Middle East conflict is at the center of today's media
stories, political decision-making, and public debate.
The conflict is the result of deeply held religious
beliefs and claims to sovereignty over Jerusalem, the
Temple Mount, and Israel itself. The battle waged by
the rest of the world to solve the problems of the
Middle East will not be easily won until and unless the
facts behind these religious beliefs and historical
claims to the Jewish Holy Lands are truly understood and
considered. Judging by the biased media accounts of the
conflict and the willingness of the masses to ignore
history and facts, a solution at the negotiating table
may never be realized. The next Middle East war may
very well be fought over the Temple Mount.
Israel recaptured Jerusalem in 1967 and reunited the
city, they unfortunately did not consolidate the spoils
of victory. In the interest of peace and tolerance and
in a misguided effort to extend an olive branch to their
Muslim neighbors, the politicians of the time left the
Temple Mount in Muslim hands. While Israel still claims
sovereignty over the Temple Mount, the entire site has
effectively been placed under Muslim administration and
control. Jewish visitors to the Wailing Wall are
frequently the target of stone-throwing Muslims and
rioting Palestinians, and Jews are not allowed to set
foot on the Temple Mount. In fact, it was Ariel Sharon's
visit to the Temple Mount, that led to the currently
declared Intifada, or Palestinian uprising in the Middle
East. Since the beginning of these hostilities, a peace
settlement has consistently eluded the international
community, and has been a source of frustration and
conflict for the world's governments.
reality is that compromise is impossible. Most
religious Jews would be against sharing the Temple
Mount, and such a settlement would be unthinkable to the
Palestinians, the Islamic Waqf, and the entire Muslim
world. The re-division of Jerusalem is also rejected by
most Israelis for security reasons and religious
beliefs, and we will see later that the Palestinians
have no plans to share any part of Israel.
spiritual ties to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount run
deep. Jews and Christians both believe that Jerusalem
and the Temple Mount were chosen by God (Psalm
132:13-14) and that, as God promised in Isaiah 2:2-3,
Jerusalem and the Temple Mount will once again be
controlled by the Jewish people. In fact the Temple
must be rebuilt on the Temple Mount in the exact
location of the previous two temples before the coming
of the Messiah (Zech. 1:16, II Thessalonians 2:4,
Revelations 11:1). For this reason, negotiating away
Jerusalem and the Temple Mount in East Jerusalem is no
more an option than establishing the state of Israel in
the Mediterranean Sea, which happens to be the Arabs
other side of the issue the Palestinians will tell
governments and the world they want only East Jerusalem
as their capital. However, their true goal is to have
all of Jerusalem and the entire state of Israel.
Palestinians and Muslims in general reject the
historical fact that any Jewish Temple ever existed on
the Temple Mount. Archeological evidence is rejected
and dismissed as pre-Islamic and inconclusive. The
Palestinian Authority and Arab world negotiate because
they understand that strategic areas will need to be
taken first. They recognize the success of the Romans'
tactics in 70 A.D. The Romans did not proceed directly
to conquer Jerusalem. Instead, leaving Jerusalem for
last, they first took Galilee and Judea allowing them to
take Jerusalem and be able to hold it. The goal of the
Palestinian Authority is not a two state solution, but a
one state solution - minus Israel. While we may not hear
this version on the nightly news, that's not because
their motives and vision for the future are a secret.
The logos of all 7 major branches of the PLO show a
Palestinian state with land boundaries that include all
of the territory west of the Jordan River, including all
of Israel. Yasser Arafat boldly proclaims this position
for all to hear. On September 19, 1993 Arafat
told the world, "Our first goal is the liberation of
all occupied territories…and the establishment of a
Palestinian State whose capital is Jerusalem. The
agreement we arrived at is not a complete solution and
the forerunner to a final settlement, which must be
based on complete withdrawal from all occupied
Palestinian lands, especially holy Jerusalem." (As
sited in "Let them Speak for Themselves!", Dispatch from
Jerusalem Nov/Dec 1993). When speaking to ambassadors
in Stockholm on January 30, 1996, Arafat said, "We
Palestinians will take over everything including all of
Jerusalem. We plan to eliminate the State of Israel and
establish a Palestinian state."
