on Jerusalem archaeology, told Ha'aretz.
Archaeologist Gabriel Barkay noted: "Two copies of inscriptions prohibiting the entry of nonbelievers to the Temple have been found on the Temple Mount, which Josephus wrote about. These inscriptions were on the dividing wall that surrounded the Second Temple, which prevented non-Jews from accessing the interior of the courtyard." The "warning" stone is at the Istanbul Archaeological Museum.
Another inscription in stone, "To the trumpeting place," was found in 1968 at the southwest corner of the Temple Mount. "It is known that trumpets were blown at the corners of the Temple Mount, to declare the advent of Shabbat and other dates," Barkay explains. The stone is now at the Israel Museum.
We don't need to rely exclusively on digging in Jerusalem for solid evidence that the Mount housed the Second Temple. Roman Emperor Titus boasted of crushing the Jewish rebellion in 70 CE and destroying the Temple in Jerusalem. "The Arch of Titus in Rome shows the procession following the gleeful plunder of the Temple by the Romans, even showing the menorah they removed," says archaeology writer Julia Fridman.
Israeli Relinquishment of the Temple Mount
The most relevant factual basis for disproving the “Al-Aksa is in danger” libel is, as noted, the de facto Israeli relinquishment of the Temple Mount, for which I could find no precedent in any other country or religion. The birthfather of this relinquishment, which for years has been called “the status quo on the Temple Mount,” was Moshe Dayan, who served as Israeli defense minister during the Six-Day War. The thrilling liberation of the Western Wall and the Temple Mount was documented in detail in dozens of publications that appeared after the war. Even the cry of paratroop commander Mordechai Gur into his field radio – “The Temple Mount is in our hands!” – entered the pantheon of national symbols of the State of Israel. And yet, the reality that Israel devised on the Temple Mount, and the heavy limitations it imposed on itself there, were very far from the euphoria of the liberation itself and the overwhelming encounter with the place where the two Temples of the Jewish people had stood in the past, long the focal point of its spiritual life.
Dayan’s first act on the Temple Mount, only a few hours after IDF Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren blew the shofar and gave the Shehecheyanu blessing beside the Western Wall, was to immediately remove the Israeli flag that the paratroopers had raised on the mount.
Dayan’s second act was to clear out the paratroop company that was supposed to remain permanently stationed in the northern part of the mount. Dayan rejected the insistent pleas of the head of Central Command, Uzi Narkiss, who tried to prevent him from taking this measure. Narkiss reminded Dayan that Jordan, too, had stationed a military contingent on the mount...
But Dayan was not persuaded. He told Narkiss that it seemed to him the place would have to be left in the hands of the Muslim guards.
Moshe Dayan’s most significant act on the Temple Mount, which was widely criticized, was to forbid Jewish prayer there, unlike the arrangements at the Machpelah Cave in Hebron where there is also a functioning mosque.
In giving religious sovereignty over the mount to the Muslims, he believed he was defusing the site as a center of Palestinian nationalism.
[F]or many years the police have not allowed free entry by Jews to the Temple Mount, even for mere visits. The police restrict the number of Jews, particularly religious Jews, who can enter. Only a few dozen religious Jews are allowed to be there at once, and they are shadowed by Wakf guards and policemen who keep an eye on them, check their belongings to make sure they have not “smuggled” onto the mount a tallit (prayer shawl), tefillin (phylacteries), or prayer book, while warily ascertaining that their lips are not moving in prayer. Only after such a contingent of religious Jews has left is another group of a few dozen allowed to enter. The hours of entry for Jews to the mount are also restricted and meager, and in times of riots and tensions the site is closed to them altogether.
The fact that the official and actual policy of the State of Israel, as embodied in decisions of the Chief Rabbinical Council, the government, and the Supreme Court, leaves the management of the Temple Mount in the hands of the Muslim Wakf is not recognized in the Muslim world today.
[T]he claim that the state and its institutions have formulated a plot to destroy the Temple Mount mosques, and establish the Third Temple in their stead, is absurd and invalid. The State of Israel has indeed adhered to the Jewish heritage, honors Jewish history, and sees itself as committed to its ancient roots, a context in which the Temple Mount and the Temple are central. Regarding the mount, however, this involves an ideological and spiritual heritage, not a practical one; a profound bond and commitment, but only on the level of consciousness. At the same time, the State of Israel does just about everything, in both its statements and its actions, to make clear that it has no intentions of building the Third Temple or destroying the Temple Mount mosques. All this has in no way prevented the many-faceted “Al-Aksa is in danger” libel from developing and taking hold of the imaginations and hearts of tens of millions of Muslims.
[Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs]