Editorials are posted and archived on JNonline.us .
ometime before the end of this
year, the United States will con-
vene a Middle East peace confer-
ence of some kind in Annapolis, Md. It's
too early to say much about the prospects
for success at the meeting because we
don't even know what the goals will be.
But recent comments from the former
mufti of Jerusalem don't give us much rea-
son for optimism.
"There was never a Jewish temple on Al-
Aqsa," said Ikrema Sabri, using the Muslim
name for the Temple Mount, "and there is
no proof that there was ever a temple."
The Western Wall, Sabri told the
Jerusalem Post, is just the western wall of
the mosque. "There is not a single stone
with any relation at all to the history of the
That's an astounding denial of history and
a frightening picture of the state of unreality
among the Palestinians. It's the kind of thing
Palestine Liberation Organization leader
Yasser Arafat used to claim.
How do you respond to someone who
makes such a ridiculous claim? Much like
Holocaust deniers, someone who denies
the existence of the ancient Temple is
putting hatred of the Jews ahead of the
truth — a truth backed by overwhelming
To deny the existence of the Temple, you
have to believe not only that the Jewish
Bible and the Christian Bible accounts of
the Temple contain nothing but lies and
fantasies, but also that the chroniclers of
the ancient Babylonians and Persians lied
about Jerusalem and that such Roman
authors as Josephus, Tacitus and Cassius
Dio joined the conspiracy.
You also have to ignore ever-mount-
ing physical evidence, which has come
despite repeated instances over the years
of Muslim authorities doing their best to
trash the archaeological record. The Waqf,
the Muslim organization that controls the
Temple Mount, may have inadvertently
uncovered remains of the Second Temple
during pipe work in August; and the Israel
Antiquities Authority reported in October
that the Waqf's unauthorized trench digging
exposed artifacts from the First Temple.
Of course, the most obvious evidence is
the Western Wall itself. The massive stones
of the wall date from late in the first cen-
tury B.C.E., when King Herod renovated
and expanded the Temple. The construc-
tion was 600 years before Muhammad
walked the earth, let alone ascended to
heaven, as Muslims believe, from the site
of the Dome of the Rock.
Still, if the former mufti and other
Palestinians want to believe a false history,
why should we care? We have enough anti-
Semitism and hatred to worry about in
Palestinian schools without fretting about
a phony version of ancient history, right?
The problem is twofold. First, every
falsehood contributes to the Palestinian
view of Israelis as interlopers who have
no roots in the Holy Land and could just
as easily make a homeland in Madagascar
or Alaska as the Middle East. Second, and
more immediate, the denial of the Temple
makes peace so much harder to attain.
Jerusalem is the ultimate obstacle to
a final Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
Although extremists on both sides
would fight it, an agreement can be
reached to carve out two states, Israeli
and Palestinian, side by side between the
Jordan and the Mediterranean. But neither
side is willing to surrender Jerusalem.
Israel might be able to grant some
autonomy to Arab neighborhoods
in Jerusalem — but not when the
Palestinians hold the attitude of Sabri: "No
Jews have the right to pray at the mosque.
... No Jewish prayer. If the Jews want real
peace, they must not do anything to try to
pray on Al-Aqsa. Everyone knows that."
What we know is if the Palestinians
want peace — and that is an open ques-
tion — they must accept free Jewish
access to the Temple Mount. '7_
Forever Chelm by Michael Gilbert
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A R TED
he television set arrived on a
chilly February morning in 1950,
about five months before my
little brother did. I was much more excited
about the TV.
For one thing it meant that we no longer
had to drive over to my Uncle Lou's house
to watch Milton Berle. It was documented,
by the way, that during commercial breaks
of that program the level in the Detroit
water system dropped precipitously
because all the toilets in town were flush-
ing at once. No one wanted to miss a min-
ute of Uncle Milty.
But, more than that, it brought the world
into our one-bedroom apartment. The
earliest memory I have of baseball, for
example, is watching the last game of the
1950 World Series, with the Yankee Stadium
crowd booing Casey Stengel for bringing in
a relief pitcher for Whitey Ford.
My first images of New York City and
how sophisticated men and women spoke
and behaved were formed then on the
tube. I would stay up with my
dad on Saturday nights and
watch him shake with laughter
at Sid Caesar.
I didn't fully understand what
was so funny about those paro-
dies of European movies and
American life when I was 9 years
old. That would come years later.
It was enough to share the expe-
rience with my father.
I couldn't have known it then,
but something also was lost when the big
eye came. I was part of the last age cohort
to be carried away by radio heroes. I can
remember lying on the living room floor
by the big console in the gathering gloom
of winter evenings. The dial was tuned
to Captain Midnight and Tom Mix and a
show I always listened to, for some reason,
called Tennessee Jed.
I had no clear image of what these peo-
ple looked like, although you could send
away for stuff that had their pictures on it.
But I was allowed to use my
Radio days had their rou-
tine. Maybe not as stringent
as going to watch Milton
Berle, but part of the week's
rhythm, just the same.
On Sunday afternoons we
would walk to my grand-
mother's house and listen to
One Man's Family as a family.
Kind of neat, as I recall. In
the morning, my mom would tune in The
Breakfast Club from Chicago, followed by
Jack Burch, "America's favorite whistlin'
My dad would listen to The Eternal
Light, which consisted of dramatizations
of Jewish life and Bible stories. And there
was an odd show about kids performing
songs while riding on a bus, which seemed
to appeal to him because he had worked
as a bus driver for a few years.
When the TV arrived, they all disap-
Jack Benny did make the leap to TV, and
I was surprised at how mild he looked.
His voice on the radio made him sound so
mean, and that's the image that persisted
in my ear. It also had never occurred to me
that he was Jewish, just like us.
I read a story about how one of his
Sunday evening shows was recorded in
California before an erev Yom Kippur for
broadcast later that evening. It upset him
that some people might think he was
working on the holy day.
"But, Jack," said his producer. "Your
Jewish listeners will all be in the synagogue
anyhow. They won't even hear the show."
"I'm not concerned about them," said
Benny. "It's what the gentiles might think."
Different times, when priorities were
clearer and heroes could be found all
across the radio dial.
George Cantor's e-mail address is
November 1 • 2007