History by The Wishing Well
Battle lines have long been drawn on the issue of whether the Holocaust was fact or fiction. Anti-Semitic historical revisionists have labored tirelessly to twist their absurd denials of this profound tragedy into some semblance of reality for people who are equally as demented and filled with hatred as they. Fortunately, they have failed to sell their fictional brand of wishing-well history to lucid people who know better. The lines of emaciated victims, piles of withered corpses, and meticulous records kept by the managers of Hitler’s killing machines fully expose the big lie of revisionism.
With the turn of the millennium, however, comes a new and equally insidious rewrite of history that reaches far beyond the confines of the Jewish community and assaults all of us who regard the preservation of historical accuracy as a sacred trust. Not surprisingly, this latest attempt to establish fiction as fact again involves the history of the Jewish people. At issue are ancient Jewish associations with Mount Moriah, commonly known as the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem.
During the Camp David negotiations last year, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and American intermediaries offered a plan to share sovereignty of the Mount or declare it under “divine sovereignty.” Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat flatly refused the offer.
In an article titled “Power of the Myth,” which apeared in the November 20 issue of The New Republic, Gershom Gorenberg wrote,
Arafat’s sole concession was to suggest “Islamic sovereignty” under the Islamic Conference Organization. . . . The Palestinians refused to acknowledge any Jewish connection to the site, a position that exasperated even left-wing Israelis. It made the denial of Jews’ historical roots to their homeland into the central Palestinian negotiating point. By dismissing the Jewish past, Arafat focused Israeli public attention on the Mount and invited Ariel Sharon to use the spot’s symbolism for his own statement of ownership.
Fact Versus Fantasy
Two thousand years ago, the historian Josephus described the Jewish Temple as it stood before it was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70.
Viewed from without, the Sanctuary had everything that could amaze either mind or eyes. Overlaid all around with stout plates of gold, in the first rays of the sun it reflected so fierce a blaze of fire that those who endeavored to look at it were forced to turn away as if they had looked straight at the sun. To strangers as they approached it seemed in the distance like a mountain covered with snow; for any part not covered with gold was dazzling white.1
In Rome today you can see evidence of the destruction of Israel’s ancient, sacred edifice in an arch depicting Caesar’s triumph over the Jews. Roman legionnaires are shown carrying vessels on their shoulders from the Temple at Jerusalem. There is reason to believe that the menorah from that Temple may be stored somewhere in the Vatican.
History attests that the Jewish people were evicted by force from the holy Mount that King David purchased from Araunah the Jebusite millennia ago.
And King David said to Ornan, [Araunah], Nay, but I will verily buy it for the full price; for I will not take that which is thine for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings without cost. So David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold by weight. And David built there [on Mount Moriah] an altar unto the LORD (1 Chr. 21:24–26).
After the Roman destruction of the Temple and the scattering of the Jewish people, the Temple Mount was under occupation by various Gentile powers. They included the Muslim forces that seized it and the city of Jerusalem by weight of arms in A.D. 637. Gentile occupation continued until June 1967 when Jewish soldiers regained control of the city and the Mount.
Despite these facts, Yasser Arafat and other Muslims who are dedicated to the total supremacy of Islam over Judaism and Christianity are working on two fronts to discredit Jewish claims to the site. They contend the Jewish people have never had a serious or prolonged presence on the sacred mountain. The assertion, of course, is preposterous—as preposterous, in fact, as Holocaust revisionism. But in the world of Islam, where rhetoric is more forceful than fact, the absurd is often a marketable product. Add to this situation the historical illiteracy afflicting much of a credulous Western society, and you have a world where lies, as in the Hitlerian era, become volatile and destructive commodities.
To establish an identity that is exclusively Arab for the area historically known as the Temple Mount, Arafat is up to his old tricks. Not many years ago, he chose to call Arabs living in Palestine by a new name. Rather than being Arabs with homes in Palestine, he determined they would henceforth be called Palestinians. This move, he reasoned, would create a perception that the Arabs were the ancient inhabitants of the land, whereas the Jews were Hebrews-come-lately into the territory of the people akin to the ancient Philistines. In fact, however, the vast majority of Arabs in Palestine had been there no longer than their Jewish neighbors who were known as Jews who lived in Palestine, or, if you choose, Palestinian Jews. The ploy was swallowed completely by the Western media, which have perpetuated it to the advantage of the Arab world ever since.
