Another Outrageous Claim By Arafat: Ancient Jewish Temple Was In Nablus, Not Jerusalem
May 21, 2002

NEW YORK – Yasir Arafat has been circulating yet another bizarre allegation, claiming that the ancient Jewish Temple did not stand in Jerusalem, but rather in Nablus (Shechem).

Arafat made the allegation during the July 2000 Camp David talks, according to U.S. envoy Dennis Ross, who was present when Arafat spoke. Ross has now revealed: “He did offer one new idea, which was that the Temple didn’t exist in Jerusalem, that it was in Nablus.” (Jerusalem Post, May 15, 2002)

Earlier statements by Arafat and other PA officials attempting to delegitimize Judaism and Jewish history:

* “Jews never had any connection to Jerusalem.” In a statement issued Dec. 10, 1997, the PA’s Ministry of Information claimed that archaeological excavations in the Old City have found “Umayyad Islamic palaces, Roman ruins, Armenian ruins and others, but nothing Jewish.” The Ministry also falsely claimed that “there is no tangible evidence of any Jewish traces/remains in the old city of Jerusalem and its immediate vicinity.”

* “The Tombs of Rachel and Joseph are actually Muslim sites.” The PA newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah published an article in its issue of Dec. 1, 1997, which declared: “I call to be alert and to treat the Tomb of Joseph and the Tomb of Rachel as dunams of Palestinian land which must be liberated, and to treat Joseph and Rachel as just two people who died, like anyone else who dies.”

Similarly, the Israeli daily Ha’aretz quoted Palestinian Authority officials as saying that “Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem is the traditional tomb of the Cushite servant of Mohammed.” (Ha’aretz, Oct. 9, 1996)

* “The Western Wall is not a Jewish holy site.” The Arafat-appointed Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Ikrama Sabri, who is the PLO’s senior religious authority for the city, said: “The Al-Buraq Wall [Western Wall] and its plaza are a Muslim religious property, and the Israeli government’s decisions do not affect it…The Al-Buraq Wall is part of the Al Aqsa Mosque. The Jews have no relation to it.” (Al Ayam, Nov. 22, 1997)

Arafat’s Minister of Religious Affairs, Hassan Tahboob, said: “The Al-Buraq wall is Muslim property and it is part of the Al Aqsa Mosque of course.” Tahboob said that in accordance with a Muslim religious court decision in 1929, Jews “are allowed to pray towards the Wall,” but they must remain “two meters [six feet] away from the Wall” and not touch it. (Interview with the Israeli news agency IMRA, Nov. 23, 1997)

Yasir Arafat himself remarked: “That is not the Western Wall at all, but a Moslem shrine.” (Ma’ariv, Oct. 11, 1996)

* “The Jews never lived in ancient Israel.” A program broadcast on Palestinian Authority Television in June 1997 featured Palestinian Arab historian Jarid al-Kidwa, who claimed that “all the events surrounding Kings Saul, David and Rehoboam occurred in Yemen, and no Hebrew remnants were found in Israel, for a very simple reason—because they were never here.” Al-Kidwa said: “Most of the Khazars [a Turkish tribe that converted to Judaism in medieval times] are the Ashkenazic Jews who arrived in Palestine. As Allah is my witness, in my blood flows more of the Children of Israel and the ancient Hebrews than in the blood of Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu.” According to the Israeli daily Ha’aretz (July 6, 1997),

Al-Kidwa also said: “The stories of the Torah and the Bible did not take place in the Land of Israel—they occurred in the Arabian peninsula, primarily in Yemen. The identity of our father Ibrahim [Abraham] who is mentioned in the Koran is clear. From the Koran’s description of him it arises that he lived in the southern Hejaz [Saudi Arabia], near Mecca.”

* “Jerusalem was never a Jewish city.” “Jerusalem is not a Jewish city, despite the biblical myth implanted in some minds…There is no tangible evidence of Jewish existence from the so-called ‘Temple Mount Era’…The location of the Temple Mount is in question…it might be in Jericho or somewhere else.” (Walid M. Awad, Director of Foreign Publications for the PLO’s Palestine Ministry of Information, interviewed by the IMRA news agency, Dec. 25, 1996.)

* “Abraham was not a Jew.” “Abraham was neither Jewish nor a Hebrew, but was simply an Iraqi. The Jews have no right to claim part of the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, Abraham’s resting place, as a synagogue. Rather, the whole building should be a mosque.” (Arafat, quoted in the Jerusalem Report, Dec. 26, 1996)

* “There never was a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.” “The people of Israel realize perfectly well that they have no temples or ruins near Al Aqsa Mosque. According to the Koran, the people of Israel lived somewhere to the west of Bethlehem…they were living in Bethlehem and not in Jerusalem.” (Sheikh Ismail Jamal, the PLO’s Director of the Islamic Wakf in Jericho, quoted in the Chicago Jewish Sentinel, May 18, 1995)

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