By Rachel Avraham, Jerusalem Online—
As Jews around the world mourned the destruction of the First and Second Temples on Tisha B’Av, Palestinian Media Watch has exposed that the Palestinian Authority has systematically denied that such a temple ever existed. PA Deputy Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Salwa Hadib proclaimed: “Jerusalem is not only a religious city. Jerusalem is a civilization. It has been a Canaanite city for thousands of years. The Palestinian people have been present in it for thousands of years, whether it was in Babylon, Assyria or Canaan; they gathered in the area before anyone else, centuries before the Jewish religion… An Israeli engineer and an archaeologist brought Israeli coins – shekels and agoras – and threw them on the ground before the renovation in order to prove, after dozens and hundreds of years, that ‘we (i.e., the Israelis) were present here.’ They are stealing history and geography.”
According to a reporter for PA TV, “The occupation authorities are working incessantly to change the character of occupied Jerusalem. The Judaization octopus is spreading to devour what is left of the historic sites that left their mark on the city for thousands of years. One of those sites is the Silwan Spring (i.e., Gihon Spring), which the occupation later turned into Talmudic walking trails.” The Neighborhood Defense Committee added: “5,000 years ago, the Jebusite and Canaanite Arabs came and founded Jerusalem… The Jews understood the history and significance of this historic landmark, and wanted to impose a Biblical-Talmudic-Jewish story on this place, in order to falsify facts and prove that they have a past and a history in this area.”
Additionally, PA TV declared that “the Jews conquered it along with Jerusalem . From then on, there have been plans to Judaize and to erase Arab and Muslim antiquities through tunnel excavations and theft of antiquities, and by fabricating a fake Jewish name, such as the ‘City of David.’ Through these evil projects, the Israeli occupation seeks to restore the alleged Kingdom of David and to build his palace there, in order to achieve its evil goal: Full control over the Al-Aqsa Mosque and building the alleged Temple in its place.” A narrator on PA TV referred to the Tower of David Museum, which documents the history of Jerusalem from antiquity till the Jordanian period, as a “Judaizing museum” that destroyed “a number of ancient Islamic relics” in order to tell the story of an “alleged temple.”
The City of David is an archaeological park in the Silwan neighborhood that sheds light on the historical remains of Jerusalem dating back from antiquity. They operate entirely legally with the permission of the Israeli authorities and showcase all of their findings to the Israeli public. They don’t stash away what they find and present all of their archeological facts in a scientific mandner. As for the Tower of David Museum, PA TV did not mention that they have an entire wing devoted to the Islamic heritage of Jerusalem inside what used to be a Jordanian mosque in addition to sharing with viewers about previous periods in Jerusalem’s history starting with the second millennium BCE onwards. Aside from sharing with viewers the history of the two temples, they also show viewers the history of the Romans, the Byzantines, the Arabs, the Crusaders, etc. This fact did not stop the PA press from making false accusations against Israel that accuse her of lying about the existence of a Jewish Temple within the country, as well as the Kingdom of David and Jewish history in the area in general.
“The Silwan Spring (Gihon Spring) is a natural water spring, used as a primary water source of ancient Jerusalem,” Palestinian Media Watch explained. “The spring is located in the City of David national park, in the area of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. The pool seems to have been dug and first been in use during the First Temple Period (circa 1000 – 586 BCE). The pool was expanded during the Second Temple period (530 BCE – 70 CE) as part of Jerusalem’s elaborate water system, but went out of use following the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. A Byzantine church and an additional pool were built at the site in the 5th century CE.”
“The PA term ‘Arab-Palestinian-Canaanite’ is an anachronism,” they noted. “Canaan is a biblical name for the land of Israel dating back to the second millennium BCE. The name ‘Palestine’ was only used much later in the 2nd century CE, after the Romans changed the name of Judea/Israel to ‘Palaestina’ to punish the Jewish nation for their revolt. The Arab conquest of the area only took place in the 7th century CE.”
It has been noted that Muslims in the past have recognized Jewish historical attachments to the Land of Israel and to the Temple Mount. According to GLORIA: the Global Research in International Affairs: “In Sura 17:1 of the Koran, the ‘Farthest Mosque’ is called the al-masjid al-Aqsa. Tafsir al-Jalalayn, a well-respected Sunni exegesis of the Koran from the 15th and 16th centuries, noted that the ‘Farthest Mosque’ is a reference to the Bayt al-Maqdis of Jerusalem. In Hebrew, the Jewish Temple is often referred to as the Beyt Ha-Miqdash, nearly identical to the Arabic term.”
Furthermore, GLORIA noted, “In the commentary of Abdullah Ibn Omar al-Baydawi, who authored several prominent theological works in the 13th century, the masjid is referred to as the Bayt al-Maqdis because during Muhammad’s time no mosque existed in Jerusalem. Koranic historian and commentator, Abu Jafar Muhammad al-Tabari, who chronicled the seventh century Muslim conquest of Jerusalem, wrote that one day when Umar finished praying, he went to the place where ‘the Romans buried the Temple at the time of the sons of Israel.’”
According to Robert Spencer, writing in the Middle East Forum, British-based Imam Sheikh Muhammad Al-Hussaini stated, “You will find very clearly that the traditional commentators from the eighth and ninth century onwards have uniformly interpreted the Koran to say explicitly that Eretz Yisrael has been given by G-d to the Jewish people as a perpetual covenant. There is no Islamic counterclaim to the Land anywhere in the traditional corpus of commentary.”
