PLO Urges Journalists: Don't Say 'Temple Mount'

Mahmoud Abbas's faction says journalists should only use 'Al Aqsa Mosque Compound' in blatant attempt to erase Jewish history.

Ari Soffer ,

The Temple Mount is Judaism's holiest site
The Temple Mount is Judaism's holiest site
Flash 90

PA chief Mahmoud Abbas's Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has issued special instructions to members of the international media, urging them to stop using the term "Temple Mount," and to instead refer to the holy site as "the Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound" or "Haram al-Sharif/Noble Sanctuary."

In a blatant attempt to impose a discourse erasing any reference to the Jewish character of the site, the PLO "media advisory" claims that the "Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound, sometimes referred to as the Noble Sanctuary (“Haram al-Sharif” in Arabic), is the compound that contains Al Aqsa building itself, ablution fountains, open spaces for prayer, monuments and the Dome of the Rock building. This entire area enclosed by the walls which spans 144 dunums [sic] (almost 36 acres), forms the Mosque."

It adds (inaccurately) that the area "has been under exclusive Muslim control since the construction of the Dome of the Rock in 692 CE," stating further that it is "sacred to approximately 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, and a symbol for all Palestinians" - but notably ignores the fact that it is also the holiest site in Judaism.

Claiming that since Israel's presence in "East-Jerusalem" is "illegal," it concludes that "All international media representatives are advised to adhere to international law and correct any other existing terminology used. The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is not a disputed territory and all other terms, therefore, are null and void."

It is unclear how much of an impact the "advisory" will have on the media's reportage of issues surrounding the Temple Mount. It is notable, however, that the latest AFP report on tensions around the site only refers to it as "The Al Aqsa Mosque compound."

The Temple Mount is in fact the site of two Jewish Temples - the latter of which was destroyed in 70 CE. It is the holiest site in Judaism, and according to some Jewish traditions is the spot where the creation of the world began. The Dome of the Rock was built on top of the ruins of the Jewish Temples by Muslim Ummayad Caliph Abd al-Malek hundreds of years later, following the Islamic conquest of the Middle East.

Despite its importance to them Jews are forbidden from praying at the site. Israeli authorities - fearful of Muslim violence and Jordanian threats to abrogate its peace treaty - heavily regulate Jewish visits to the Temple Mount, in what activists have branded a discriminatory practice which contradicts several High Court rulings calling for the implementation of equal prayer rights there.

The PLO communique comes at a time of heightened tensions around the holy site. Muslim rioters have been attacking Israeli police and Jewish visitors with increasing frequency, culminating in the recent attempted murder of prominent Jewish activist Rabbi Yehuda Glick.

Jordan recently announced it would be recalling its ambassador to Israel after Israeli police entered the mosque itself in response to Muslim rioters barricading themselves inside.

The Waqf Islamic trust which administers the site is run by the Jordanian government and, has long been accused of actively working to erase any Jewish connection to the site.

Countless ancient Jewish artifacts have been destroyed in the course of illegal excavations by the Waqf which, along with the Palestinian Authority and Islamist groups, ardently denies that the site has any importance to Judaism.

Responding to the media advisory, Rabbi Chaim Richman of the Temple Institute called it "another outrageous example of the relatively recent phenomena that can best be described as Muslim 'Temple Denial Syndrome.'"

Rabbi Richman noted that such attempts to deny the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount directly contradict earlier documentation published by Muslim authorities as well.

"In the pre-State of Israel publication, published by the Supreme Muslim Council (the Wakf) entitled 'A Brief Guide to Al-Haram Al-Sharif, we find the following statements on page 4: '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. 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 (II Sam. 24:25)."

"Every subsequent edition of this guide book that was published before 1948 features this paragraph. However, the text is totally expunged in every edition of the booklet published after 1948, and instead we read 'it has been identified with Islam from the beginning.'

"The PLO's newest 'media advisory' is a newer spin, and only the newest demonstration of classic Islamic revisionist history. History does not begin with Islam, and Jewish history predates Islam by thousands of years."