The Palestinian Authority, run by PLO Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas, is again making efforts to popularize Muslim denial of the Jewish connection to Jerusalem, especially to the site of the two Jewish Temples. The PA claims fly in the face of the archaeological evidence, as well as the history of Jerusalem as endorsed by the most authoritative Muslim sources.
According to Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook of the Palestinian Media Watch organization, Fatah-controlled television broadcasts have been promoting a music video that "denies any historical connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem." Building on the denial of Jewish rights in Jerusalem and the claim that the Temple Mount is "ours," meaning it is Muslim, PMW explains, that "the lyrics repeat the Palestinian fabrication that Israel is planning to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and therefore it needs protection."
As translated by PMW, the video clip that appeared on PA TV on September 23, 2008, includes the lyrics, "Oh [Sons of] Zion, no matter how much you dig and no matter how much you destroy, your imaginary Temple will not come into being, Al-Aqsa is ours. Al-Aqsa is ours, Oh Muslims, Al-Aqsa is ours." It goes on to call for another Saladin, the Muslim conqueror of Jerusalem in 1187, according to PMW.
Marcus and Crook explain that the clip has appeared on both Fatah and Hamas TV "intermittently during the last 18 months, and it constitutes part of a prolonged hate campaign against Israel. The campaign denies the historical fact of the connection between the Jewish people, Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, while infusing hatred and fear by pretending that Islam's holy site, as well as its adherents, are in great danger."
Jerusalem Muslim Council: Temples in Jerusalem 'Beyond Dispute'
In complete opposition to the claims promoted by the PA today, as reported by Israel National News earlier this year, a tourist guide published by the Supreme Muslim Council (the Waqf) of Jerusalem in 1925 declares of the Temple Mount, "Its identity with the site of Solomon's Temple is beyond dispute. This, too, is the spot, according to universal belief, on which 'David built there an altar unto the L-rd....' "
In addition, on page 16 the pamphlet makes reference to the underground area in the south-east corner of the Mount, which it refers to as Solomon's Stables. "Little is known for certain of the history of the chamber itself," the guide reads. "It dates probably as far back as the construction of Solomon's Temple. According to Josephus, it was in existence and was 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."
Islam's Founder Muhammad: The Temple is in Jerusalem
Throughout the religious, behavioral and doctrinal codebooks Muslims believe were transmitted from Muhammad or his immediate associates, known as Hadith, Jerusalem is primarily called Bayt al-Makdis in Arabic. The term is an Arabic translation of the Hebrew Bait HaMikdash, which means "the Temple" in English.
Jerusalem, however, is not mentioned by name in the primary Islamic scripture, the Koran. However, Muslim apologists often point to a description in the Koran of a mystical journey Muhammad made to "the furthest mosque," which they claim is al-Aqsa mosque currently located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
However, the Hadith that provide more details of the mystical journey also refer to Jerusalem as the location of the Jewish Temple. As the Hadith collection Sahih Muslim states: "[The] Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: I was brought al-Buraq who is an animal white and long, larger than a donkey but smaller than a mule, who would place his hoof a distance equal to the range of vision. I mounted it and came to the Temple (Bait al-Maqdis in Jerusalem), then tethered it to the ring used by the prophets." To this day, the Muslims refer to the Western Wall as "Al-Buraq Wall".
Archaeological Evidence: The Temples Were in Jerusalem
Archaeological finds in recent years in and around Jerusalem have been providing physical evidence for the history as presented by the earliest Jewish, Christian and Muslim sources. Some examples follow:
* In 2005, following painstaking archaeological work carried out in a dump from an illegal Wakf construction project on the Temple Mount, researchers discovered: a coin from the period of the First Revolt against the Romans, which preceded the destruction of the Second Temple, bearing the phrase "For the Redemption of Zion"; an inscription chiseled on a jar fragment of the First Temple period, with the ancient Hebrew letters heh, ayin and kof; A seal with five-pointed star with ancient Hebrew letters spelling "Jerusalem" spaced between the points; a Hasmonean coin bearing inscription "Yehonathan High Priest, friend of the Jews"; a coin of Alexander Jannaeus; a Scytho-Iranian arrowhead, of the type used by the Babylonian army of Nebuchadnezzar that destroyed the First Temple in 586 BCE; and more.
* In 2005, a Hebrew University archaeologist uncovered a clay seal dated from about 580 BCE bearing the name Yehuchal Ben-Sheleimiya, who is identified as a royal envoy and court minister sent by King Zedekiah to the prophet Jeremiah (in chapters 37 and 38 of the Bible's Book of Jeremiah).
Several years earlier, another circa-580 BCE royal seal was found at the same site. It had the name of Gemaryahu, son of Shafan, who is also mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah as a top official in the court of King Zedekiah's predecessor, King Yehoyachim. Another seal found among dozens of others bears the name of Azaryahu Ben-Hilkiyahu, a member of a priestly family, who served in the Temple before Jerusalem's destruction, according to I Chronicles, 9:10.
* In May 2007 archaeologists revealed a number of seals and signet rings from the time of the Biblical Kings David and Solomon, unearthed in the City of David, below Jerusalem's Old City.
* In July 2007 an expert in ancient Babylon discovered a small clay tablet that records a donation of gold by "the chief eunuch of King Nebuchadnezzar," a man named Nabu-sharrussu-ukin. In Jeremiah 39, the researcher noted, the man's name is listed as one of Nebuchadnezzar's top ministers, who took part in the destruction of the First Holy Temple 2,500 years ago.
* In January 2008 archaeologists discovered a stone seal that includes the name of a family, Temech, whose members were servants during the First Temple, were exiled to Babylonia and then returned to Jerusalem. The seal was found near the Dung Gate walls of the Old City. The Book of Nehemiah (Chapter 7) refers to the Temech family by name.
* In March 2008 a coin from the Second Temple used during the turbulent Second Temple period to pay the Biblical half-shekel head-tax was found in excavations in the City of David.
* In August of 2008 archaeologists unearthed a completely intact seal impression bearing the name of another minister to King Zedekiah, Gedaliahu son of Pashur, a few meters away from the site where a the seal of Yehuchal Ben-Sheleimiya was found three years earlier.