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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

In an article about the Temple Mount, the Times of Israel says "Jews believe the site was home to the first and second Jewish temples before being destroyed by the Babylonians and Romans, and thus revere it as the holiest site in Judaism."

This is the sort of lazy writing that attempts to be even-handed and accurate yet fails. By saying that Jews merely "believe" that the Temples were built on the Temple Mount is to consign historical fact into a mere claim. There is no doubt by any serious person that the Temple Mount was not the site of the Second Temple, and while there may be little direct archaeological evidence that the First Temple was built on the same site, it cannot have been built elsewhere, for the simple reason that it is inconceivable that the Second Temple would have been built anywhere other than the site of the First Temple.

Beyond that, it is not only Jews who "believe" that this was the site of the Temples - Christians do as well.

So by trying to be unbiased, the TOI shows unconscious bias against history as well as the faith of over two billion people.

This unthinking bias about the area doesn't end there, though.

The same article, and countless others, describe the Mount today as "the flashpoint mosque complex in Jerusalem’s Old City which houses Islam’s third-holiest shrine."

What is now called the Al Aqsa Mosque is not universally considered Islam's third holiest shrine.

According to Shia Islam, Najaf and Karbala are holier than Jerusalem with some even claiming that Karbala is holier than Mecca and Medina. (Wikipedia once acknowledged this in this page, which was changed after I pointed out this fact in 2010. It now implies, but doesn't say, that Jerusalem is holier than Karbana and Najaf.)

Sufi Muslims have a completely different list of top holiest sites.

Describing the Al Aqsa Mosque as the third holiest site in Islam is simply wrong. At best, it is the third holiest site in Sunni Islam. (You can also argue about whether Mohammed was describing Jerusalem in his "night journey" story - it is not at all clear that he was.)

Journalists pretend to be so careful to be "accurate" about the Jewish view of the Temple Mount - to the detriment of Jews.

Journalists are sloppy about being accurate about the Muslim view of the Temple Mount - again, to the detriment of Jews.

(h/t Chaim)

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