by Farris Wahbeh
Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2002 at 10:54 PM
According to Israeli archeologists, the Haram al-Sharif, which houses the Muslim holy site of the Dome of the Rock, al-Aqsa Mosque, and a whole prayer center, is on the verge of collapse. Who is to blame? Israelis, Palestinians, or just old age? Is there even an answer, and is it politically motivated? Could it happen during the Muslim holy period of Ramadan.
It has been rumored throughtout Palestinian urban legend that the Harem al-Sharif, or the Temple Mount, is definitely going to come crashing down. Almost every Palestinian would attest to the Israeli excavations that prodded it’s downfall, the burrowing of hidden causeways, and the secret agendas. It seemed incurcumstantial for a long period, provided the harsh occupation, curfews, and overall tyranny of the Palestinian population. It is by no means coincidental, however, that the second intifada was spurred on by the fact that in Septermber of 2000Ariel Sharon attraversed the highly shrouded causeway that leads from the Muslim Quarter to the Wailling Wall right underneath the Temple Mount itself. Much speculation has sourrounded the actual facts of which entity was has been excavating the Islamic/Judaic sacred ground.
Historically, the area is a much prized piece of land, not only for the Muslims, but also the Jews, who are in hot pursuit to find the remaining Temples of Salomon in the area right underneath the Haram al-Sharif. Israelis claim that the entity known as al-Waqf, a Muslim trust responsibile for the areas up-keep, is responsible for the overall detriment of the area. Caiming that the Islamic religious superintendent has excavated the area right underneath the al-Aqsa mosque to showcase Salomons Stables found underneath the mosque area. Furthermore, many Israelis believe the entity is purposefully destroying archeological evidence that supports the existence of Salomon’s Temple. The existence of such a Temple would further substantiate Jewish claim to the land by producing physical evidence rather than pure scriptural evidence. Israelis believe that much of these excavations have caused the Temple Mount to disintegrate rapidly and, furthermore, to eradicate archeoogical evidence that a Jewish temple ever stood on the site.
In fact, many Jewish organizations and leading Israeli personalities, including Amos Oz, A.B. yehoshua, Haim Guri, and S. Izhar, have staged protests against the alleged destruction of the site. Israelis fear that an underground tunnel built by al-Waqf could potentially destroy the site. However, taccording to the Jerusalem Post in an article released February 1, 2001, the Jerusalem Police and the Public Security Ministry “issued a staement declaring that they completely reject the recent claims regarding excavations [by al-Waqf] pm tje Temple Mount. Furthermore,Israeli Archeology Professor Amos Kloner and Israeli poet Haim Guri, were invited to inspect the area to search for damaging Palestinian led digs and found nothing. According to Kloner in the Jerusalem Post, “If there was a tunnel, we would have seen it, we didn’t.” Palestinians, however, believe that the Israeli excavations, carried out by the State of Israel, who are in search of the skeletal remains of the Temple of Salomon, have caused the detoriation of the site. Palestinians also cite the underground tunnel leading from the Muslim quarter to the Western-Wailing Wall, that Israelis created for safer passage to the holy site with no regard to Muslims or the archeological well being of the area. Past Israeli activity around the Haram al-Sharif area has also been less than favorable to say the least. In an article by The Daily Star on July 30, 1968, the paper reveals that “over the obections of Muslim leaders, extensive excavations are being conducted under the wall of the al-Aqsa Mosque. Photographs indicate that the Israelis have demolished the historic seat of the Shafeis (a Muslim denomination) at the western entrance to the Mosque in order to extend the Wailing Wall and widen the excavation area.”
Many possible avenues of repair have been discussed, including the intervention of UNESCO, the Cultural sector of the U.N .that overlooks the rehabilitation and restoraton of sites pertinent to human civilization. However, as Barbara DeMick points out in the Los Angeles Times on October 29, 2002, Israel “might object to involvement by the U.N. agency, with which it has had a contentious relationship”. It is alarming, however, when Gabriel Baraki, an Israeli archeologist, proclaimes that “I can’t say exactly when, but there is no question that it will collapse”. Moreover, a group of Jewish archeologists is warning, and estimating, that a “35 foot-wide bulge in the complex’s [the Haram al-Sharif] south-eastern supporting wall is in serious danger of rupturing. Ac accident could prove expecially deadly if it happened during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins around Nov. 6 and is expected to draw up to 200,000 worshipers to the site”. It is rather odd that an Israeli archeological entity would estimate such a calamity around the expected time of Ramadan. Should this be seen as a possible prophetical threat to an international relgious monument, to the muslims, or to the world community at large? Or, as Adnan Husseini director of the al-Waqf trust sees it, as a joke? “It is all politics. this is something that we are able to fix, but Israelis want to use this to create more tension in the atmosphere.” When fact, fiction, history, oral tradition, and politiclal agendas intermingle, the result turns into a hotbed of theoretical conspiracy. Could it be possible that the Israeli government, headed by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, is planning a demolition of the Haram al-Sharif in anticipation of Ramadan? Are Palestinians blatantly discarding archeological evidence supporting the theory of Salomon’s Temple? Who are we to believe? What is going to happen? What are we to do?