If you’ll recall, back in the distant mists of early 2001, a certain unpopular dictatorial Muslim regime decided to destroy some historical antiquities that it found inconvenient to its own political and religious position. That destruction raised an epic cry of protest from all over the world, made the front pages of countless newspapers, and was a closely-followed story all the way up until the antiquities’ destruction.
Of course, I’m talking about the Taliban’s decision to destroy the massive Buddhas of Bamiyan, which catapulted the formerly little-known group of Islamic thugs to worldwide prominence. UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), in charge of a list of World Heritage Sites, and dozens of world governments, even Islamic theocracy Iran, protested mightily. The Japanese government offered the Taliban a huge sum to save the statues. But of course, the Taliban destroyed them anyway.
Meanwhile, two years before the world outcry over the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan, a certain Muslim religious organization was carrying out a massive act of willful destruction of antiquities that it found inconvenient to its own invented history.
I’m talking about the Waqf’s construction beneath the Temple Mount, which required the removal and unceremonious disposal in garbage dumps of tons and tons of rubble which contained, among other things, ruins from both the first and second Temples. The Waqf purportedly was interested in building a mosque, although given the PA’s (and Islam’s) official policy of denying the existence of a historical Jewish presence in Israel (because after all the Israelites were Muslims) and particularly on the Temple Mount, their intent may have been more sinister. A PA press release from 1997 claimed “The archaeology of Jerusalem is diverse – excavations in the Old City and the areas surrounding it revealed Umayyad Islamic palaces, Roman ruins, Armenian ruins and others, but nothing Jewish. Outside of what is mentioned written in the Old and New Testaments, there is no tangible evidence of any Jewish traces or remains in the old city of Jerusalem and its immediate vicinity.” And straight from the mouth of PA President Mahmoud Abbas: “[Israelis] claim that 2000 years ago they had a Temple [on the Temple Mount]. I challenge the claim that this is so. But even if it is so, we do not accept [current Israeli claims on the Temple Mount].” Abbas is also noteworthy for challenging other commonly accepted historical facts such as the Holocaust.
In any case, nobody cared when the Waqf started dumping the remains of the Temples. UNESCO was more concerned with Muslim claims that Israelis were not providing appropriate protection to Islamic antiquities unearthed by excavations (which itself may be a problem but is certainly nothing compared to willful destruction). The UNESCO agent assigned to inspect Israel’s complaint that the Waqf was destroying Temple Mount antiquities decided that the only damage on the Temple Mount was caused by neglect due to concerns over sovereignty, and not any intentional destruction.
Curiously, the Israeli Antiquities Authority gave the mounds of rubble a cursory inspection and declared they were of no archaeological worth. However, it may be that the Antiquities Authority needs better archaeologists, because an archaeologist from Bar-Ilan University working independently of the Authority to sift through the rubble has discovered a 2600-year old seal from the First Temple Period, the first find of its kind from that era. In addition, the archaeologist, Dr. Gavriel Barkay, has discovered coins, pottery and various architectural odds and ends from the First Temple Period all the way down to the late Islamic period.
One would think, especially now that solid evidence of the Waqf removing historically significant material exists, the world who raised such protest when two Buddha statues were destroyed might raise at least a whimper in defense of the historical merit of the Temple Mount, the center of the Israelite religion which gave modern Western civilization its moral code. Instead the only protestors are Israeli archaeologists and religious Jews.
Apparently dynamiting Buddha statues is a grave crime against humanity, but bulldozing and dumping the remains of two Jewish Temples of huge historic import is, well, not so objectionable. Hmm.