Saturday, September 27, 2008

PA Bash Jews' 'Imaginary Temple'


by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

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, 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.

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


Thursday, September 25, 2008



by Moshe Sharon

An Israeli attack on Iran seems inevitable. If it succeeds, it will return to Israel its deterrent power and send a clear message to the saber-rattling jihadists that they were too early in beginning the countdown for the disappearance of the Jewish state.

If it fails, or fails to achieve the majority of its objectives, it could amount to an act of national suicide. Fanatical Muslims on every side will be encouraged by the failure and outcome of an Iranian retaliation which would cause heavy damage to the whole center of our country.

Iran would unquestionably be joined by its proxies on our borders, Hizbullah and Syria on the north and Hamas on the south, the PLO jihad brigades under various names, and the Arabs of Israel. The latter have already shown their ability to block major traffic arteries and demonstrated that their loyalties rest with their Arab brethren, not with the Jewish state.

The repeated declarations of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the aim of Iran is to wipe Israel off the world map should not be taken as the empty, fiery words of a fanatical Muslim dictator, but as a plan of action. True, Iran does not need a pretext, but an Israeli attack on any nuclear installation in Iran, or just an invasion of Iranian air space could be used as an excellent reason for mounting an all-out missile attack.

The damage to Iran would be serious, but not devastating. Iran has a very high tolerance level. It proved it in the early 1980s during the war against Iraq, when Teheran and other places came under destructive attacks by Frog and Scud missiles and the Iranian army suffered heavy losses on the battlefield.

Iran can live with one Israeli air raid or two; not with a nuclear attack. As it seems now, Israel does not have the military facilities to deal with the distances involved and with other technical obstacles to carry out a successful attack on Iran. A combined Israeli and American effort, however, could cause irreparable damage to the Iranian nuclear program.

A non-nuclear Israeli attack on Iran would be a "surgical" operation. But an Iranian-Hizbullah-Hamas attack would be indiscriminate and aimed at the major urban centers, causing tremendous harm.

IRAN HAS the motivation to destroy Israel, and if it is allowed to gain nuclear weapons it will not need an excuse to do so. That motivation is a double one: messianic Shi'ite and expansionist-imperial.

Since the late ninth century, the Shi'ites have been expecting the emergence of the hidden imam-mahdi, armed with divine power and followed by thousands of martyrdom-seeking warriors. He is expected to conquer the world and establish Shi'ism as its supreme religion and system of rule. His appearance would involve terrible war and unusual bloodshed.

Ahmadinejad, as mayor of Teheran, built a spectacular boulevard through which the mahdi would enter into the capital. There is no question that Ahmadinejad believes he has been chosen to be the herald of the mahdi.

Shi'ite Islam differs from Sunni Islam regarding the identity of the mahdi. The Sunni mahdi is essentially an anonymous figure; the Shi'ite mahdi is a divinely inspired person with a real identity.

However both Shi'ites and Sunnis share one particular detail about "the coming of the hour" and the dawning of messianic times: The Jews must all suffer a violent death, to the last one.

Both Shi'ites and Sunnis quote the famous hadith attributed to the Prophet Muhammad: The last hour will not come unless the Muslims fight against the Jews, and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and the stone or the tree would say: "Muslim! Servant of Allah! Here is a Jew behind me; come and kill him!"

Not one Friday passes without this hadith being quoted in sermons from one side of the Islamic world to the other.

Shi'ism regards the Jews as an embodiment of filth and the contaminating source of ritual impurity — which adds another religious justification to the Muslims to rid themselves of the Jews and their state. Iran threatens that it has the ability to do so with its ballistic missiles and the readily available services of local proxies who would love to join the general effort to kill the Jews.

THE OTHER side of Iran's motivation to destroy Israel is the imperial one.

