A little more than a year ago, I was in Jerusalem visiting our son Samuel. We decided, early on a Monday morning, to visit that most sacred site in the holy city for Jews, Christians and Muslims, the Temple Mount.
As we walked upon the stones that pave that special place, we found that it was not possible for us to enter the Dome of the Rock. The reason, we discovered, was that we were not Muslims.
I explained to Samuel that not so many years ago non-Muslims were allowed to enter the Noble Sanctuary. I had visited that magnificent edifice on many occasions.
At the door of the Dome of the Rock, we spoke with a guard who doubled as a tour guide. He responded to Samuel’s inquiry about where the Jewish Temple had once stood with the answer that there had never been a Jewish Temple on the site. He assured us that that was a Jewish/Zionist myth.
In an interview on Israel radio after his International Holocaust Remembrance Day speech on Jan. 27 made mention of the Temple, the new secretary general of the United Nations, António Guterres, affirmed the historic truth that there is no doubt that it is “completely clear that the Temple that the Romans destroyed in Jerusalem was a Jewish temple.”
His statement caused an immediate response from several Palestinian leaders.
Adnan al-Husseini, a member of the well-known al-Husseini family and relative of the infamous grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, spoke out immediately. Husseini is the Palestinian Authority minister dealing with all matters concerning Jerusalem. He also serves as director general of the Muslim Waqf, which is responsible for Islamic religious sites in Jerusalem, including the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.
Al-Husseini reportedly told China’s Xinhua news agency that Guterres had “neglected the UNESCO resolutions, which clearly said that the al-Aqsa Mosque is purely an Islamic heritage.” He further called Guterres’ remarks “a violation of all human, diplomatic and legal rules and laws and a violation of his position as the secretary general.” He demanded that Guterres “apologize to the Palestinian people for his remarks.”
Ahmad Majdalani, a member of the PLO Executive Committee and an adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, reportedly said that Guterres’ statements “undermine the trustworthiness of the U.N. as a body that should support occupied peoples.” Xinhua also quoted him as calling on Guterres to clarify a position that “gives a green light to the occupation to undertake more measures against Jerusalem.”
And in a statement, Fayez Abu Eitah, secretary-general of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, said Guterres’ remarks show “bias in favor of the site of occupation and [are] akin to granting legitimacy to Israel’s illegal presence in Jerusalem.”
It is important to understand that this reaction to the remark made by Guterres provides another tragic indication of why prospects for a genuine peace remain so distant.
The denial of the historic ties between the Jews and Jerusalem is not new. This has been a constant refrain throughout the last 100 years. When he was grand mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini repeatedly distorted history in order to deny the ties of the Jews to Jerusalem and to the Land of Israel. It was the mufti who declared that, “We [the Muslims] own the Wall and the prayer area at it. They are part of the precincts of the Mosque and we will not give the Jews an inch. If they are to have access to the Wall, it will be an act of grace on our part and we will decide every everything regarding the use of the place.”
David Dalin and I documented his record in our 2008 book “Icon Of Evil — Hitler’s Mufti and the Rise of Radical Islam.”
The pernicious seeds of hate planted by the mufti continue to blossom into flowers of evil and are still being harvested to this day by Adnan al-Husseini and the Palestinian Authority, joined by Hamas and the radical Islamic forces in the Middle East.
Sadly, this distorted view of history has also been embraced by UNESCO. Just four months ago, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee passed a resolution that failed to mention any ties by Jews to Jerusalem or to the Temple Mount.
This obscene denial of the historic ties of the Jews to Jerusalem and the Western Wall provides ample proof that this horrific lie continues to live. It is the obligation of all individuals of conscience to join with Secretary General Guterres in demanding that this denial of history be repudiated by those who truly wish to seek peace.