What is the most common factually incorrect statement used by
the mainstream media? It crosses ideological lines. Both CBS and Fox News
state it. So do Reuters and the Washington Times. It has so pervaded popular
culture that the vast majority of people have no idea that this "fact" is a
canard. It is a falsehood with global implications.
What is this lie? That the Western Wall in Jerusalem is the
holiest site in Judaism. The holiest site in Judaism is not the Western Wall
but the area behind it: the Temple Mount, the site of the now-destroyed Holy
There were two Holy Temples that stood on that ground. The
first, built by King Solomon in 826 BCE, was destroyed in 423 BCE by the
Babylonians; most of the Jews were exiled. Seventy years later, the Jews
returned and rebuilt the Holy Temple. The Second Temple was destroyed by the
Romans in 69 CE; the Jews are still in exile. This exile will not end until
the Third Holy Temple is erected on the Temple Mount.
The Temple had two sets of walls: the outer, surrounding wall
constructed to guard the Temple and the inner wall, an actual part of the
Temple. The Western Wall, a remnant of the Second Holy Temple's outer wall,
is the only segment of the Second Temple left standing. It is holy only
because of what it used to protect; the Temple Mount is holy because of what
it is and will be -- the site of the Third Temple.
Muslims claim the Temple Mount as their own. Almost 1,500 years
after the building of the First Temple, they pronounced that the site was
holy to them. Then, they plopped the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque on
the site and started trashing Jewish artifacts in the hopes of removing any
remnant of Jewish presence. The Muslims erected the Dome of the Rock on the
ground once occupied by the Holy of Holies, a curtained room in the Temple
where the High Priest came face to face with the Divine, a place so holy
that even he could enter it only once a year on Yom Kippur.
This is typical. Any site of any value to anyone who is not
Muslim will eventually become a "holy site," targeted for mosque
construction. Muslims claim as holy sites the Church of the Nativity, Hindu
shrines in India, the sites of statues in Afghanistan, the Tomb of Joseph,
and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, among others. In all of these
places, Muslims either have razed or seek to raze existing structures and
build a mosque.
Why is this distinction between the Western Wall and the Temple
Mount important? The Islamic Waqf now control the activities on the Temple
Mount, and the Jews control the Western Wall. Jews are completely barred
from visiting the Temple Mount. The Muslims are in the process of destroying
Jewish antiquities on the Temple Mount and insist on the Temple Mount as
part of any peace settlement.
When the media portray the Temple Mount as the "third holiest
site in Islam" and do not mention that it is the holiest site in Judaism, it
makes it seem as though a political settlement handing over the Temple Mount
to the Muslims could be a real possibility -- and that a failure to reach
such a settlement stems from Jewish intransigence.
It doesn't. It stems from deep religious conviction and the
knowledge that one day the Third Temple will stand on the Temple Mount. Jews
have spilled their blood to defend the Temple Mount for millennia and
continue to do so today. In 1967, Moshe Dayan misguidedly handed day-to-day
control over the Mount to the Muslims. If any government gave away actual
sovereignty over the Temple Mount, there would be civil war in Israel.
Israel's far-left Labor Party furthers the confusion by
pretending that handing over the holiest site in Judaism is open to
negotiation. Likud does not. That is why Ariel Sharon's 2000 visit to the
Temple Mount was not "provocation" -- it was a statement that the Temple
Mount will always remain in Jewish hands.
Whether through error or purposeful misrepresentation, the media
skew the Middle East situation by calling the Western Wall, and not the
Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. This lie must end. When the Third
Temple is built on the Temple Mount, the world must know that it is not
Jewish usurpation of a Muslim holy site, but reclamation and redemption of
the holiest site in Judaism.