Temple Denial

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Temple Denial refers to the assertion that none of the Temples in Jerusalem ever existed or were not located on the Temple Mount. Israeli writer David Hazony has described the phenomenon as "a campaign of intellectual erasure [by Palestinian leaders, writers, and scholars] ... aimed at undermining the Jewish claim to any part of the land", and compared the phenomenon to Holocaust denial.[1][2] Daniel Levin calls Temple denial a "relatively new phenomenon" that "has become a central tenet of Palestinian nationalism".[3] He stated: "The Islamic land trust is destroying Judeo-Christian ruins beneath the Temple Mount so as to deny any connection between Judaism and Christianity and Jerusalem."[4]

Physical evidence[edit]

The Trumpeting Place inscription, a stone (2.43×1 m) with Hebrew writing "To the Trumpeting Place" uncovered during archaeological excavations by Benjamin Mazar at the southern foot of the Temple Mount is believed to be a part of the complex of the Second Temple.

Archaeological excavations have found remnants of both the First Temple and Second Temple. Among the artifacts of the First Temple are dozens of ritual purification baths in this area surrounding the Temple Mount,[5] as well as a large square platform identified by architectural archaeologist Leen Ritmeye as likely being built by king Hezekiah c. 700 BCE as a gathering area in front of the Temple.[6]

Denial by Palestinians[edit]

Reconstruction of the appearance of the Herodian Temple
Sack of the Second Temple depicted on the inside wall of the Arch of Titus in Rome.

Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, used the term "Temple Denial" in his 2007 book, The Fight for Jerusalem: Radical Islam, the West, and the Future of the Holy City.

The New York Times noted that "Temple denial, increasingly common among Palestinian leaders, also has a long history: After Israel became a state in 1948, the Waqf removed from its guidebooks all references to King Solomon's Temple, whose location at the site it had previously said was "beyond dispute.""[7][8][9]

According to Gold and Dennis Ross, at the 2000 Camp David Summit Yasser Arafat insisted that "the Temple" existed near Nablus, not on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.[10][11][12] And in the recollection of Ehud Barak, referring to a conversation he had with Clinton, Arafat said to the US President, "there is nothing there [i.e., no trace of a temple on the Temple Mount]." [13]

Ross later wrote about an August 2000 meeting he had with Arafat: "Since we would be discussing the options on the Haram, I anticipated that Arafat might well again declare that the Temple—the most sacred place in Jewish tradition—did not exist in Jerusalem, but was in Nablus.... I wanted Gamal, a Christian of Coptic origin who was originally from Egypt, to tell Arafat that this was an outrageous attempt to delegitimize the Israeli connection to Jerusalem.... Finally, after nearly ten minutes of increasing invective, I intervened and said 'Mr. Chairman, regardless of what you think, the President of the United States knows that the Temple existed in Jerusalem. If he hears you denying its existence there, he will never again take you seriously. My advice to you is never again raise this issue in his presence.'"[14]

According to Gold, in the wake of Arafat's remark at Camp David, Temple denial "spread across the Middle East like wildfire", and even "subtly slipped into the writing of Middle-East based western reporters".[15]

In 2005, in a book entitled From Jerusalem to Mecca and Back; The Islamic Consolidation of Jerusalem, Yitzhak Reiter describes the growing tendency of Islamic authorities to deny the existence of the Jewish Temples on the Temple Mount, characterizing it as part of a campaign to increase the status of Jerusalem and the Temple mount in Islam as part of the effort to make Jerusalem a Muslim city under Arab governance. According to Reiter, this narrative "reflects the mainstream in many Islamic communities around the world", and is promoted by "religious figures, politicians, academics and journalists".[16][17]

Not all Islamic scholars accept Temple denialism. Imam Abdul Hadi Palazzi, leader of the Italian Muslim Assembly and a co-founder and a co-chairman of the Islam-Israel Fellowship, quotes the Quran to support Judaism's special connection to the Temple Mount. According to Palazzi, "[t]he most authoritative Islamic sources affirm the Temples". He adds that Jerusalem is sacred to Muslims because of its prior holiness to Jews and its standing as home to the biblical prophets and kings David and Solomon, all of whom he says are sacred figures also in Islam. He claims that the Quran "expressly recognizes that Jerusalem plays the same role for Jews that Mecca has for Muslims".[18]

Journalistic response[edit]

