Opinion |

Our Holy Sites vs. Their Holy Sites

Israel's whining over UNESCO is arrogant and hypocritical, coming from a state that does everything in its power to conceal or minimize everything that existed here before we came, and after we left, until we returned.

B. Michael
B. Michael
Israel's Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama-Hacohen discards a resolution on Jerusalem, saying it 'belongs in the garbage bin of history,' November 10, 2016.
Israel's Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama-Hacohen discards a resolution on Jerusalem, saying it 'belongs in the garbage bin of history,' November 10, 2016.Credit: Permanent mission of Israel to the UN
B. Michael
B. Michael

On the sidelines of the manufactured hysteria over UNESCO’s resolutions on Jerusalem, a pair of contemptible traits to which the Bibi government has given renewed life once again emerged: hypocrisy and its permanent partner, chutzpah.

The UNESCO resolutions, incidentally, don’t even touch on the question of the Jews’ connection to the Western Wall and the Temple Mount, or lack thereof. Not by so much as a single word. It’s all spin, it’s all a bluff. And this Israeli lamentation is no different from Muslim lamentation (had there been any) over the fact that the UNESCO resolutions didn’t confirm the truth of Mohammed’s ascension to heaven on the back of his winged horse.

But someone like Netanyahu would never waste the opportunity to inflame tempers a little. And what’s more inflammatory than the site of our Holy of Holies?

Yet the whole issue of the Temple is also wrapped in spin and bluffs.

It’s true that there’s more than enough convincing written evidence that a Jewish temple once stood in Jerusalem. But there isn’t even a shred of evidence, archaeological or otherwise, as to its location. Was the Temple on the northern part of the plateau forming the Temple Mount? The southern side? Perhaps on the east? Not on the west? Was it atop the eponymous rock of the Dome of the Rock? Or alongside it? There are as many theories as there are scholars.

Muslim graves at the site of the planned Museum of Tolerance in JerusalemCredit: Archive

And in fact, this isn’t surprising in the least. It’s not easy to discover the location of the needle known as the Temple in the haystack of the Temple Mount.

A few interesting numbers: The Temple Mount compound (the area within the Herodian walls) is an area of some 142 dunams (35 acres), plus or minus. The building footprint of the Temple, even in its glory days and including all its courtyards, was barely 12 dunams. In other words, only 8.5 percent of the area known as the Temple Mount was actually the Temple. That’s it. All of the remaining 91.5 percent is devoid of any temple, empty of any divine presence, free of any sanctity. It’s just a piazza.

But in the view of most Israeli Jews, and their rulers, the entire Temple Mount is the site of our Temple; it’s all holy, and it’s all ours. Only ours.

And the lamentations and the hysteria reach the heavens: “Oy gevalt! The United Nations didn’t declare that it’s all ours.”

This whining is both arrogant and hypocritical, especially coming from a state that has destroyed dozens of mosques so thoroughly that their burial site is unknown. One that intentionally ignores 1,000 years of Muslim rule in Jerusalem. That does everything in its power to conceal or minimize everything that existed here before we came, and after we left, until we returned.

An aerial view of the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa, and the adjacent Muslim cemetery.Credit: Ofer Vaknin

As evidence, a brief reminder that has been under our noses for years:

There’s a park in Jerusalem. Its name is Independence Park. It’s built on an Arab cemetery.

There’s a park in Tel Aviv. Its name is Independence Park. It’s built on an Arab cemetery.

In Jerusalem, a museum is being built. It’s called the Museum of Tolerance. And the name is apt. In Jerusalem, “tolerance” is indeed a museum exhibit. This museum, too, is built on an Arab cemetery.

In Jaffa, there’s a center. It’s called the Peres Center for Peace. From its west-facing windows, you can see the sea. Nothing but the sea. Your eyes are filled with the sea. From its south-facing windows you can see graves. Nothing but graves. Your eyes are filled with graves. Arab graves.

So what do we have? “Independence” twice over their bones, “Tolerance” over their gravestones and “peace” over their dead.

Because this, after all, is the way of our world: Our holy sites are holy forever. Their holy sites are like the dust of the earth — a lot on which to create a park, scaffolding on which to build temples to “peace and tolerance,” or just a sea of stones on which to tread while we cry the cry of the robbed Cossack, the marauder who portrays himself as the real victim.

How pathetic.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Election ad featuring Yair Lapid in Rahat, the largest Arab city in Israel's Negev region.

This Bedouin City Could Decide Who Is Israel's Next Prime Minister

Dr. Claris Harbon in the neighborhood where she grew up in Ashdod.

A Women's Rights Lawyer Felt She Didn't Belong in Israel. So She Moved to Morocco

Mohammed 'Moha' Alshawamreh.

'It Was Real Shock to Move From a Little Muslim Village, to a Big Open World'

From the cover of 'Shmutz.'

'There Are Similarities Between the Hasidic Community and Pornography’

A scene from Netflix's "RRR."

‘RRR’: If Cocaine Were a Movie, It Would Look Like This

Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

Yair Lapid's Journey: From Late-night Host to Israel's Prime Minister