In his piyut, Tzomoh Nafshi, the Ibn Ezra makes an assertion, which, considering that he lived in a Muslim dominated world, is bold indeed. Borrowing from Shlomo’s judgment between the two women who quarreled over the maternity of a living infant (I Melochim chap. 3), the Ibn Ezra describes the ancient controversy between Yitzchok and Yishmoel in similar terms, “See! To the true mistress the maidservant says: No, for your son is the dead one and my son the live one!” In other words, Islam is part of Yishmoel’s attempt to usurp the inheritance of Sarah’s offspring.
The Winged Lie
Yishmoel’s big lie of passing off a fiction as the genuine article includes a number of subsidiary falsehoods. One well-known example is the Muslims’ substitution of Yishmoel for Yitzchok in the Akeida story. Pilgrims to Mecca tread the path they imagine Avrohom followed on his way to sacrifice Yishmoel. En route, they pause to stone a pillar they believe is the ossified form of Satan when he attempted to persuade Avrohom to give up and go home. Restricted to the sandy wastes around Mecca, such identity fraud is relatively innocuous so far as the Jews are concerned.
Not so is another claim much closer to home: the Muslim claim to Har Habayis as part of their religion. Although their ridiculous claim of ownership of the Temple Mount has no direct source in their Scriptures, it is reinforced by their wish that it should be so. All Muslim Scripture says is that a mysterious winged horse once carried the founder of Islam on a nocturnal flight to the “farthest mosque,” which, objectively speaking, could be sited almost anywhere. But eventually Sunni Muslims decided that the “farthest mosque” refers to Har Habayis.
Therefore, Muslims consider the Temple Mount the third holiest site in Islam, with the result that it has become a political flashpoint of the Middle East and the entire world. Based on this claptrap, Palestinians scream in the streets, “We will sacrifice our blood and souls for you, Jerusalem.”
There is cruel irony in this. In earlier times the Bais Hamikdosh was the highpoint of the Chashmonaim’s victory over the Greeks and contributed to setting off the Bar Kochva revolt when Emperor Hadrian sacrificed pigs on its precincts. Now, the Arab world has hijacked this location as the highpoint of their struggle against the Jews. In a 2001 article Daniel Pipes, made the case that Arab reverence towards Yerushalayim is more political than religious.
“An historical survey shows that the stature of the city, and the emotions surrounding it, inevitably rises for Muslims when Jerusalem has political significance,” he writes. “When the utility of Jerusalem expires, so does its status and the passions about it.”
This pattern first emerged during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad in the early seventh century, he explains. Since then, it has been repeated on five occasions: in the late seventh century when Muslim rulers in Damascus were trying to play down the importance of Mecca, during the twelfth century and thirteenth century Crusades, during the era of British rule (1917-48), and since Israel took the city in 1967. At other times, the city is left to shrivel on the vine. Islam’s interest in Yerushalayim was first kindled when the new religion was interested in adding Jews to its roster. To draw in Jews, Mohammed instructed his flock to pray while facing Yerushalayim. When the Jews failed to rise to the bait, Mohammed ordered his followers to henceforth pray towards Mecca.
Muslim interest in Yerushalayim was kindled a second time, Pipes writes, when Mecca rebelled against the Damascus based Umayyad dynasty in 680. To offset Mecca’s influence, the Umayyad ruler Mu’awiya built Islam’s fi rst grand structure ever, the Dome of the Rock. Thirty-five years later, in 715, his dynasty constructed the smaller Al-Asqua Mosque, cunningly naming it the Furthest Mosque; this retroactively hooked it up to a strange story of the Koran where Mohammed sets off on a nocturnal jaunt to the unidentified Furthest Mosque, taken there by a winged horse named Baraq.
Faking the Wall
Besides linking the Temple Mount with the Koran, the clever nomenclature of the new mosque eventually led to the Islamation of the Western Wall in 1929, when a new version of Mohammed’s winged horse story claimed that he had tethered it to this particular wall during his nocturnal spree, in contrast to earlier interpretations of the story, which theorized that the horse was tied to the eastern or southern walls of Har Habayis. This linking of the steed to the Wall was a potent factor in the famous Muslim attempt to stop Jewish prayer at the Kossel during the British Mandate.
The 1930 report of the British commission determining the rights and claims of Muslims and Jews in connection with the Western Wall summarized the Muslim claim to the wall as follows:
“The sanctity of the Wall and of the passage in front of it is due to the fact that on the Prophet’s above mentioned journey his winged steed (Al Baraq) came there and was tethered to the Western Wall of the Haram.”
