Muslim Temple denial continues
The Muslim world, meanwhile, continues to deny the very existence of the two Jewish Temples, and to do all it can to destroy the vast amounts of evidence of their existence.
The story of Hanukah is the archetypal story of the fight for religious freedom. It has been adopted and celebrated by American presidents at the White House for more than a decade, as an American tribute to the biblical roots of the country’s national dedication to freedom. For 2,000 years religious Jews, Christians and Muslims, and later secular scholars, have all believed that the temple ruins lie beneath the two Muslim mosques that were later built upon the Temple Mount by conquering Arabs after the death of Muhammad — and that the surviving pre-Islamic “Wailing Wall” is the outer wall of the Temple courtyard that existed in Roman times during the ministry of Jesus.
However, 13 years ago, the late Yasser Arafat (and since then his political heirs have taken up the cause) abruptly decided that there is no evidence that there ever was a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and, therefore, that Jews — and ipso facto Israelis — have no right to claim Jerusalem as their religious, historical and political capital. A wave of Temple denial is now sweeping the Arab and Islamic world and many fellow intellectual travellers in the journalistic and archaeological world are joining the bandwagon.
The historical, archaeological and literary evidence for the existence of the sacred Jewish temple underneath and beside the two Mosques that now bestride the Temple Mount is overwhelming. It includes thousands of scholarly articles and books supported by scores of archaeological digs and studies of historical documents. The best introduction to the topic is Cambridge Professor Simon Goldhill’s most readable book, The Temple of Jerusalem.
For over a decade the Muslim authorities (the Waqf) who now control the Temple Mount have been despoiling its archaeology through illegal excavations and site destruction. Nevertheless, the physical evidence that they have discarded, and which Israeli archaeologists pore over like forensic scientists at a crime scene, shows signs of the temple’s existence, the most recent being coins minted by the Hasmonean rulers of Judea who were the royal and priestly heirs of the Maccabees, as well as coins minted during the first Jewish revolt against the Romans in 70 AD. It was these pagan conquerors who burnt the temple and brought its sacred treasure back to Rome, and whose golden menorah was beautifully reproduced on the Arch of Titus. A three-dimensional copy of this menorah now stands in front of the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, walking distance from where the original once stood, 2,000 years earlier.
As the Bible is rarely taught in our schools and universities, and as it has, at the same time, become popular to argue that only the winners write history (that it is to say there are no historical facts), let us see how some of the biggest winners in Middle Eastern history have written about the Temple in Jerusalem. I mean the religious and secular scholars of the conquering Muslims who made the land of Israel part of their Islamic empire until the Turks lost it to the British during the First World War.Read the whole thing.