Whether out of cowardice or something darker, a number of journalists havelately come to refer to Jerusalem's Temple Mount by its Islamic name,despite the fact that the site was where Solomon's temple stood more than athousand years before Islam's founder's grandparents were even glints intheir own parents' eyes.
It is not only the antiquity of the Mount's connection to the Jewish peoplethat is trenchant here, but its intensity as well. Even after the Templeand its successor had been destroyed by foreign armies, Jews the world overcontinued--and continue--to venerate the significance of the site, prayingin its direction and (at least the Orthodox among us) for the Temple'srestoration by the hand of God.
The Islamic bond to the Mount is of much more recent appearance and fairlynewfound intensity. Over the many years Jerusalem was in Arab hands, nomajor Arab leader ever saw fit to even visit her, much less proclaim her acentral spot in the collective Arab heart.
Yet much of the press feels compelled to treat the Mount's Jewish roots andIslamic ones as equally deep and equally real. A recent example was NewYork Times' correspondent Joel Greenberg's characterization of the site asthat "of the First and Second Temples of the ancient Jews, sacred to Muslimsas the Noble Sanctuary, where Muhammad ascended to Heaven."
A subtle but astounding indignity lies in that clumsy attempt at politicalcorrectness.
That Jewish Holy Temples stood on the spot in question is historical fact,part of the unbroken millennia-old historical tradition of the Jewish peopleand corroborated by historians ancient and modern alike. To equate thathistorical truth with a legend is simply beyond bizarre.
The founder of Islam may or may not have traveled to heaven, or elsewhere,from Jerusalem; but there is certainly no historical evidence that he everleft the Arabian Peninsula, nothing but sectarian legend behind the claimthat he did.
That Arab and Islamic leaders and writers, sadly, have demonstrated uttercontempt for inconvenient facts of history is well documented. Theyregularly deny the fact of the Holocaust, and assert that Jews murdernon-Jews to gather their blood for Passover matzos (a recent such accusationappeared only recently in Al-Ahram, Egypt's leading newspaper and agovernment organ).
It should not surprise anyone that they are now tryingto deny the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount. In fact, that assault onhistory is taking place not only in word but in deed: The Waqf, the Islamicauthority that oversees the mosques currently on the Mount, has beenreported by archaeologists to be systematically excavating and destroyingrelics on the Temple Mount, presumably in an attempt to obscure signs of itsJewish character.
But for reporters to join that effort, however good their intentions orsubtle their words, is beyond justification and beyond comprehension.Journalism, after all, is supposed to be about presenting objective truths,not abetting malevolent lies.
Jewish tradition teaches that the highest response to personal adversity isthe determination to better oneself, and that the highest response tonational adversity is a similar determination on a national scale.
As we Jews regard the intensifying assault by our enemies on our history,and its widening acceptance by the larger world, we might do well to ponderwhether it may be a message to us that we have not been paying sufficientattention to that history ourselves.
Because our illustrious past, after all, contains not only a historicalaccount of the second and first Temple eras but of the very ground-zero ofthe Jewish people, God's revelation to us at Sinai. Might not ourdetermined reconnection to that event, our re-embrace of its mandate for ourpriorities and our lives, be the way to end the ongoing assault on ourhistory?