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October 04, 2002 - Image 31

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-10-04

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Save The Temple Mount

he Temple Mount in
Jerusalem — holiest spot on
earth for Jews and ranking
up there in sanctity also for
Christians and Muslims — may soon
come partly crashing down.
Despite appearances, the 35-acre
Temple Mount plateau is not a natural
formation but a man-made esplanade
built centuries ago by stacking one
large brick-like rock atop another.
The wall on one side might cave in
due to the fact that the Palestinian
Authority (PA.) has had administra-
tive control over the Temple Mount
since the mid-1990s and since then
has made many structural changes, all
aimed at increasing Muslim claims to
the site.
In particular, the P.A. converted a
long-disused space at the southern
end, known as Solomon's Stables, into
a mosque. In the process, it took
down some supports. These alterations
weakened the southern wall so that
227 square yards of the wall now
bulge out as much as 28 inches.
The P.A. professes no concern. "This
bulge is under our monitoring since


Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle
East Forum and author of Militant
Islam Reaches America.
E-mail: pipes@MEForum.org

the 1970s" and has neither grown nor
shifted in 30 years, says Adnan
Husseini, director of the Islamic reli-
gious authority (called the Wagf) that
oversees the Temple Mount. "It is sta-
ble," he says. "We don't feel that there
is any dangerous situation."
Knowledgeable Israelis beg to differ.
Already back in 2001, the Israel
Antiquities Authority (IAA) warned
that if not treated, the bulge would
cause the Temple Mount "irreversible
Today, their warnings are alarmed.
That wall is "in danger of collapse,"
says Shuka Dorfman, head of the IAA.
It certainly "will fall if nothing is done
about it," says Giora Solar, formerly of
the Getty Conservation Institute. "It
could collapse," says Jerusalem's Mayor
Ehud Olmert.
The wall "will collapse," warns Eilat
Mazar, an archaeologist at Hebrew
University. "The central issue at pres-
ent is whether it will collapse on the
heads of thousands of people who are
praying there, or whether it will be
done in a controlled manner."
The moment of truth might come
in November. That's the Ramadan
holiday, when thousands of Muslim
worshippers will aggregate in the
mosque at Solomon's Stables. Their
weight and movement could cause the
southern wall to give way, causing

yard-long rocks to come cas-
in Jerusalem — Ottoman,
cading down on them, possi-
British, Jordanian, Israeli —
bly killing many.
endorses the status quo, per-
Judging by prior incidents
mits precedent to hold sway,
in Jerusalem — the arson at
and stays out of the city's
al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969, the
many and hugely intractable
opening of a tunnel in 1996
religious disputes.
— this disaster would lead at
Thus, when Israel captured
least to wide-scale fighting in
the Temple Mount in 1967, it
Jerusalem and a heated inter-
permitted the Waqf to remain
national crisis. If things really
in charge there. The P.A. has
Spe cial
went wrong, it could precipi-
that deference of 35
Comm entary
tate a wave of violence in •
years ago to increase Muslim
Europe and a full-blown
claims to the Temple Mount,
Arab-Israeli war. It could also compli- notably by building the new mosque
cate the war on Iraq, obstruct the war at Solomon's Stables. That the Waqf
on terrorism, and jump the price of
denies any structural problems means
oil and gas. At worst, it could unleash the Israeli authorities just tip-toe away.
an end-of-days messianism (belief that
But they cannot afford to any
the Messiah is coming) in three
longer. At issue is not some squabble
monotheistic religions, with unfore-
over who gets to sweep which church
seeable consequences.
step or who gets which hours in a
The structural integrity of this
sanctuary; this is a disaster in the m k-
ancient wall is, in short, very serious
ing. As the Jerusalem Post correctly edi-
torializes, that the government of
And yet successive Israeli govern-
Israel has abdicated its responsibilities
ments, both Labor and Likud, have
is "nothing less than scandalous" and
abdicated their role, turning a deaf ear
it must now, however belatedly, "final-
to the increasingly anxious predictions.
ly assert its full sovereignty over the
Their insouciance has two main causes. area."
First, memories of 1969 and 1996
Governments around the world,
are enough to make any Israeli leader
Jewish organizations and others with
want to stay.away from Jerusalem holy influence over the Israeli prime minister
places. Second, it is a well-established
should get him to attend to the wall
tradition that the governing authority
before it and much else crashes. ❑


Has The Arab World Changed?

Washington, D.C.
he Jordanian foreign minis-
ter came to Washington the
other day to say that "the
Arab world" has changed •
its attitude toward Israel and has
adopted a peace proposal that
"addresses the needs of every Israeli
Marwan Muasher said, "We give
Israel everything they've ever want-
ed," including collective security
measures, normalized diplomatic and
trade relations, a compromise on the
refugee issue and an end-of-conflict
agreement promising no future
claims. Unfortunately, he suggested,
Israel is unwilling to accept "this


Douglas M. Bloomfield is a political
analyst and former executive director of
the American Israel Public Affairs
Committee. E-mail: dmb@his.com

Muasher, his country's first ambas-
sador to Jerusalem and most recent
envoy to Washington, was speaking
to the Council on Foreign Relations.
Similar messages have been delivered
by a parade of Arab leaders making
pilgrimages to Crawford, Texas;
Camp David, Md., and Washington,
D.C. The problem is that what they
say here is not what they're saying at
Jordan is, for the most part, a rare
exception. When its King Abdullah
II speaks abroad about making peace
with Israel, the message is broadcast
in full to the Hashemite Kingdom.
It's hard to take the peace plan
adopted at the Arab League summit
in Beirut last March very seriously in
light of the fact that Arab leaders are
doing nothing to sell peace with
Israel to their own people.
On the contrary, most of the Arab
populations have been told little if
anything about the plan's contents.

And the state-controlled
The man who takes credit
media continue to fan the
for this peace initiative,
flames of hatred against Jews,
Saudi Crown Prince
Israel and America, reports
Abdullah, refuses to discuss
the Anti-Defamation League,
it or anything else with any
which has been monitoring
Israeli and won't permit any
such things for years.
contact between his govern-
"If anything, it has inten-
ment and the Zionists. That
sified," said Stacy Burdett of DOUGLAS M. raises serious questions
BLOOMFIELD about his seriousness and
ADL's Washington office.
"We've documented ongo-
reinforces those who insist
ing anti-Semitic, anti-Israel
it is not a plan for peace
and anti-American incite-
with Israel but a PR ploy to
ment in the Arab press,
improve relations with
especially in Egypt and Saudi
The Arab media are filled with
No Friends
stories blaming Israel for 9-11, sug-
gesting it was a Zionist plot to dis-
One of the most popular Arab
credit Islam. Palestinian suicide
themes is the comparison of Israelis
bombers are glorified in the media,
to Nazis, along with Holocaust
on wall posters and bumper stickers
denial. In Egypt, Syria and Iraq, the
and in the mosques. Saudi telethons
press likes to compare President
have raised money for the bombers'
George W. Bush to Nazi Germany
BLOOMFIELD on page 33




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