The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem is fuming over a draft decision distributed on Thursday by representatives of the European Union at meetings of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee in Istanbul on the subject of the Israeli capital’s Old City that completely ignores the Jewish connection to the site.
The proposal is an alternative to the Jordanian-Palestinian one announced earlier this week. The Europeans distributed a document that allegedly partially softens this draft but still completely accepts the Palestinian narrative that the site that includes the Al-Aqsa Mosque is a site holy to Muslims alone.
While the European draft does mention the Western Wall outside of scare quotes, unlike the Palestinian version, sources in Jerusalem claim that the Europeans’ proposal denies the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount…
During the committee’s debate, Shama Hacohen asked the Palestinian representative, Amb. Mounir Anastas, why the Palestinians were not prepared to recognize the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and add the Jewish term “Temple Mount” alongside the Palestinian “Al-Haram Al-Sharif.” Anastas replied, that if the Palestinians recognized the Temple Mount as such, the Palestinian president and Jordanian king would become ISIS’s top target.
The Israeli ambassador answered, “The historical connection of the Jewish people to the Temple Mount is not dependent on the desires and threats of ISIS just like it’s not dependent on the will or decision of foreign countries and international organizations….”
Fort Antonia: a holy place for Christians
The citadel – Fort Antonia – functioned as a Roman armycamp for hundred of years. After the christianizing of Emperor Constantine the Romans constructed two Roman Catholic churches on the mount.
In 325, Constantine built at least three octagonal churches. The church of Nativity in Bethlehem. The location of “Mary’s rock” near Bethlehem and the other on the temple mount where the octagonal Dome of the Rock presently is. The army camp became a holy place for christians. Reason: Jesus was sentenced to death on the mount by Pontius Pilatus in a place that’s called ‘ Praetorium‘ in the bible-stories of John, Matthew and Luke.
(The Persians destroyed all Churches in Israel in 614. In 700 AD the Muslims found the foundations of Constantine’s octagon church and built the dome of the Rock we see today)
Jesus before Pilate – (John 18-28; Matthew 27:11-14; Luke 23:1-6) John 18-28 – Then they led Jesus away from Caiaphas into the Praetorium. By now it was early morning, and the Jews did not enter the Praetorium to avoid being defiled and unable to eat the Passover. Matthew 27:1 – When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people conspired against Jesus to put Him to death. Matthew 27:2 – They bound Him, led Him away, and handed Him over to Pilate the governor. Matthew 27:27 – Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company around Him.
Fort Antonia was also called the Roman Praetorium and it was the place where Pilate sentenced Jesus to crucifixion.
That central rock outcropping was a significant spot in the fortress, as Josephus stated, and even the apostle John singled it out for comment regarding the judgment of Jesus. John called it the lithostrothon [a rock, on which people could stand and be judged,]. This “Rock” had a Hebrew name: “Gabbatha.”
The Haram esh-Sharif built around this well known “rock outcropping” was the only building with its four massive walls to survive the Jewish/Roman War. We can still see its stones in place in its lower courses (all 10,000 of them). Those Herodian walls of Fort Antonia (including where the Jewish Wailing Wall is located) have withstood the ravages of time for centuries. But eyewitness accounts attest that all the inner and outer walls of the Temple and the walls that surrounded Jerusalem were dismantled including their very foundations (not even those uprooted foundation stones were left in situ), the 10,000 stones of the Haram remained in their pristine positions. The walls of Fort Antonia surrounding the famous “rock” in the center area were retained by Titus to protect the Roman Legion permanently encamped in the Jerusalem area. This was the “rock” in the Praetorium where Jesus stood when Pilate judged him.
The Church of St. Mary was a Byzantine church that was built in Jerusalem during the reign of Justinian and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The church was located on the Temple Mount.
Byzantine historian Procopius wrote that the church was built in 560 AD and burned down by the Persians in 614. Later after the Muslim conquest of the Holy Land, this church eventually was converted into what is the present day Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Al-Aqsa Mosque was built 20 years after the Dome of the Rock, which was built in 691-692 by Khalif Abd El Malik (the name “Omar Mosque” is therefore false).
Therefore, in or around 711, or about 80 years after Mohammed died, Malik’s son, Abd El-Wahd (who ruled from 705-715) reconstructed the Christian- Byzantine Church of St. Mary and converted it into a mosque.
He left the structure as it was, a typical Byzantine “basilica” structure with a row of pillars on either side of the rectangular “ship” in the center.
All he added was an onion-like dome on top of the building to make it look like a mosque. He then named it El-Aqsa, so it would sound like the one mentioned in the Koran.