And now they are perpetuating a new ploy. After being known for 3,000 years as the site of Israel’s Temples, the Temple Mount has emerged with a new name. The Palestinians and much of the Western media have suddenly begun to refer to the Temple Platform as Haram al-Sharif, the Arabic name for the Temple Mount. This well-calculated change came at the very time Palestinian negotiators began to demand exclusive rights and control of the Temple Mount and East Jerusalem.
Destroying the Evidence
Under the guise of providing space for a mosque on the Temple Mount, Palestinians have carted off tons of earth containing artifacts that Israeli archaeologists (who have been banned from the site) say come from the first and second Temple periods. These experts in digging up history are mystified as to why the Barak government is allowing such wholesale desecration to continue. There is no mystery, however, concerning the intent of the excavators and their leaders. The Palestinians are blatantly attempting to destroy as much physical evidence as possible of the Jewish presence on the Mount.
When Yasser Arafat, in an attempt to ingratiate himself and his cause to Christians, recently referred to Jesus walking the streets of East Jerusalem, he implied that the Lord walked where Palestinians will soon be directing the affairs of their future state. Ehud Olmert, Israel’s mayor of Jerusalem, was ready with an answer. He stated, and accurately so, that when Jesus walked the streets of ancient Jerusalem, He would have seen no Dome of the Rock or Al-Aqsa mosques on the Temple Mount. Nor would He have seen a mosque anywhere in all of Israel. He would have seen a Jewish Temple on Mount Moriah and scores of synagogues dotting the landscape. As a matter of fact, Islam did not come into existence for another six hundred years.
Jerusalem, furthermore, is not mentioned even once in the Muslim holy book, the Quran. Islam’s claim to sovereignty over the Temple Mount is based solely on a tradition that Muhammad’s “winged” steed touched down there on the way to paradise, thus making Jerusalem the third holiest site for Muslims. And while Islam’s heart is in Arabia’s Mecca and Medina, Jewry’s heart longs for Jerusalem, which is deeply enshrined in both history and the Word of God. The Scripture says it best.
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 prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy (Ps. 137:5–6).
Implications Too Large to Ignore
To some, the foregoing discussion may mean little more than quibbling over semantics and a pile of dusty stones. For Jewish people and Christians, however, the implications are much more serious. The intent of the Palestinians and the Muslim world is clear. They regard both Christians and Jews as inferior infidels who have no right to any area that Islam calls sacred. This, of course, means Israel and every grain of sand in the East and elsewhere. The orchestrated Arab uproar that ensued after Israeli official Ariel Sharon set foot on the Temple Mount last fall spoke volumes about what we can expect if and when a Palestinian state comes to fruition. East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount will be returned to the pre-1967 era when the barbed wire fences, by their very presence, said, “No Jews Allowed.”
But the gravity of what confronts us has a still deeper, more serious aspect that we can ill afford to ignore. If, in fact, the Jewish people never had a significant attachment to the Temple Mount, then biblical Judaism perpetrated a lie and, for thousands of years, practiced a most despicable deception. In addition, the revered records of the New Testament, transmitting the knowledge of Jesus’ extended ministries at the grand Herodian Temple in Jerusalem, would be a fabrication; and Christianity would have to join Judaism as a shameless purveyor of myth and spiritual skullduggery.
The conclusion is obvious. If Jews and Christians fabricated their tales of the Temples and the centrality of those edifices to legitimate relationships to God, then both religions would be discredited. If this were the case, the only major religion left, of course, would be Islam. And since Muslims already regard Islam as the only true religion, this coup would seal the final phase of their centuries-long jihad against their rivals.
- The warfare now being conducted with such ferocity in Israel and the Middle East is not merely a confrontation between two groups of people with unbending, selfserving agendas.
- As the Word of God constantly reminds us, this is a spiritual warfare that will intensify until the Messiah makes His decisive appearance and settles all scores.
- As Christians, we must be discerning and not allow the media or politicians to sway our commitment to Israel and the Jewish people despite the constant, dishonest, and manipulative depiction of Israel as the persecutors of helpless Arabs. n Our defense of the integrity of the Word of God, both Old and New Testaments, is critical in these days of denial.
- We must be biblically literate discerners of the times and be prepared to fight the good fight in these last days.