Palestinian Authority and the Arab world justify the
elimination of the state of Israel by denying that the
Jewish holy sites in Jerusalem ever existed and
discrediting any Jewish historical claim to the land.
They argue that Solomon and David are mythological
figures and there is no evidence there ever was a Jewish
Temple on the Temple Mount. When confronted with
archeological evidence that proves the existence of a
Jewish Temple, they counter with an admission that a
temple may have existed somewhere in the city of
Jerusalem, but deny that it could have existed on the
Temple Mount. By denying that there is any evidence of
a Jewish Temple, they try to eliminate any need for
further archeological research and are able to keep the
temple mount sealed off to any excavation.
attempt to further de-legitimize Judaism and Jewish
history, Yasser Arafat publicly claims that the ancient
Jewish temple was never situated in Jerusalem or any
other part of Israel. In an interview with the
London-based Arab newspaper Al Hayat (Oct. 5, 2002),
Arafat falsely claimed that archaeologists "have not
found a single stone proving that the Temple of Solomon
was there, because historically the Temple was not in
Palestine." (translated by MEMRI).
to see how a two state solution is possible when one
party denies the other party even has the right to
are the facts about the religious and historical claims
to the Holy Lands? To the Jewish people, Jerusalem is
their history, their religion, their home, and their
future. This historical Jewish connection to the Holy
Lands is documented in biblical history and is affirmed
by other ancient literary sources, as well as Roman,
Christian and Pilgrim accounts of history, archeological
excavations, and architecture such as the Arch of Titus'
Triumph in Rome. The Arch of Titus' Triumph documents
the destruction of the second temple in 70 A.D. The
destruction of these temples is still commemorated today
on the Jewish national day of morning, Tisha B'Av.
many verses in the Bible that place the Jewish people in
Israel and the Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount (Mount
Moriah) in Jerusalem. When Isaac goes out into the
fields to pray prior to meeting Rebecca for the first
time (Genesis 24:63-67), he is standing on Mount Moriah.
Jacob's dream of the ladder to heaven (Genesis 27:10-22)
takes place on Mount Moriah. II Samuel 5 documents the
capture of Jerusalem from the Canaanites and the
conversion of the city into the political and spiritual
capital of the Jewish people. Archaeologists agree that
the original Canaanite city and the City of David were
located in what is now the Arab village of Silwan, a few
meters south of the modern walls of the Old City.
to II Samuel 24:18-25 King David purchased the peak of
the Temple Mount (Mount Moriah) for the purpose of
building the future Temple. I Kings 6-8 describes in
great detail how David's son, King Solomon, built and
dedicated the temple: "And it came to pass after the
408th year after the Children of Israel left Egypt, in
the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the
month of Ziv, the second month, he began to build the
temple of the Lord."
the site of the first two temples is not in the exact
same location as the Dome of the Rock (there are several
theories, all involving the Temple Mount area), most
archeologists agree that it stood on Mount Moriah.
However, Muslims still claim a right to sovereignty over
the entire Temple Mount and everything beneath it.
believe that the Temple Mount was consecrated by the
Shekinah glory of God, which has never left that spot.
The story of the binding of Isaac (Genesis 22:1-19, II
Chronicles 3:1) takes place in the "land of Moriah" on
the site of the present-day Temple Mount. Abraham chose
this site specifically because he sensed how God's
presence is strongly connected to it.
sacredness of the Temple Mount is also well represented
in contemporary Jewish practice. When religious Jews
pray three times a day, they always turn toward
Jerusalem. The Muslims face toward Mecca. Jerusalem is
also mentioned in numerous traditional daily prayers and
the Passover Seder is closed with the words "Next Year
in Jerusalem". These same words are invoked to conclude
the holiest day of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur. During
the Jewish wedding ceremony, the groom breaks a glass as
a sign of the mourning to commemorate the destruction of
the two temples which stood on Mount Moriah, and then
recites part of Psalm 137: "If I forget thee, O
Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I
do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof
of my mouth; if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest
Islam recorded that when Muslims first came to Jerusalem
they discovered the Rock of Sacrifice that once occupied
the Holy of Holies. Arab geographer Yakut, in 1225 A.D.
said "the city of Jerusalem was holy to Jews and
Christians, as it has been for 3,000 and 2,000 years
respectfully." The Palestinian Encyclopedia states that
"Ever since the destruction of the Temple, the link with
Jews and Christians has been severed. Muslims alone
have a right to the Temple."
proof exists in 19th century British surveys that match
exactly with the measurements of the temple in the
Talmud and as detailed by Josephus, the Jewish historian
who lived during the end of the Second Temple period.
