Mahmoud Abbas, in his notorious speech at the UN on May 15, 2023, among other abhorrent remarks, absurdly denied there was any proof of a Jewish link to the Temple Mount. His risible rhetoric ignores the overwhelming archeological, documentary and historical evidence that the Jewish Holy Temple stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Unfortunately, he is not the first to invoke this canard. His predecessor, Yasser Arafat brazenly denied the Jewish Temple was located on the Temple Mount, in 2000 at Camp David, and was remonstrated by President Clinton at the time. Astoundingly, even the New York Times weighed in on the subject, in 2015, in an effort to create uncertainty and was rightly chided by Dr. Jodi Magness, one of the expert archeologists interviewed for the article. In a scathing Letter to the Editor, dated October 12, 2015, Dr Magness concluded with the statement: “ I know of no credible scholars who question the existence of the two temples or deny that they stood somewhere on the Temple Mount.”
The Quran references the existence of the Jewish Holy Temple and Islamic documentary and historical sources attest to it being on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. This includes the Nuba Inscription (from the 9th or 10th century), found in a mosque south of Jerusalem, near Hebron. It references the Rock of the Bayt al- Maqdis (Beit HaMikdash in Hebrew), referring to the Foundation Stone and site of the Holy Temple.
In addition to Scriptural references in the Old and New Testaments and Jewish documentary sources (such as the Mishna and Midrash, as well as 1rst century historian Josephus), there are many non-Jewish historical writings and documentary sources describing the Jewish Holy Temple in Jerusalem, including as follows:
- 4th century B.C.E., Menander, a Greek historian.
- 4th century, B.C. E., Hecataeus of Abdera, a Greek historian.
- 3rd century B.C.E., Berossus, of Babylon.
- 3rd-2nd century B.C.E, Aristeas, a Greek official in the court of Ptolemy II, in Egypt.
- 1rst century B.C.E., Cicero, a Roman statesman.
- 1rst century B.C.E., Edict of Augustus.
- 1rst century, Strabo, a Greek geographer.
- 1rst century Tacitus, a Roman historian.
- 1rst century, Arch of Titus.
- 1rst century, Plutarch, a Greek Historian.
- 2nd century, Cassius Dio, a Roman Historian.
- 3rd century Eusebius, a Greek Christian Historian and Bishop of Caesarea.
- More than a dozen Islamic Hadiths.
- 9th century Muhammad ibn Jair Al-Tabari.
- 10th century geographer and Jerusalem resident, Muhammad ibn Ahmad Shams al-Din al-Muqaddasi.
- 11th century Abu Bakr Muhammad Ahmad al-Wasiti.
- 12th century geographer Muhamad al-Idrisi.
- 12th century geographer Yaqut al Hamawi.
- 13th century theologian, Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah.
- 14th century historian, Abd al Rahman ibn Khaldun.
- 15th century historian Mujir al-Din.
- 15th century Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti.
Interestingly, 13th century Ahmad ibn Taymiyya, noted above, declared with respect to the site of Dome of the Rock:
‘Men of Knowledge who were companions or followers of the Prophet chose the best path and did not exalt the Rock, because it is a quibla mansukha, like the Sabbath…so too, the Rock is exalted only by Jews and some Christians.’
It is astonishing that the words of this noted Sunni scholar and inspirational source of the Salafi and other radical Islamic movements, including, for example, Hamas, are simply and callously ignored in favor of the dictates of political ideology. The specious claim that the entire Temple Mount is exclusively a Muslim holy site to the exclusion of all other religions and the spurious denial that the Jewish Temple ever stood there is yet another example of Jew-hatred by the PA and Hamas.
There is also a substantial and growing body of compelling archeological evidence of the presence of the Jewish Holy Temples on the Temple Mount that is undeniable, including the following:
- 8th Century B.C.E. Hezekiah stone tablet inscription.
- 8th Century B.C.E. Isaiah Seal.
- 8th Century B.C.E. King Hezekiah Seal.
- Temple Warning Inscriptions.
- Beit HaTekia Inscription referencing the place of blowing (of the trumpets) to announce the Sabbath, Holidays and certain sacrificial and other rituals.
- The lower course of the Eastern Wall of the Temple Mount, north and south of the Golden Gates, from the First Temple period.
- High Priest’s (Kohen Gadol’s) golden bell, dated from the Second Temple period.
- The Herodian Stones, comprising the retaining wall of the Temple Mount, including the extensive portions below the present grade level, which can be seen in the Museum of the Western Wall, adjacent to the Western Wall. Similarly, the Herodian architecture and art, including in the entry halls of the Double Gate, under the Al-Aqsa Mosque structure, which was a part of the two sets of southern gates, known as the Hulda Gates.
- A water cistern at the southeast corner of the Temple Mount platform, near Robinson’s Arch, dated back to the First Temple Period.
- Seals and pottery shards, dating back to the time of King Solomon (10th-9th centuries B.C.E.) and First Temple period generally, including seals inscribed with Immer family name, a well known priestly family dating back to the First Temple period.
