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Jewish World Review Jan. 14, 2002/ Rosh Chodesh Shevat, 5762

Richard Z. Chesnoff

Richard Z. Chesnoff
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Temple Mount desecration on Arafat's hands --
THERE'S nothing Yasser Arafat likes better than talking peace while planning war.

Witness the capture by the Israeli Navy of a shipload of 50 tons of terrorist arms bound for Gaza and his Palestinian forces.

The doublespeak even extends as far as Jerusalem's sacred sites.

For more than 30 years, Jerusalem's Islamic Religious Council, or Wakf, has campaigned to claim the Holy City's Temple Mount - the traditional site where Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac, where Solomon built his Temple and where Jesus prayed - as exclusively Islamic.

To justify this, Arafat's stooges simply deny history. The Palestinian leader's appointed mufti of the Al Aqsa mosque, Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, says, "The Jewish Temple was never there. There is not one bit of proof. We do not recognize that the Jews have any right to the [Western] Wall or to one inch of the sanctuary."

Worse yet, they are systematically destroying any evidence of historic Jewish and Christian presence on the Temple Mount, or Harim al-Sharif, as Muslims call it. The same Wakf that has forbidden legitimate archeologists at the mount has been carrying out its own illegal excavations for years. The prime target: Solomon's Stables, which during the Christian Savior's time were connected directly to the chambers of the Holy Temple.

Not one inch of the eastern section of the mount remains unscathed. Archeological remnants - some from the periods of the First and Second Temples - have been unearthed, hauled away or dumped into the valley below.

In their place, the Wakf has brought in newly hewn stones and paved over history, taking what between 515 B.C E. and C.E. 70 was part of the actual temple complex and converting it into an underground mosque.

Most alarming are reports that as a result of the shoddy diggings, the southeastern wall of the Temple Mount has begun to bulge and is in the intermediate stages of collapse.

Meanwhile, with Arafat's sanction, Wakf clerics continue to use the Temple Mount mosques as a pulpit from which to preach hatred against Jews, Christians "and other infidels."

This atmosphere of Islamic extremism is one of the prime reasons thousands of Palestinian Christians have felt forced to leave the Holy Land in recent years. The overall percentage of Christians in the Palestinian territories has dropped from 15% of the Arab population in 1950 to just 2% today. Bethlehem and Nazareth, once overwhelmingly Christian towns, now have strong Muslim majorities.

The message of anti-Jewish, anti-Christian hatred and desecration, which Arafat fosters, is no less a form of terrorism than Sudan's slaughter of Christian tribesman or the Taliban's destruction of centuries-old Buddhas.

It's time to stop him as well as them.

JWR contributor and veteran journalist Richard Z. Chesnoff is a senior correspondent at US News And World Report, a columnist at the NY Daily News and a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Demoracies. His latest book, recently updated, is Pack of Thieves: How Hitler & Europe Plundered the Jews and Committed the Greatest Theft in History.

Richard Z. Chesnoff Archives

© 2002, N. Y. Daily News