Spencer cited that Hussaini bases his argument upon Qur’an 5:21 in which Moses declared: “O my people, enter the Holy Land which G-d has prescribed for you, and turn not back in your traces, to turn about losers.” He then referred to classical Qur’an commentator Muhammad ibn Jarir at-Tabari (838-923), who explained that this statement is “a narrative from God … concerning the saying of Moses … to his community from among the children of Israel and his order to them according to the order of God to him, ordering them to enter the Holy Land.”
In 1930, the Supreme Muslim Council published an English language tour guide for the Al Aqsa Mosque where they themselves stated: “The site is one of the holiest in the world. Its sanctity dates from the earliest times. It’s identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute. This too is the spot according to the universal belief upon which David built an alter to the Lord, offering burnt offerings and peace offerings.” It was only after the 1967 war did the Muslim leaders in Israel begin to deny that the Al Aqsa Mosque was built on top of what used to be King Solomon’s Temple and to argue that there is zero Jewish history in the area dating back to antiquity.
To date, there is virtually no proof that the Palestinians have any historic connection to the ancient Canaanites, Jebusites, and other ancient pagan peoples of the Holy Land. The American archeologist Eric Cline reported in his book Jerusalem Besieged: “Although some would disagree, historians and archeologists have generally concluded that most, if not all, modern Palestinians are probably more closely related to the Arabs of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, and other countries than they are to the ancient Jebusites, Canaanites, or Philistines. The major movements of those Arabs into the region occurred after 600 CE, more than 1,600 years after David and the Israelites had vanquished the original inhabitants of the land.” This fact is confirmed by Sherif Hussein, the Guardian of Islamic Holy Places of Arabia, who stated that the Palestinians ancestors had only been in the region for 1,000 years.
American journalist Joan Peters believes that the roots of the Palestinians in the region is even more recent: “The claim that Arab Muslim Palestinians were emotionally tied to their own plot of land in Palestine based upon a consistent presence on Arab land for thousands of years is an important part of that recent mythology. It was contrived of late in a thus far successful Orwellian propaganda effort, an appeal to the emotions that would counter Zionism and that serves tactical purposes as a tool in the continuing battle against Israel, as the late PLO official Zuheir Muhsin stated candidly in an interview. In Palestine, the small number of Arab invaders who had been imported were wiped out by disease. Thus the myth of the Palestinian Arabs descending from the Arab conquerors appears to be factually incorrect for all but perhaps a few.”
She noted that the Arabs ruled over mostly Christian and Jewish subjects during their brief rule of the area. Following the Crusader massacres alongside famine, disease and war decimating the population, Kurds and Turks were introduced to the region alongside other peoples. Peters claimed that the land remained sparsely populated up until Jewish immigration to the land due to the difficult conditions in the area, but that various peoples nevertheless migrated there and many of them were not Arab: “Among the peoples who have counted as indigenous Palestinian Arabs are Balkans, Greeks, Syrians, Latins, Egyptians, Turks, Armenians, Italians, Persians, Kurds, Germans, Afghans, Circassians, Bosnians, Samaritans, Algerians, Motawila, and Tartars.”
Peters concluded therefore that a sizable Arab population could only have existed in the Holy Land via migration to the area and given the numerous times the land was laid waste, one can only conclude that “the routine of multi-ethnic Muslims and Christians had been imported either by various conquerors or through traditional migratory patterns, where they had met with omnipresent Jewish and Christian inhabitants. All of this has been well documented. That they were Arabs who had been here for thousands of years or even hundreds as a consistent presence in Palestine is known to be inaccurate.”
Some have argued that the majority of Gaza’s residents are of Egyptian heritage. According to Hamas leader Mushir Al Masri, “Every Palestinian in Gaza and throughout Palestine can prove his Arab roots, whether from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, or anywhere else. We have blood ties. Personally, half of my family is Egyptian. We are all like that. More than 30 families in the Gaza Strip are called Al Masri. Brothers, half of the Palestinians are Egyptian and the other half are Saudi.”
Still others argue that the Palestinians have Jewish roots. According to an interview in the Jewish Press, a Palestinian living in Jerusalem who wished to remain anonymous has confessed that this persons’ family origins are 100% Jewish and that this person’s father’s family were Cohanim. He proclaimed: “Most of the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria are former Jews. The Ottomans converted them by force. My family converted to Islam in the early 1900’s.” Regardless, whether the Palestinians are recent migrants, Arab residents of the holy land for about 1,000 years, or were forceful converts that left Judaism, no evidence can link them to the ancient Canaanites whose existence in the land predates the Jews, a fact that some Palestinians are willing to acknowledge.
As the famous historian Rashid Khalidi proclaimed, there is a tendency to “read back into the history of Palestine over the past few centuries and even a millennia, a nationalist consciousness and identity that are in fact relatively modern. Among the manifestations of this outlook are a predilection for seeing in peoples such as the Canaanites, Jebusites, Amorites, and Philistines the lineal ancestors of modern Palestinians.” Thus, as Hebrew University geographer Yehoshua Ben-Arieh concluded; the insistence by certain scholars that the Palestinians are “direct descendants of Canaanites is driven by a political objective” that has nothing to do with historical reality.