Editorial, 16 February 2019
Good news, bad news.
The good news first.
Anyone with rudimentary knowledge of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict knows that the Dome of the Rock, aka Noble Sanctuary (“Haram el Sharif”) in Old Jerusalem is ground zero of the century-old clash between Palestinians and Israelis. The golden-domed Noble Sanctuary is believed to be where King Solomon built his temple (destroyed by Babylonians in 587 B.C.). Centuries later King Herod built another temple at the same site to win the hearts of the Jews who resented Roman rule. The second temple was short-lived: Romans burned it in 70 A.D. to quash a Jewish rebellion. Of the second temple the only structure that has survived is the Western Wall. It’s the holy-of-holies for devout Jews.
Some people—Jews and Arabs—believe Abraham intended to sacrifice his son Isaac on the rock at the centre of Haram el Sharif. While Israel and Jews in general are obviously not ecstatic that Haram el Sharif sits on the spot where King Solomon had built his temple, Tel Aviv/Jerusalem authorities have been circumspect in their relations with the Muslim clergy who are in charge of the blue-and-white tile monument. Tampering with Haram el-Sharif would invite the ire of the 1.6 billion Muslims not to mention global condemnation.
But there are the Jewish extremists, often illegal settlers on the West Bank, who have designs on the Muslim shrine. They dream of razing Haram el-Sharif to build the Third Temple on the site. It’s a dangerous pipe dream which makes Palestinians and Muslims nervous. Because of its symbolic and religious value, over the years Haram el-Sharif has been the locale of Palestinian riots and the consequent death of hundreds of Palestinians. Fearing political protests, Israel allows only elderly Muslims to pray at Haram el-Sharif.
But the Solomon Temple/Haram el Sharif friction might be a thing of the past in light of new discoveries and theories: a significant number of Israeli archeologists and Bible experts, including Joe Uziel of the Israel Antiquities Authority, have in recent years stated that Solomon’s Temple was not located where people, for centuries, have believed it was. They say Solomon’s Temple was built 1,000 ft. south of Haram el Sharif between the Jerusalem Wall and the Spring of Gihon in the south. If Haram el-Sharif is not located where Solomon’s Temple was it would mean a significant reduction in tension, if not violence, between Israeli soldiers/Jewish settlers and the Palestinians. That, of course, is good news.
Now the bad news: a group of Jewish extremists now claim the real location of Solomon’s Temple is in southwest of the walled city in…(gasp, gasp)…the Armenian Quarter and more specifically the Sourp Hreshdagabed (Holy Archangel) convent and church. Anyone who knows the dimensions of the vast (according to the Bible) Solomon’s Temple and that of the puny Holy Archangel would dismiss the claim of the Jewish extremists and land grabbers.
The Jewish extremists have placed a 10-minute “documentary” on YouTube where they “prove” Solomon’s Temple was built on land which is now part of the Armenian Quarter. Titled “The True Site of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem,” the over-the-top report is narrated by a Rebecca Lloyd in holier-than-thou tones and an annoying whisper which is meant to indicate the imparting of a super- secret. Charlatan Rebecca offers no evidence of her claim other than that her extremist settler community believes what she says is factual. Of course, she and her gang also believe Jerusalem is the centre of the universe. Nincompoop Rebecca doesn’t identify the Armenian Church by its proper name: Sourp Hreshdagabed. She calls it the Convent of the Olive Tree.
Con artist Rebecca’s accomplice in this hoax is one-time child actor Shimon Gibson. The quack is a low-rent Dan Brown who has produced such religion-shaking oeuvres as “Ancient X-Files”, “The Lost Tomb of Jesus”, “The Secrets of the Jesus Tomb”, “The Secret Family of Jesus”, “Quest for the Lost Ark”…you get the idea. The Ray-ban decked ex-actor and ex-model says regarding the ‘newly-discovered’ location of Solomon’s Temple: “I feel here… that something will be found here which will astound the world.” How about Solomon’s date book listing the names of his hundreds of paramours? Meanwhile risible Rebecca wraps up her fraudulent documentary with these threatening words: “There is nothing stopping us from building the Holy Temple right here.”
Since the Israeli Occupation/Annexation of Jerusalem in 1967, the government and the settlers have plotted hand in glove to grab land from Muslims and Christians. Rebecca’s mockumentary is the first attempt at carving the southeastern part of the Armenian Quarter. Jewish fundamentalists/colonialists consider the area of particular importance because acquiring it would make transit to the Western Wall easier.
The Armenian Church of Jerusalem has its hands full battling Zionist encroachments. Just last year the Israeli government grabbed more than 50 percent of an Armenian shrine and converted it to a park. Every year the authorities and the settlers devise new plots to eventually make Old Jerusalem one-hundred percent Jewish. For these extremist, one Christian in Jerusalem is one too many. Armenians around the world should be alert to Israel’s creeping expansionism. Whenever Israel and its settlers make moves against the Armenians of Jerusalem diaspora Armenians should protest by writing to their political representative, to the media, and to Israeli embassies/consulates. They should post letters on social media. Diaspora Armenians can also help the Armenian Church and community of Jerusalem by visiting Jerusalem in large numbers: the visits signal to the authorities and the settlers that the Armenians of Jerusalem are not orphans. The visits will also send the message that Armenians are alert to every Israeli government or settler encroachments.