PROTECT THE TEMPLE MOUNT

Friends of Israel are being urged to support a campaign that aims to stop the desecration of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Among the groups campaigning to end the vandalism are the British Israel Coalition, British Muslims for Israel and Anglican Friends of Israel.

The Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, the trust that controls and manages the Temple Mount, is accused of desecrating Judaism’s holiest site. Illegal digging has destroyed historical remnants of Jerusalem’s Jewish history. Since the mid-1990s, the Waqf has carried out excavation work, drilled into ancient stones and painted over rare Jewish works at the site.

The Waqf has allowed illegal digging through the use of tractors, and thrown away valuable artifacts from the two Jewish Temples. Archaeologists have sifted through Waqf-sanctioned rubbish heaps and found decorated utensils from the King Solomon era, as well as coins and clay dating back to the second Temple.

Other Jewish religious sites under attack include Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem (Nablus) and the 3,000 year-old Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.

The Waqf also denies Jewish and other non-Muslim visitors to visit and worship freely on the Temple Mount. Jewish worshipers are discriminated against and harassed on a regular basis by the Waqf. The threat of anti-Jewish violence has left the Israeli authorities with little choice but to prevent Jewish worship on the Temple Mount.

Earlier this year, a young British Jewish student was accosted by Waqf officials, who demanded that he remove his yarmulke, which they said they found to be “offensive.” The student later told reporters that while he has experienced anti-Semitism in England, he “never thought that in Judaism’s holiest site I would be subjugated to such discrimination.”

It is clear that the Waqf is attempting to disconnect the people of Israel from its inheritance by either denying the presence of Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem or destroying evidence of its existence. This attempt to de-Judaize the Temple Mount cannot be allowed to continue.

Meanwhile UNESCO has done nothing to prevent such blatant cultural and historical vandalism. Not only is this shameful, it is a violation of its promise to “create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, based upon respect for commonly shared values.”

Historical treasures such as the Temple Mount must be protected regardless of politics and religious identification. The inaction of UNESCO in the face of this concerted vandalism of Jewish holy sites is utterly unjustifiable.

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