Archeological discovery in areas under the Temple Mount
have been thwarted by the Palestinians, and much of the
archeological artifacts have been destroyed in an
attempt to remove any evidence of a Jewish claim to the
Holy Lands. Many of the underground passages have also
been walled up by the Muslims and are guarded to keep
the "infidels" and the curious away. However, despite
the continuing destruction of Jewish history in
Jerusalem and the temple mount, there are a great number
of artifacts that prove the Jewish temple did exist.
For example, they have found the staircase that ascended
to the southern end of the temple, the entrance gates to
the temple mount, and numerous pieces of artifacts with
Hebrew inscriptions identifying the site as Jewish.
Islamic connection to Jerusalem began much later in
history, during the 7th century CE. Scholars agree that
the founder of Islam, Muhammad, was heavily influenced
by Judaism and Christianity. It was this influence that
led Muhammad to first instruct his followers to pray in
the direction of Jerusalem. This was later changed to
the direction of Mecca, a city in Saudi Arabia that was
converted from a pagan pilgrimage site to the "eternal
city", and made the center of the Muslim religion.
Islam also teaches that Mecca is the place where Abraham
nearly sacrificed Isaac's brother Ishmael, an altered
version of the Biblical account on Mount Moriah.
claims that the Western Wall, or Wailing Wall, is not a
Jewish holy site, but is instead the place where
Muhammad tied his steed on his Night Journey from Mecca
to Al-Aqsa (Jerusalem), and the exposed piece of bedrock
on top of Mount Moriah is the site of Mohammed's
ascension to heaven, making it an Islamic holy site.
History, however, does not support this belief as being
an original Muslim teaching. Suleiman the Magnificent,
the Islamic Ottoman Turkish Sultan, recognized in the
16th century that the Western Wall is a holy place of
the Jewish people. In fact, he even built an oratory
there for the Jews.
always claimed to be the last of the revelations from
God. According to Islam, it is superior to Judaism and
Christianity, and the teachings of their prophet
Muhammad correct the corruption of God's message
introduced by Christians and Jews, making Islam the only
true religion. Because the other two monotheistic faiths,
Judaism and Christianity, held Jerusalem to be their
holiest site, it made sense for Islam to replace Judaism
and Christianity in Jerusalem and absorb their
identity. Just as they felt they were commanded by God
to replace the doctrines of these religions, they needed
to gain superiority over their holy sites in order to
establish Islam as the restored truth.
of the Rock was built by the Umayyid Caliph Abd al-Malik,
the ruler of the Islamic Empire, to compete with the
massive Byzantine Christian structures in Jerusalem and
to counter the magnificent churches in the area, such as
the Church of the Holy Sepulcher that had been built as
a tribute to the glory of Christ. In fact, the present
dimensions of the Dome of the Rock are identical to
those of the rotunda of the Holy Sepulcher. As further
proof of this intent to establishing the superiority of
Islam in Jerusalem, Jews and Christians were stripped of
any religious rights and forced to where colored badges
to identify their inferior status. Blue badges were
used for Christians and yellow badges for Jews. The
yellow badges were later brought back during the
Historians also speculate that Jerusalem may have been
adopted as a holy site of Islam out of need rather than
revelation. The establishment of the Umayyid Islamic
Dynasty in 658 corresponds to a period of instability in
the Islamic world, characterized by power struggles and
assassinations. One of the Five Pillars of Islam is
Hajj -- pilgrimage to Mecca. In the late 7th century,
the Damascus based Umayyid Caliphate lost control of
Mecca. The need to create an alternative Muslim holy
site closer to Damascus may have pushed the Umayyid
Caliph Abd al-Malik, in 688, to begin construction of
the Dome of the Rock on the former site of the Jewish
prophet Muhammad never went to Jerusalem, and the city
is never mentioned in the Quran. The association with
Muhammad's night journey was never claimed prior to the
building of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount.