- Silver half shekel coins from the Second Temple period.
- Wooden beams dating back to the First and Second Temple periods.
- Second Temple era Mikvahs (Ritual Baths). .
- Remains of a defensive wall, dating back approximately 3,000 years ago, to King Solomon’s reign.
- Pilgrimage Road, built by King Herod to ascend from the Pool of Siloam (where would ritually purify themselves on route, to the Second Temple on the Temple Mount).
Ninth-century Muslim historian Al-Tabari provides an intimate and detailed account of Omar’s decision not to place a mosque on the site of the Jewish Temple and, instead, to locate the Al-Aqsa Mosque outside of the Temple precincts, on the southern extension of the platform Herod constructed on the Temple Mount:
He describes how when Omar came from al-Jabiya to Aelia (Jerusalem), he asked for Ka’ab to be brought to him. Ka’ab was a 7th century Yemenite Jew who had converted to Islam. Ka’ab, together with a number of Jews, were a part of Omar’s retinue and they acted as his guides to show him the place where the Second Temple had been located. Omar then asked Ka’ab where he thought Omar should establish a place of prayer. Ka’ab answered at the Rock, known as the Even Shetiyah (the Foundation Stone). Omar remarked Ka’ab was still following Judaism and that he noticed Ka’ab had removed his shoes when they entered the area of the Temple Mount. Omar said he would not establish a Mosque at the Rock; but instead would do so outside of this area, facing towards Mecca and the Ka’aba. It appears Omar did, because 7th century Frankish Bishop Arcluf I, in his account of his visit to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount in 680, describes an oblong house of worship (precursor to the Al-Aqsa Mosque) located at the southern end of Herod’s platform (where the present Al-Aqsa Mosque is situated).
Muthir al-Ghiram, the fourteenth-century Arab historian of Islamic traditions, also provides a similar account of that of Al-Tabari. Both resoundingly report Omar’s intent and decision not to locate a Mosque on the Foundation Stone. These accounts emphasize Omar’s intention to separate the Muslim prayer site and rituals from those holy to the Jews. Thus, Mohammed had fixed the Quibla (direction of prayer) towards Mecca and the Ka’aba, as recorded in the Quran, and definitively ended the prior custom of praying in the Jewish prayer direction towards Jerusalem and, by extension, the Foundation Stone.
Thus. those praying in the Al-Aqsa Mosque face towards Mecca and have their backs to the Foundation Stone (covered by the monument known as the Dome of the Rock) and site of the Jewish Holy Temple. Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Ahmad al Wasiti, an 11th century preacher in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, also reports that the Dome of the Rock was not used as a Mosque.
Muslim scholars like 8th century Abd al-Rahman and 13th-14th century Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya refuted any holiness, in Islamic tradition, attributable to the Temple Mount for Muslims. Al-Jawziyya also denied absolutely the holiness in Islamic tradition of the Sakhrah (Foundation Stone), noting all traditions to the contrary are lies and inventions. The Foundation Stone is merely the Quibla (direction of prayer) of the Jews and it is holy to them like Shabbat (i.e., as opposed to Friday for Muslims).
The Waqf’s own ‘A Brief Guide to Al-Haram Al-Sharif Jerusalem’ (see illustration for this article) published in English in 1925, demolishes the absurd Temple denial narrative being promoted by Abbas and his cohorts. It explicitly and in no uncertain terms states with reference to the Temple Mount:
"Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute"
The Guide goes on to describe the profound Jewish link to the Temple Mount:
“This, too, is the spot, according to the universal belief, on which “David built there an Altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings”.
The Guide also notes that in 627 Caliph Omar first occupied Jerusalem; a striking rebuke to those who falsely assert Arab Muslims were indigenous to Jerusalem. The Guide recognizes that Jews and their Holy Temple were there first, more than 1,500 years prior to the beginning of the Arab occupation of Jerusalem.
The Guide refers to the remains of Herodian walls (like the Western Wall) and makes no mention of the so-called wall of Buraq. Furthermore, lest there be any doubt about the Dome of the Rock not being a mosque, the Guide references the mischaracterization of the Dome of the Rock as the Mosque of Omar and puts the matter to rest by labeling this notion quite wrong.
The Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount is indisputable, as admitted even in the Waqf’s own Guide.
Criticizing Abbas’ speech is not enough. His blatant antisemitic rhetoric on the world stage at the UN and continuation of Pay to Slay, rewarding murderous terrorism against American and Israeli citizens, is immoral and inexcusable. It’s time for the US to hold him and his cohorts accountable and end funding of the PA, as required under the Taylor Force Act.
Leonard Grunstein, retired attorney and banker, founded and served as Chairman of Metropolitan National Bank and then Israel Discount Bank of NY. He founded Project Ezrah and serves on the Board of Bernard Revel Graduate School at Yeshiva Univ. and the AIPAC National Council. He has published articles in the Banking Law Journal, Real Estate Finance Journal and more.