Sunday, February 11, 2007


Three years ago, a ramp which provides access to the Temple Mount's Mugrabi Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem collapsed during a freak snowstorm. It was replaced by a temporary wooden structure and you can see from the picture above just how the ramp looks today.

Given the urgent need for repair, the Israelis drew up plans to remove this dangerous eyesore with a permanent replacement and the plans were duly approved a couple of weeks ago.

By law, any construction work in the Old City must be preceded by a salvage dig. Although, this dig is taking place in the Jewish Quarter, outside the Temple Mount, and in co-ordination with the Islamic Wakq, the Jordanian government and all other relevant authorities, some Muslims in the region have accused it of being part of an Israeli plan to undermine and destroy the Temple Mount.

This claim was made despite the fact that there is no expert evidence to suggest that the dig will do anything of the sort and despite the fact that, for years, Muslim authorities have been carrying out digs of their own inside the Temple Mount compound which they control.

And of course, despite the fact that Israeli law about construction in the Old City specifically states that the "Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings towards those places."

Inevitably, as often happens when Israelis innocently attempt to mend bridges between them and their Palestinian neighbours, the issue has become a platform for a propaganda campaign of hatred.

A consequence of this pervasive campaign has been the standard outpouring of rage in the Muslim world with some Muslims resorting to violence, threats and intimidation against Jewish interests unless the digging stops.

I agree that the digging should stop and, for the time being, Israel should forget about mending this bridge.

Instead, it should allocate the money it would have otherwise spent on repairing the structure in order to help feed its own poor and needy citizens.

In return, I expect the grateful Muslim world to chip in some dollars to repair and restore Jewish religious sites like Joseph's Tomb which was destroyed by rampaging mobs in the Palestinian Authority-controlled town of Nablus in 2003.

After that, everyone in the region can start trying to again mend and build bridges.


Anonymous said...

Of course the whole Muslim outrage is a crock, one more excuse to whip up fanatical frenzy. The repairs to the staircase which are made necessary by damage that a freak snowstorm caused several years ago, damage that can not be left unrepaired much longer, is a full 200 feet from the Temple Mount.

Will this be pointed out in the world's press or on television? No. It won't. We will see scenes of Muslims who claim to be aggrieved. We will see scenes of Israeli police and tear gas on the Temple Mount. You get the picture, the dreary picture.

Will there be any interviews with archaeologists around the world -- and of course in Israel -- about the real damage being done entirely by Muslim Arabs as they throw out hundreds and hundreds of tons of earth, and together with that earth all kinds of artifacts, Jewish and Muslim, and then dump it, because they wish to remove whatever traces they can of the Jewish past to be found on or under Temple Mount? They cannot stop to pluck out, and have no need to pluck out, Muslim artifacts -- because their claim is based on a single line in the Qur'an, about where the fabulous Night Journey ("miraj") of Muhammad took place (up and down from earth to seventh heaven, in a mere twenty-four hours).

That fateful line in the seventeenth sura about the "farthest mosque" (al-masjid al-aqsa") was subsequently, after some debate, fixed as Jerusalem by the Omayyad caliph sitting in Damascus. He chose to stake a claim to the city holy to Jews and Christians, just as Muslims had appropriated and distorted so much of the stories and figures in the prior monotheisms, Judaism and Christianity.

And for a bit more on how the Omayyad Caliph in Damascus went about staking that claim to Jerusalem, consider the "Dome of the Rock," which is nothing more than a Byzantine martyrium, of which there were so many. Within it, high up, there is Arabic but non-Qur'anic writing -- i.e. non-Muslim in its significance. People keep forgetting that Arabic writing does not always and everywhere imply Islam. See the analysis, which Muslims have chosen to ignore entirely, hoping it will not be noticed -- but it will, it is and it will -- by the great philologist of Syriac and classcial Arabic Christoph Luxenberg, "Neudeutung der arabischen Inschrift im Felsendom zu Jerusalem." It can be found in the anthhology "Die dunklen Anfange" published by Schiler in 2005. Silence by the world's Muslim scholars does not constitute a convincing refutation of Luxenberg's thesis that the inscriptions on the Dome of the Rock are not Islamic, but Christian in origin. The refusal by Muslims to question anything about their faith, and to refuse any hint of historical investigation akin to that which both Judaism and Christianity underwent with the Higher Criticism (starting in Germany and in England) may be understandable, given the rigidity and brittleness of Islam and its enforcement mechanism on its adherents.


Anonymous said...

This is what it's all about -

Gharqad Tree said...

"In return, I expect the grateful Muslim world to chip in some dollars to repair and restore Jewish religious sites like Joseph's Tomb which was destroyed by rampaging mobs in the Palestinian Authority-controlled town of Nablus in 2003."

Yes, Wilbur and pigs (and monkeys for that matter) can fly too!

Anonymous said...

I can hardly wait until Ed O'Loughlin gets his teeth into this story in the Age.

What's the betting on the amount of space he gives to the nonsensical fear campaign being spread by the Islamists and the amount he gives to the truth about the repairs being carried out?

Anonymous said...

Hi folks! Fred O'Loughlin here to bring you my special report of the controversy.


JERUSALEM – Angry Palestinian youths protested against Israeli construction work in Jerusalem on Saturday by symbolically throwing pebbles at Israeli police and at a Canadian tourist bus in a demonstration that came a day after Israeli police used tear gas and stun grenades to violently storm the Noble Sanctuary, a site sacred to the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims.

Protests have spread rapidly throughout the Muslim world against the construction work which Palestinian clerics claim is a just a cover for Israeli plans to undermine and ultimately destroy the Al Aksa Mosque where the Prophet Mohammed ascended to the heavens almost 1,400 years ago.

Speaking under cover of anonymity for fear of victimisation by Israeli authorities my informant made it clear that Israel’s planned destruction of Islamic shrines was yet another subtle "Zionist land grab" designed to add to the hardship being suffered by the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, territories illegally occupied by Israel when it attacked Egypt, Jordan and Syria in 1967.

"Palestinians are not able to freely walk around the area when they are carrying out violent demonstrations against the occupation," he told me.

The Noble Sanctuary made the news in 2000 when Israel's Ariel Sharon visited the area sparking six years of violence during which 4,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed. A small number of Israelis have also died.

An Israeli official denied that the repair work and accompanying excavations come anywhere near the compound but was unable to come up with any maps to prove this statement.

I think that just about covers the story, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to read the story in tomorrow's Age, Ed er... Fred.

Anonymous said...

The Islamic authorities who are stirring up hatred not only among Palestinians but Muslims the world over are a bunch of racist criminals.

What do you think they've been doing underneath Al Aksa mosque all of these years?

Why are they trying to stop this bridge from being reconstructed?

Not because the work will undermine the Al Aksa mosque but because they want to prevent easy access for non-Muslims to the Temple Mount and they don't want any digging to uncover further evidence of Jewish existence in the area before the Muslims and the Arabs came there.