The Jews responded that past Muslim behavior indicated that their Western Wall claim was a recent fabrication:
“The Jews deny that the Wall, the Pavement in front of it, and the Moghrabi Quarter can be considered a Muslim Holy Place. According to the Jews, the Muslims themselves do not regard them so, because otherwise they would not have smeared the Wall with filth as the Jews state the Muslims have done on certain occasions, nor permitted the construction of a water closet close to the wall that is a direct continuation of the Wailing Wall to the south and also forms part of the exterior of the Haram.
“Furthermore, the route… was never, they allege, exactly defined, and it is only quite recently that the Muslims have begun to make out that the prophet passed by there and that his winged steed was tethered to an iron ring in the wall… Moreover, the Muslims did not, until recent years, call the Wailing Wall Al Buraq. The official guide to the Haram that was published by the Muslim authorities does not mention any special sanctity as inherent in the wall.”
Needless to say, the Muslims have never retracted from their spurious position, leading to non-stop accusations of the following genre: “It seems that Shimon Peres forgot or pretended to forget that the continued Israeli occupation of Al-Quds and Al-Aqsa Mosque is itself a worse violation than Jews entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque And he forgot or pretended to forget that the continued violation of the Al-Buraq Wall– which is part of the Al-Aqsa compound– and transforming its name to the ‘Wailing Wall,’ is itself a worse violation than Jews entering Al-Aqsa” (Advisor to the Islamic Movement in Israel on Jerusalem and Al- Aqsa Affairs, Ali Abu Shaikha, 2009). Due to Arab insistence that Har Habayis is theirs, Israel granted management of Har Habayis to an Islamic council known as the Muslim Waqf in 1967. Vocal prayer of non-Muslim visitors to the site is banned. Guards are known to scrutinize visitors to ensure that their prayers remain in their hearts while their lips remain still.
Destroying the Past
Worse was to come. There was a time when Muslims made no attempt to deny the past existence of the Bais Hamikdosh on Har Habayis. The 1925 offi cial guidebook of the Supreme Muslim Council in Yerushalayim writes that their mosque’s “identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute.”
In recent decades, however, committing a historical distortion no less than Holocaust denial, Muslims have taken to claim that Har Habayis was never the site of the Bais Hamikdosh. King Faisal of Saudi Arabia was the first to raise the claim in 1973, asserting that “the Temple of Solomon does not exist in Jerusalem.” Arafat made the same claim at Camp David in 2000. If so, what was this ancient, massive structure?
An ancient mosque dating from Adam and Chava, the Waqf authorities claim. Of course, this nonsense flies in the face of uncontroversial evidence such as the Mishnayos of Midos, which describe the site in detail, and endless archeological evidence such as the stone that crowned the south west corner of the Har Habayis wall bearing the words, “To the trumpeting place,” apparently indicating the place on the Temple walls where trumpets were blown to warn people of the impending arrival of Shabbos or Yom Tov.
In 1996, the Waqf began destruction of two underground mosques at the underground south side of the Mount known as Solomon’s Stables, perhaps because Crusaders used the area to stable their mounts. This is viewed as part of the Muslim attempt to hide the site’s Jewish past. To consolidate their bogus stance, the Waqf is wantonly destroying archeological treasures on the Mount while allowing no one else to drive a spade into its ancient rubble. No real archeological digs have ever been done on the site and most archeological knowledge of the place dates from nineteenth century surveys by Charles Wilson and other old time archeologists.
In October 1999, a rare opportunity arose to explore the Mount’s treasures after the Waqf illegally opened a new exit to the mosque and dumped thousands of tons of rubble in the Kidron Valley. Israeli archeologists moved nearly seventy truckloads of the rubble and sifted the earth heap by heap, uncovering a wealth of treasures that included ancient Jewish coins, Babylonian arrowheads from the first Churban, giant arrowheads launched by Roman catapults at the time of the second Churban, and floor slabs of a type Josephus describes as used for the Har Habayis floors.
All this is part of the wider Arab tactic of denying any Jewish attachment to Eretz Yisroel as stated in the Palestinian charter of 1964, article 18: “The claims of historic and spiritual ties, ties between Jews and Palestine are not in agreement with the facts of history or with the true basis of sound statehood.”
Unfortunately, Ibn Ezra’s dictum still holds true: “To the true mistress the maidservant says: No, for your son is the dead one and my son the live one!”