Mondoweiss

Hectored by Zionist wannabe archaeologists, ‘NYT’ recasts article on Jewish temples

Rick Gladstone

This is wild. The New York Times ran an article two days ago raising an archaeological question: Were the first and second Jewish temples really on the Jerusalem plateau where the Muslim holy sites are today in the occupied Old City?

Zionist writers soon jumped on the question. Jeffrey Goldberg, formerly an Israeli soldier, revealed himself as an archaeologist in this tweet directed at the New York Times reporter Rick Gladstone:

@rickgladstone Is there any doubt in your mind that the 2nd Temple stood on the Temple Mount?

He said that the article’s premise was “troubling.” And was soon joined by Liel Leibovitz at Tablet, in a rant that began:

Was the White House ever in Washington, D.C.? Can we ever really know for sure?

And that castigated Gladstone for “ignorance and malice” and “repulsive bad faith” in his line of questioning sources.

Leibovitz labelled Gladstone a “truther” on the issue; and Jeffrey Goldberg echoed Leibovitz’s mockery:

“Denying that a Jewish temple stood on the Temple Mount is akin to denying that the earth is not flat.”

Jeremy Burton of Boston’s Jewish Community Relations Council joined in:

Waiting for the NYT piece finding that there is no definitive archeological proof that Jesus was in Jerusalem.

Yigal Palmor, the spokesperson for the Jewish Agency, wrote:

Temple Mount denial upgraded from islamist propaganda to NY Times respectability.

And added this bizarre line:

Denying evidence will make u famous. Guess it’s better than shooting a President or a rock star.

The New York Times reporter bowed to the pressure. Late in the day Friday, Rick Gladstone directly informed Leibovitz and Goldberg on twitter:

@JeffreyGoldberg @liel I have corrected this article online, with a correction appended to the article.

The critical 2nd paragraph of the piece has now been changed to say the issue is not whether the temples were on the Temple Mount but where they were on the Temple Mount. As the correction at the end states:

An earlier version of this article misstated the question that many books and scholarly treatises have never definitively answered concerning the two ancient Jewish temples. The question is where precisely on the 37-acre Temple Mount site the temples had once stood, not whether the temples had ever existed there.

But the crazy part– as many of Gladstone’s Zionist critics are also pointing out on twitter– is that the original question is the only one the article really deals with:

Many Palestinians, suspicious of Israel’s intentions for the site, have increasingly expressed doubt that the temples ever existed — at least in that location. Many Israelis regard such a challenge as false and inflammatory denialism.

“This is a very politically loaded subject,” said Matthew J. Adams, Dorot director of the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem. “It’s also an academically complex question.”

Gladstone then cites several other authorities, questioning whether the temples were even on the site:

Although the biblical text does not specify the exact site of Mount Moriah, the Israeli scholar Rivka Gonen, in her book “Contested Holiness: Jewish, Muslim and Christian Perspectives on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem,” says the reference has been widely interpreted to mean the high point on the hill above the City of David — the rock now under the Dome of the Rock.

Many historians have said independent scientific verification of such a reference is problematic.

“The sources for the first temple are solely biblical, and no substantial archaeological remains have been verified,” said Wendy Pullan, senior lecturer in the history and philosophy of architecture at the University of Cambridge, in the book “The Struggle for Jerusalem’s Holy Places.”

Mr. Adams said, “We just don’t have enough primary source data, textual or archaeological, to say where it was with any confidence.”…

Jane Cahill, an expert on Jerusalem’s early history who was a senior staff archaeologist for Hebrew University’s City of David Archaeological Project, said “nobody knows exactly” where the temples once stood, although “pretty powerful circumstantial evidence” suggests they were on the site.

“Because there have been no organized excavations there, and not likely to be, circumstantial evidence is probably all we’re going to have,” she said.

Archaeologists agree that far more information is known that corroborates the existence of the second temple at the site than the first.

Too bad the Times didn’t stick to its guns on the question. The appearance that it folded under pressure is confirmed by the fact that Gladstone tweeted his changes out to his assailants, Leibovitz and Goldberg. They are just performing a traditional Zionist role, in the tradition of Yigael Yadin and Moshe Dayan– archaeologists.

I have no idea where the temples stood; the issue is why the NYT would raise a question, presumably based on reporting, and then withdraw it under pressure from Zionists who hector you as a “truther.” And if it was really wrong, why not take down the whole article?

Goldberg also made this tweet:

Proof of no progress in the Middle East: The never-ending contention that no Jewish Temple stood on the Temple Mount

As if that’s the heart of the problem: the Arabs will not recognize Jewish historical claims to the land. When the real issues in the conflict are right before your eyes, ongoing land confiscation, and rule based on religion and ethnicity.

Thanks to Scott Roth.