Iran has the same virus inherent in every totalitarian power — to gain imperial dominion. Totalitarian Iran wants to recreate its empire east of the Mediterranean. The leaders of modern Iran, long before the present Islamic regime, toyed with the idea of reviving the empire of Cyrus and Darius.

The present Islamic regime has the same aspirations. Nuclear power is necessary to achieve this desire. As fantastic as it sounds, the destruction of the State of Israel seems necessary for the expansion to the east Mediterranean (which might include the elimination of a few Sunni entities such as Saudi Arabia and some Gulf states).

LET US try a scenario in which Israel carries out a successful attack, with or without active American help, on a few key Iranian reactors. Such an operation would not completely destroy Iran's nuclear capability, but it would badly wound its national and Islamic pride.

The Iranian people, including the opposition would, at least in the initial stage, rally around the ruling mullahs. The price of oil would soar, Israel would be blamed for the destruction of the West's economy, and Europe might go so far as to impose sanctions on Israel, with or without a UN decision.

Moreover, being an easy target, Israel would have to brace for the inevitable Iranian retaliation. Iran would attack with the Shihab 3 ballistic missiles that carry a warhead of up to one ton and have an accuracy of 50 meters-100m. Israel has an answer to a limited number of these missiles, of which Iran has probably a few hundred. It has no answer to all the missiles that would be launched against it from three fronts.

Theoretically, Iran can deliver 1,000-1,500 tons of the most modern explosives within a few days. The long-range missiles that have been supplied to Hizbullah via Damascus, and the arsenal that has been massed by Hamas in Gaza, which includes missiles that can reach Beersheba, must also be taken into consideration.

There is no question that these two organizations will move into action together with Iran, and it is not impossible that Hizbullah would attempt the invasion of Israel proper to gain a local victory by occupying a border village, killing inhabitants and kidnapping a few over to Lebanon.

This gruesome situation can happen any time, and not necessarily as a result of an Israeli attack on Iran. Such an attack, however, would surely bring it about.

ARE THESE facts not known to the Israeli intelligence agencies? They are, but so were Hitler's intentions known to the British and the French before World War II, and they were known to the Russians before Operation Barbarosa. None of them did anything to stop the German dictator before it was too late.

At the end of the war, Europe was freed. The Germans were defeated and none of the countries of Europe was obliterated from the map. In the case of Israel, there is no recovery from a one-time devastation.

There is no second chance.


Moshe Sharon Professor (Emeritus) of Islamic History and Civilization The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.




by Israel Kasnett

While the Arab-Israeli conflict today is a diplomatic and military one, it is also composed of a third element — the media. Not being confined, the media debate has spread throughout the internet, online newspapers, online journals and of course, blogs.

Although contributors to online blogs and threads often offer nothing more than rubbish and repartee, there exists a lively and healthy debate on the Arab-Israeli conflict. One of the main points of contention on most blogs and discussions I have seen center around one issue. Pro-Palestinian writers claim that in 1948, Israel appropriated Palestinian lands and villages to create their own cities and agricultural communities. Pro-Israel writers offer good counterpoints but these are often insufficient to properly negate the argument and win the debate.

Debaters from both sides of the argument often use sources gleaned from political, left or right-wing sources and this damages the quality of the argument since the proofs brought are often nothing more than the biased views of extreme groups. When making an argument, it is important to find credible information from sources that cannot be attributed to a specific political slant.

The first part of the argument that Zionists stole Palestinian land can refer to the British Mandate period before the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. Arab absentee landowners owned most of the land eventually used by the UN to create the State of Israel and their willingness to sell the land to Jews demonstrates evident disinterest in maintaining ownership over it.

Furthermore, Arab governments displaced their own populations in far greater numbers than the Jews displaced Palestinian Arabs up until the 1930's. Jews were careful not to buy land in areas that would cause Arab displacement and instead bought uncultivated land in remote areas. Israeli leaders at the time discouraged Jews from displacing Arabs and placed heavy importance on a continued Arab presence in the land.

