Palestinians Used Ramadan as Cover for Destroying Jewish Artifacts on the Temple Mount

June 22 2018

During Ramadan—which concluded last week—the Temple Mount is closed to non-Muslims and there is only a limited police presence there. Taking advantage of this situation, the Jordanian-run religious authority responsible for the Islamic holy places on the Mount, known as the waqf, cleared away mounds of dirt and rubble that contain valuable archaeological artifacts. These mounds had resulted from earlier, deliberate attempts by the waqf to destroy archaeological sites, eventually brought to an end by an order from Israel’s supreme court. The Temple Mount Sifting Project, which has been working for years to recover artifacts from these areas, explains the situation:

[T]he Muslim waqf [has] move[d] the remaining mounds of soil that were originally excavated in 1999 and the early 2000s, along with the material we have been sifting. This material contains a huge number of artifacts from all periods of the history of the Temple Mount, including the First and Second Temple periods. . . . Yet, . . . illegally, the waqf, with dozens of volunteers and workers, carried out excavation work [and] earth and stone clearance on the Temple Mount. . . .

Stones were collected [from the mounds] and used to build terraces and little walls to outline new walkways. . . . [T]here are four places where the waqf not only “cleaned” the mounds on the surface, but yet again dug into their interiors. This was clearly [done to] show who is in control, and a message from the waqf to the world that they don’t need permission from Israel to do anything on the Temple Mount, and that no one can stop them. The video from last week also showed ancient slabs being sorted and removed from the mounds. Who knows what else was discovered, and what else we won’t be able to study from this unsupervised work. . . .

[T]hese archaeologically rich mounds of earth have been irreconcilably damaged. This is a clear violation of the law, a violation of basic morality and respect, and an absolute destruction of the heritage of Jews as well as Christians and Muslims. This constitutes a decade’s worth of regression in the level of enforcement of [Israeli] antiquities law.

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More about: Archaeology, Israel & Zionism, Ramadan, Temple Mount

 

By Recognizing Israeli Sovereignty over the Golan, the U.S. Has Freed Israel from “Land for Peace”

March 25 2019

In the 52 years since Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria, there have been multiple efforts to negotiate their return in exchange for Damascus ending its continuous war against the Jewish state. Shmuel Rosner argues that, with his announcement on Thursday acknowledging the legitimacy of Jerusalem’s claim to the Golan, Donald Trump has finally decoupled territorial concessions from peacemaking:

[With] the takeover of much of Syria by Iran and its proxies, . . . Israel had no choice but to give up on the idea of withdrawing from the Golan Heights. But this reality involves a complete overhaul of the way the international community thinks not just about the Golan Heights but also about all of the lands Israel occupied in 1967. . . .

Withdrawal worked for Israel once, in 1979, when it signed a peace agreement with Egypt and left the Sinai Peninsula, which had also been occupied in 1967. But that also set a problematic precedent. President Anwar Sadat of Egypt insisted that Israel hand back the entire peninsula to the last inch. Israel decided that the reward was worth the price, as a major Arab country agreed to break with other Arab states and accept Israel’s legitimacy.

But there was a hidden, unanticipated cost: Israel’s adversaries, in future negotiations, would demand the same kind of compensation. The 1967 line—what Israel controlled before the war—became the starting point for all Arab countries, including Syria. It became a sacred formula, worshiped by the international community.

What President Trump is doing extends far beyond the ability of Israel to control the Golan Heights, to settle it, and to invest in it. The American president is setting the clock back to before the peace deal with Egypt, to a time when Israel could argue that the reward for peace is peace—not land. Syria, of course, is unlikely to accept this. At least not in the short term. But maybe someday, a Syrian leader will come along who doesn’t entertain the thought that Israel might agree to return to the pre-1967 line and who will accept a different formula for achieving peace.

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More about: Donald Trump, Golan Heights, Israel & Zionis, Peace Process, Sinai Peninsula, Syria