Manfred and Anne Lehmann Foundation

Palestinians Destroy Remnants of the First and Second Temples

The hatred of the Arabs for anything Jewish has found a new expression. They have systematically destroyed irreplaceable remnants of the Temple on the Temple Mount.

This does not only show the total irreconcilability of Islam with Judaism, but also the danger that the Palestinians will destroy Jewish monuments of the past wherever they get "autonomy." This is a frightening prospect that all lovers of Jewish history and religion should rally to prevent as soon as possible. If the Rabin government has no sense of concern for Jewish values, the rank-and-file of Jews everywhere must take up a war cry to protect our dearest treasures of our glorious past from deliberate, Islam-guided vandalism.

The root of this revolting rape of Jewish property is in the fact that the Labor government, which was in power in 1967 when the Temple Mount was redeemed, did not take care to secure Jewish control over the Mount, our most precious site on earth. As a result the Islamic Waqf -- the Islamic religious authority -- was given control of the Temple Mount, probably in the hope that this "magnanimity" would be appreciated and reciprocated; some appreciation; some reciprocation! Instead, the Waqf has now been found to have perpetrated extensive vandalism and destruction and has wrought terrible destruction on the Mount of important archaeological remains. All this came out when a vigilant Jewish group, "The Temple Faithful," brought suit against the Waqf in Israel's Supreme Court. Watching ancient property being tragically and wantonly destroyed, the Temple Faithful first brought suit in 1986, but the decision was only handed down a few months ago. The verdict came out in favor of the Jewish claimants, the Waqf was found to have violated the Antiquities Law of 1978 and the Planning and Building Law of 1965 by building over archaeological remains and covering them with dirt and by planting olive trees, whose roots would damage any archaeological remains below. The verdict listed 35 violations involving irreversible destruction of important archaeological remains. For example, the Waqf had destroyed the remains of a wall belonging to the Temple built of huge hewn stones, which were part of the foundation of the eastern wall of the Second Temple. Other stones thought to be part of the First and Second Temples were covered with dirt, where structures were built or trees planted on top. All these remains had more sanctity than even the Kotel (the Wall).

Defying Jewish concerns with impunity, the Waqf went right ahead with further desecration and destruction of ancient Jewish remains on the Temple Mount, even while the Supreme Court considered the case. The Court found that this destruction resulted in irreversible damage to historic sites of the greatest importance to Jews and Jewish history. The total indifference of the Israeli government to these horrendous losses is shown by the fact that the Court was advised that "for political reasons" its verdict cannot be implemented and that no one wanted to force the Waqf to abide by the law because of the "sensitive religious and political nature of the case and the need to preserve public order." The case also brought out that the Israeli government never even carried out a survey of the Temple Mount, which would have yielded a scientific "inventory" of all the remains from the First and Second Temples. It would also have helped fix the exact location of the Temple, which is still being argued by scholars.

Very few have heard of the lawsuit and the favorable verdict and the cowardly and weak response from the Israeli government. Surely national religious and historical Jewish interests should have outweighed the groundless argument of the "the need for preserve public order." How about preserving Jewish pride and vital links with the Temple Mount? A terrible hole has now been torn into the fabric of the continuity of Jewish presence in Jerusalem and the anticipation of the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple. Long ago the American Biblical Archaeological Society urged the Israel antiquities authority to carry out exactly such a survey -- but the request was ignored.

The neglect of the Temple Mount and its Jewish remains by the Rabin government is nothing short of a major scandal. It throws light on the de-Judaizing process that the Shulamit Aloni-Beilin Meretz groups are aiming at. But should the rest of us, with keen and unquenched love for the Temple Mount, not raise our strongest voice and demand immediate and total control of the Mount and the use of every legal means to force the Arabs to respect Jewish archaeological sites and without delay repair and return what still can be repaired and returned?

Is such a cry is not sounded now, we can expect the wholesale destruction of historic Jewish monuments by Palestinians whenever Israel withdraws its security forces. One shudders to think what will happen to sacred Jewish monuments in places such as Hebron if they are left to Arabs, who have already demonstrated their hatred for Judaism and the ancient testimonies of the thousands of years of unbroken Jewish presence in our land.

The terrible losses on the Temple Mount are further direct "peace dividends," which can be blamed on the callous giveaway process by Rabin-Peres. The spineless weakness that inspired that process has now also led to the loss of our ancient monument in Jerusalem.




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