In contrast, the Jewish Bible has many names for
Jerusalem including Salem (Shalem), Moriah, Jebuse (Yevuse),
Jerusalem (Yerushalayim), and Zion (Tziyon). The most
common term for the city, Yerushalayim, is mentioned 349
times in the Jewish Bible, while Tziyon is mentioned an
additional 108 times.
until 1187 A.D., after the Crusaders had been forced
out, that there was ever a claim made to Jerusalem and
the Temple Mount as the third holiest site in Islam.
From 638 CE until 1917 (with the exception of the
Crusader occupation from 1099 to 1187), Jerusalem was
controlled by various Islamic dynasties based in Syria,
Egypt and Turkey. However, none of these Islamic
dynasties ever made Jerusalem their capital. Even as
late as 1964 the inaugural PLO Covenant did not mention
Jerusalem at all. Only after the city fell back under
Jewish control did the updated PLO Covenant of 1968
mention Jerusalem by name.
these Muslim religious beliefs and denials of history
that will never allow the Palestinians to compromise
their exclusive claim to the Temple Mount.
Husseini, A senior Waqf official said "The Mosques on
the Temple Mount were built by the order of God…Our
sovereignty is not subject to compromise." He argued
that Allah would never allow a mosque to be built on
land defiled by a Jewish Temple, therefore a temple
could not have existed on the Temple Mount.
quest for Middle East Peace, the United States and other
countries propose a two state solution for Israel that
would divide Jerusalem, making East Jerusalem the
capital of a new Palestinian state. In addition to the
religious differences, and the Palestinian goal of
eliminating all of Israel, history shows that a divided
Jerusalem will never work.
- 1967, Jerusalem was divided between the Israeli Jews
and Jordanian Arabs. During that time, the animosity of
Arabs toward the Jews was fierce. When the U.N. passed
a resolution to divide Jerusalem and have the city
administered by the U.N., the Jews accepted the
division. The Arabs however,
opposed it on the basis that they felt they were
entitled to all of Jerusalem. Interestingly, the
solution provided by the U.N. then is the same proposal
the Arabs are supporting in negotiations today.
the Arab nations launched a war that took back East
Jerusalem, bypassing U.N. administration of the city.
For 19 years the city was divided between East and West.
In just one year during this time 9 Israelis were killed
and 55 wounded by the sniper fire that was a continuous
threat to Jews near the dividing line. Jews were
not allowed to visit the Western wall or any other area
of East Jerusalem, including Jewish cemeteries.
With their security threatened constantly, they were
forced to erect barriers and barbed-wire fences,
creating a prison-like atmosphere in West Jerusalem.
the Jews recaptured Jerusalem. Upon their return, they
found a city that had been destroyed. Everything Jewish
had been removed and looted. Synagogues had been
demolished or used as garbage dumps, and Jewish graves
had been unearthed, and the bones scattered over the
ground. The Palestinians knew that, by Jewish law, this
kind of desecration would prevent the Jews from being
able to use the ground for holy sites, or to build a
temple or synagogue on the land. Consistently, areas
handed over to the Palestinians in an effort to bring
about peace, have been destroyed in this way, and then
used as a base of operations for terrorist plots by
those organizations that make up the Palestinian
"uprising". This is the kind of destruction,
disrespect, and desecration of their homeland that the
Israelis can expect if Jerusalem is once again divided.
Palestinians, who even destroyed Jewish road signs when
they took over East Jerusalem, will never allow a Jewish
Temple to be built on or anywhere near the Temple Mount,
or even in Jerusalem for that matter. There will be a
third temple, however. The Bible makes that clear. For
this reason and all those listed above, a Palestinian
state can not be formed without dealing first with the
irreconcilable differences of two religions, without
leaving behind the revisionist and false accounts of
history, and without recognizing the true goals of the
Muslim Arabs who claim not just the Temple Mount, and
not just Jerusalem, but all of Israel as their land.