In 2009 James R. Davila, Professor of Jewish Studies and Principal of St Mary's College, St Andrews criticized the increasing practice among journalists of writing as though the existence of the ancient Jewish temples on the Temple Mount was a disputable question with two legitimate "competing narratives". According to Professor Davila, "reporters need to get it straight that there is no debate among specialists in specialist literature about the existence of the Iron Age II Judean Temple and the Second and Herodian Temples in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount platform. Again, narratives to the contrary are propaganda, not scholarship."[19]

In October 2015, the New York Times published an article stating that "The question, which many books and scholarly treatises have never definitely answered, is whether the 37-acre site, home to Islam's sacred Dome of the Rock shrine and al-Aqsa Mosque, was also the precise location of two ancient Jewish temples, one built on the remains of the other, and both long since gone."[20] Within a few days, the newspaper responded to feedback by changing the text to "The question, which many books and scholarly treatises have never definitively answered, is where on the 37-acre site, home to Islam’s sacred Dome of the Rock shrine and Al Aqsa Mosque, was the precise location of two ancient Jewish temples, one built on the remains of the other, and both long since gone."[21][22] A few weeks later, the newspaper further corrected the story, backdating the Islamic waqf that controls the site from 1967 to 1187.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hazony, David. "Temple Denial In the Holy City", The New York Sun, March 7, 2007.
  2. ^ Gold, pp. 10 ff.
  3. ^ Daniel Levin, Denial on the Temple Mount, The Forward, Oct. 23, 2009
  4. ^ "'EMBERS' OF TRUTH IN NEW THRILLER". Chicago Jewish News. August 14, 2009. Archived from the original on October 14, 2013. Retrieved December 2, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Were there Jewish Temples on Temple Mount? Yes - Israel News". Haaretz.com. Retrieved 2016-08-15. 
  6. ^ Shanks, Hershel (1995). Jerusalem, an Archaeological Biography. Random House. pp. 47–65. ISBN 978-0-679-44526-5. 
  7. ^ Mistrust Threatens Delicate Balance at a Sacred Site in Jerusalem, The New York Times, Nov. 22, 2014
  8. ^ A Brief Guide to al-Haram al-Sharif, a booklet published in 1925 (and earlier) by the "Supreme Moslem Council", a body established by the British government to administer waqfs and headed by Hajj Amin al-Husayni during the British Mandate period, states on page 4: "The site is one of the oldest in the world. Its sanctity dates from the earliest (perhaps from pre-historic) times. 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 Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.'(2 Samuel 24:25)"
  9. ^ Joshua Hammer. "What is Beneath the Temple Mount?". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved December 2, 2015. 
  10. ^ Gold, p. 11
  11. ^ Dennis Ross and Gidi Grinstein, reply by Hussein Agha and Robert Malley, "Camp David: An Exchange," The New York Review of Books, September 20, 2001
  12. ^ Brit Hume, Interview with Dennis Ross, Fox News Sunday, Fox News, April 21, 2002
  13. ^ Benny Morris, "Camp David and After: An Exchange (1. An Interview with Ehud Barak)," The New York Review of Books, June 13, 2002
  14. ^ The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the fight for Middle East Peace by Dennis Ross (2004, ISBN 0-374-19973-6), p. 718
  15. ^ Gold, p. 12
  16. ^ "From Jerusalem to Mecca and Back; The Islamic Consolidation of Jerusalem", Yitzhak Reiter, Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, 2005.
  17. ^ In the beginning was Al-Aqsa; A new study exposes the systematic Muslim denial of the existence of Solomon's Temple by clergymen, historians and statesmen. Some claim that the mosque was built in the times of Adam, Nadav Shragai, Haaretz, Nov. 27, 2005, [1]
  18. ^ Margolis, David (February 23, 2001). "The Muslim Zionist". Los Angeles Jewish Journal. 
  19. ^ "TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: The BBC is taking Jewish-Temple denial in Palestinian circles rather more seriously than it deserves," James R. Davila, Paleojudaica.com, June 2, 2009, [2]
  20. ^ Gladstone, Rick (8 October 2015). "Historical Certainty Proves Elusive at Jerusalem's Holiest Place (original version)". The New York Times. 
  21. ^ a b Gladstone, Rick (8 October 2015). "Historical Certainty Proves Elusive at Jerusalem's Holiest Place". Newspaper. The New York Times. Retrieved 14 October 2015. 
  22. ^ Ngo, Robin (13 October 2015). "Contested Temple Mount History?". Website. Bible History Daily. Retrieved 14 October 2015.