Friday, October 09, 2015

NYTimes "Dig" Contra the Temple Mount

In this article, the NYTimes takes on the Jewish Temples and the Temple Mount.  Entitled "Historical Certainty Proves Elusive at Jerusalem’s Holiest Place", Rick Gladstone poses a question 

"which many books and scholarly treatises have never definitively answered...whether the 37-acre site, home to Islam’s sacred Dome of the Rock shrine and Al Aqsa Mosque, was also the precise location of two ancient Jewish temples, one built on the remains of the other, and both long since gone."

His theme is 

Many historians have said independent scientific verification of such a reference is problematic


The sources for the first temple are solely biblical, and no substantial archaeological remains have been verified

Gladstone, Reporter and Editor on the paper's Foreign Desk  recently reported on migrants to Greece and Binyamin Netanyahu at the UN but doesn't seem to have any specific acquaintance with archaeology.

Matthew J. Adams, Dorot director of the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem appears and is quoted saying, "We just don’t have enough primary source data, textual or archaeological, to say where it was with any confidence...“It’s also an academically complex question.”. Rivka Gonen's boomk is noted.  Wendy Pullan is quoted saying "The sources for the first temple are solely biblical, and no substantial archaeological remains have been verified". Jane Cahill, who was a senior staff archaeologist for Hebrew University’s City of David Archaeological Project, says “nobody knows exactly” where the temples once stood, although “pretty powerful circumstantial evidence” suggests they were on the site.  Kent Bramlett of La Sierra University in Riverside, Calif. offers that historical records of the Roman committed destruction are “pretty overwhelming” in supporting the existence of the second temple in the immediate vicinity of the Dome of the Rock.

Unnamed archaeologists 

agree that the religious body of evidence, corroborated by other historical accounts and artifacts that have been recovered from the site or nearby, supports the narrative that the Dome of the Rock was built on or close to the place where the Jewish temples once stood.

Of course, the main problem* is excavations and the article informs us that the

Waqf has never permitted invasive archaeological work that could possibly yield proof of either temple.

and that

Because there have been no organized excavations there, and not likely to be, circumstantial evidence is probably all we’re going to have

Gaby Barkay and Tzachi Dvira are missing.  Eilat Mazar is missing.  Dan Bahat, too.  Even a Google search could have enriched the piece.  It is not clear if he consulted with anyone at the Rockefeller Museum or reviewed the works of Robert Hamilton and his 1949 "The structural history of the Aqsa Mosque: a record of archaeological gleanings from the repairs of 1938-1942" or Jon Seligman's article in this collection.  And so many more academic articles that would provide a more balanced picture. And where is the purposeful destruction of Jewish artifacts by the Waqf?

Another dig at Jewish history and Zionism.

(note: I have added some material after a first posting)


*   A note I received:  NYT Article conflates Islamic holiness of Aqsa mosque with Dome of the rock. Of course there's no mention of the doubt that Mohammed or his horse ever visited Jerusalem.


From Martin Kramer:

In fact, Muslims originally regarded the site as holy precisely because the temples once stood there. To claim otherwise is extremist incitement, of which there’s already plenty to go around.


Thursday, October 08, 2015

Contra The Coalition of Nay-Sayers

The entrance into the current Temple Mount compound (not to be confused with the original halachic boundaries of a 500 cubit square that was sanctified) is, admittedly, a religious problem.  But over the years, and recently, more pronouncedly, the more rigid haredi sector (but not exclusively; there is Rabbi Aviner)  opposed to entrance adds a theological-political element: the act simply upsets the Muslims so much that it is a cause for them to murder Jews, making those who promote entrance therein guilty of shared responsibility for deaths of Jews.

For example, Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch, a senior Edah Hareidit rabbi, declared this week that the tragedies hang on those who ascend:

הבוקר (הושענא רבא) אחרי התפילה אמר הראב"ד למקורביו כי "הפיגועים הם בעוון עליית יהודים להר הבית".
the terror attacks result from the sin of Jews ascending to the Temple Mount.

Three months ago, the ultra-Orthodox Yated Ne’eman newspaper published a scathing editorial that combined halachic arguments with diplomatic considerations as grounds for opposing such visits. The editorial called Jews who insist on visiting the site “wild weeds,” and said, “They make it a point to throw a match into an oil well that could bury the Middle East in smoking ashes.” Surprisingly, the newspaper’s editorial...reflects claims of the Israeli left, which argues that going up to the site is an act of political provocation...

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich, chief rabbi of the Western Wall and the Holy Sites, also takes an unequivocal position opposing visits to the Temple Mount.

