The New York Times has earned a well-deserved reputation for anti-Israel bias in its reporting on the Middle East, but a report contesting the universally accepted history of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount marks a new low. The headline declares “Historical Certainty Proves Elusive at Jerusalem’s Holiest Place” and questions whether either the first or second Temples described in the Bible actually stood on the Temple Mount. The report respectfully cites “many Palestinians” who “increasingly expressed doubt that the temples ever existed – at least in that location.” But the article all but ignores the surviving Western Wall, built at the edge of the Temple Compound by King Herod in the first century BC, or the ancient steps to the south that still lead up to the Temple Mount, or Robinson’s Arch, that connected the holy site to the street at the time of Christ.
During the Crusades, Christian knights took possession of Al Aqsa Mosque and called themselves “Templars” because the Mosque had been known to have been built on the ruins of Solomon’s Temple. As recently as 1923, the Islamic religious authorities, the Waqf, published a guidebook for Christian tourists describing the Temple Mount as the location of both ancient Temples. No other conclusion makes sense: the Temple Mount is a 39 acre site, flattened by human effort and supported by massive retaining walls that were built at least 600 years before the Moslems erected Al Aqsa and The Dome of the Rock. If this huge platform wasn’t the site of the Holy Temples, as nearly 100 generations have believed, what in heaven’s name was it?
But the New York Times is willing to neglect literally thousands of years of textual and archaeological evidence, specific references in both the Old and the New Testament, and even elements of Muslim and Crusader tradition, out of respect to Palestinian propagandists who “doubt” that these monumental structures ever existed. Their scurrilous article, by reporter Rick Gladstone, is an insult to intelligence, to decency, and to common sense.