In January of 1937, Ben Gurion testified before the Palestine Royal Commission in which he said, "We will work it out together, and we will see to it that not a single Arab cultivator is displaced, but he should not only remain, but his conditions should be improved, and, by intensification, new room should be created for new Jewish settlers."

However, even with this proposed cooperation, Arabs often sold their land to Jews when they decided to move elsewhere or when they needed the money to invest in promising Jewish-owned business projects.

THE PEEL COMMISSION OF 1937 FOUND ARAB CLAIMS THAT JEWS STOLE THEIR LAND AS BASELESS. Land shortages were due more in part to massive Arab immigration to Palestine from other Arab countries than to Jewish land purchases. Chapter IX of the Peel Commission states,

"The shortage of land is due less to purchase by Jews than to the increase in the Arab population. The Arab claims that the Jews have obtained too large a proportion of good land cannot be maintained. Much of the land now carrying orange groves was sand dunes or swamps and uncultivated when it was bought."

Whereas the British resigned much of Palestine to be "uninhabitable," the Jews took this "barren wasteland," drained the swamps and "made the desert bloom." Many of the Jewish-owned citrus groves at the time were situated on sand dunes viewed by the British as "uncultivable."

It is without doubt that the Jews, in their quest to purchase and acquire more land, did not take any land from Arabs unlawfully. Furthermore, Arab absentee landlords living elsewhere and real estate brokers sold their land to Jews at an inflated cost.

As of today, not a single person representing the pro-Palestinian view has been able to contradict this reality using any official documentation, land data or historical records.

Furthermore, the Peel Commission admitted that Arabs on the whole, benefited from a growing Jewish presence in the land as they brought economic prosperity and stability to Palestine and its inhabitants.

"The Arab population shows a remarkable increase since 1920, and it has had some share in the increased prosperity of Palestine. Many Arab landowners have benefited from the sale of land and the profitable investment of the purchase money. The fellaheen are better off on the whole than they were in 1920. This Arab progress has been partly due to the import of Jewish capital into Palestine and other factors associated with the growth of the National Home. In particular, the Arabs have benefited from social services which could not have been provided on the existing scale without the revenue obtained from the Jews."


UP UNTIL 1948, THE PALESTINIAN ARAB POPULATION GREW APPROXIMATELY 120 PERCENT. This population growth occurred in tandem with Palestinian Jewish population growth and for reasons often overlooked. Jewish immigration and subsequent economic growth in Palestine led to increased Arab immigration from other countries by those seeking economic opportunity. Many Arabs at the time wandered around the Middle East seeking sustenance and a means to support their families.

Arab claims that they were displaced from their homes after living there generation after generation for thousands of years were baseless and fabricated. Most Arabs living in Palestine prior to 1948 had come from Arab lands in search of subsistence and had not been in Palestine for more than a few years.

In addition, the Jews cleared unused land, drained swamps in the Jezreel Valley and surrounding areas and in doing so, helped rid the country of its widespread malaria problem. They established medical clinics, improved water supplies and developed better solutions to deal with sanitation. All this, directly led to better health, higher standard of living, longer life expectancy and a lower infant mortality rate.

It is clear that Arab complaints against Jews were, for the most part, politically motivated, and did not reflect the reality in Palestine at the time. In comparison to their lives in Arab countries or the situation in Palestine before massive Jewish immigration, Arabs saw a consistently increased improvement in their standard of living, overall health and improved economic stability — all while cultivating their own land.

 Israel Kasnett lives in Israel and is a pro-Israel advocate and political strategist.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Appease Iran?