Already in 2008, we read of Haredi Rabbis demanding the renewal of the ban on Jews entering the Temple Mount.  A year ago, Yated Ne’eman, called for the government to close the site to Jewish visitors, labeling Jewish visitation to the spot as provocative and contrary to Jewish law.

“They are laying out a red carpet for terrorists which will only become redder with blood as the tensions are intensified. These [people] will not be satisfied

One response to this rabbinical attitude has been that there is a status quo that prohibits prayer and not to be present within, even as 'tourists', not only would be a fatal error (but then again, there are several who are happy the Arabs control the compound and so prevent Jews from entering and are not at all interested in the issue of political sovereignty) but would endanger Jews down below at the Western Wall.  They would be struck by rocks coming down from above and soon enough, pressure will increase on Jewish residency within the Old City walls.

My thinking is that the only way we can counter Arab delegitimization and denial of Jewish history is to be there.  Take this attitude:

Arab-Israeli MK: Jews Have No Connection to Temple Mount

...In an interview Friday in a Hebrew-language publication, Joint Arab List MK Hanin Zoabi said, “The name is al-Aqsa, not the Temple Mount, and there is nothing there for Jews...the Temple Mount, which is adjacent to the Western Wall, is “a place for Muslims only, according to all the agreements signed after the occupation of Jerusalem, and the agreements between Jordan and Israel.

...When a reporter asked if she acknowledges that Judaism’s first and second temples once stood on the site, Zoabi said the temple “is not part of the political reality in which we live.”  She added that “the existence of the temple is not verified scientifically.”

Abbas' UN speech last month was noted by Jonathan Halevy

On Sept. 30, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas gave a speech to the UN General Assembly in which he outlined the unilateral steps he intends to take to achieve Palestinian sovereignty in the territories and east Jerusalem without reaching a peace agreement with Israel.
Abbas’ speech revealed his basic stance, which includes unequivocal support for terror, a racist attitude toward the Jewish people, an entrenched hatred for Israel, and a will to destroy it.
"Palestine is the land of holiness and peace, the birthplace of Jesus the emissary of love and the place of Muhammad’s ascent to heaven," Abbas said. He pointedly refrained from mentioning that the land is also holy to the Jewish people whose history has been entwined with it for millennia.

My conclusion is that a Jewish presence, not of soldiers or policemen, be a constant, accepted and recognized reality at the Temple Mount.  If the halacha recognized exceptions to the rule of ritual purity, for example,

There was a place in the upper storey [of the Temple]which was...entered only once in seven years, to [inspect it] and find out what is necessary for its repair...It is a mitzvah for [those who enter] to be ritually pure. If no [capable craftsman] who are ritually pure can be found, impure [craftsmen] may enter...All those who enter to repair the Temple should be lowered down inside crates [from the upper floor]. If no crates are available or if it is impossible [to make arrangements for them to enter] using crates, they may enter through the [usual] entrances.

then our current dilemma can also be similarly treated. 


Saturday, October 03, 2015

New Category: Guilt by proximity

As in guilt by proximity walking:

The latest attack took place just after the end of the Jewish Sabbath close to Lion's Gate in the Old City. The victims are said to have been passing near the entrance of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, en-route to the Western Wall.


Friday, October 02, 2015

But 'Temple' Is Mentioned in the Quran


is taken from this Quranic verse, Surah 17:7:

[And said], "If you do good, you do good for yourselves; and if you do evil, [you do it] to yourselves." Then when the final promise came, [We sent your enemies] to sadden your faces and to enter the temple in Jerusalem, as they entered it the first time, and to destroy what they had taken over with [total] destruction.

Do you think it would look good on a T-shirt to be worn by Jews visiting the Temple Mount?



Bayt al-Muqaddas, (and also referred to as Masjid al-Aqsa, (“The Farthest Mosque”)), it refers to a sanctuary in Jerusalem covering several acres, including the two buildings - the Dome of the Rock and Masjid `Umar - within its enclave.
Muqaddas = Mikdash


Thursday, October 01, 2015

They Don't Want to Divide

This social media account has announced an Islamist rally on the Temple Mount tomorrow against the idea that in order to reach a semblance of fairness, toleration and religious understanding it would be a good idea to divide the Mount at certain times so that Jews could properly respect their holy site, what is termed a temporal and spatial division at Al-Aqsa compound:

Notice the Dome of the Rock on the banner of the Islamic Jihad:

But since the arrangement works well at the Machpela Cave of the Patriarchs, it does have a possibility.  I even have suggested locations for a synagogue there.