By Daniel Pipes

After Hitler, the policy of appeasing dictators – ridiculed by Winston Churchill as feeding a crocodile, hoping it will eat one last – appeared to be permanently discredited. Yet the policy has enjoyed some successes and remains a live temptation today in dealing with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Academics have long challenged the facile vilification of appeasement. Already in 1961, A.J.P. Taylor of Oxford justified Neville Chamberlain's efforts, while Christopher Layne of Texas A&M currently argues that Chamberlain "did the best that he could with the cards he was dealt." Daniel Treisman, a political scientist at UCLA, finds the common presumption against appeasement to be "far too strong," while his University of Florida colleague Ralph B.A. Dimuccio calls it "simplistic."

 In perhaps the most convincing treatment of the pro-appeasement thesis, Paul M. Kennedy, a British historian teaching at Yale University, established that appeasement has a long and credible history. In his 1976 article, "The Tradition of Appeasement in British Foreign Policy, 1865-1939," Kennedy defined appeasement as a method of settling quarrels "by admitting and satisfying grievances through rational negotiation and compromise," thereby avoiding the horrors of warfare. It is, he noted, an optimistic approach, presuming humans to be reasonable and peaceful.

From the prime ministry of William Gladstone until its discrediting in the late 1930s, appeasement was, in Kennedy's description, a "perfectly respectable" term and even "a particularly British form of diplomacy" well suited to the country's character and circumstances. Kennedy found the policy had four quasi-permanent bases, all of which apply especially well to the United States today:

  • Moral: After the Evangelical movement swept England in the early nineteenth century, British foreign policy contained a strong urge to settle disputes fairly and non-violently.
  • Economic: As the world's leading trader, the United Kingdom had a vital national interest in avoiding disruptions to commerce, from which it would disproportionately suffer.
  • Strategic: Britain's global empire meant it was over-extended (making it, in Joseph Chamberlain's term, a "weary titan"); accordingly, it had to choose its battles sparingly, making compromise an accepted and routine way of dealing with problems.
  • Domestic: The extension of the franchise made public opinion a growing factor in decisionmaking, and the public did not care for wars, especially expensive ones.

As a result, for over seven decades, London pursued, with rare exceptions, a foreign policy that was "pragmatic, conciliatory, and reasonable." Again and again, the authorities found that "the peaceful settlement of disputes was much more to Britain's advantage than recourse to war." In particular, appeasement steadily influenced British policy vis-à-vis the United States (in relation to, for example, the Panama Canal, Alaska's borders, Latin America as a U.S. sphere of influence) and Wilhelmine Germany (the "naval holiday" proposal, colonial concessions, restraint in relations with France).

Kennedy judges the policy positively, as serviceably guiding the foreign relations of the world's most powerful state for decades and "encapsulating many of the finer aspects of the British political tradition." If not a brilliant success, appeasement permitted London to accommodate the expanding influence of its non-ideological rivals such as the United States and Imperial Germany, which generally could be counted on to accept concessions without becoming inflamed. It thus slowed the UK's gentle decline.

Post-1917 and the Bolshevik Revolution, however, concessions failed to mollify the new kind of ideologically-driven enemy – Hitler in the 1930s, Brezhnev in the 1970s, Arafat and Kim Jong-Il in the 1990s, and now, Khamene'i and Ahmadinejad. These ideologues exploit concessions and deceitfully offer a quid pro quo that they do not intend to fulfill. Harboring aspirations to global hegemony, they cannot be appeased. Concessions to them truly amount to feeding the crocodile.

However dysfunctional these days, appeasement abidingly appeals to the modern Western psyche, ineluctably arising when democratic states face aggressive ideological enemies. With reference to Iran, for example, George W. Bush may bravely have denounced "the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history," but Middle East Quarterly editor Michael Rubin rightly discerns in the realities of U.S. policy that "now Bush is appeasing Iran."

Summing up, the policy of appeasement goes back a century and a half, enjoyed some success, and ever remains alive. But with ideological enemies it must consciously be resisted, lest the tragic lessons of the 1930s, 1970s, and 1990s be ignored. And repeated.


Mr. Pipes - director of the Middle East Forum, is the Taube Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University during the spring semester.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.