UPDATES 8 pm Israel time, Monday, May 19 2014:
**Wild celebrations erupted across Israel last night in the wake of Maccabi Tel Aviv’s thrilling victory in the finals of the Euroleague basketball championship. Those celebrations have continued today as thousands of yellow-clad supporters have packed Ben Gurion Airport this afternoon for the team’s return to Israel.
The final score was Maccabi Tel Aviv 98–Real Madrid 86 in overtime.
As amazing as the final was yesterday was the semifinal game in which Maccabi–down by 15 points with 3 minutes to play–rallied to win the game 68-67 over a team from Moscow on a last second shot by the MVP of the tournament Tyrese Rice.
Your humble servant only has one thing to say: Go Maccabi!
**Speaker of the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein, has announced that the election for the presidency will be held on June 10. Even though seven people have announced their desire to replace Shimon Peres whose term has come to an end, only three have collected the requisite signatures of 10 Knesset legislators.
Those three are Likud Minister Reuven Rivlin, Labor elder statesman and former Defense Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer, and former Finance Minister and Hatnua party member Meir Sheetrit. It is expected that former Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik and possibly Likud Minister Silvan Shalom will join this group in the next few days. Those who seem less likely to gain the signatures are Nobel Laureate Dan Shechtman and former Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner (though there is talk this afternoon that the Yesh Atid party may support the latter two to make sure they get on the ballot).
By the way, the President of Israel is not chosen by the popular vote–he or she is chosen by an absolute majority of legislators in the Knesset.
**What can one say about the continuing American attempt to undermine the Israeli government by turning to “leftists” to force Israel to return to “talks” with the Palestinians?
How pathetic was it that last Thursday we had Ehud Barak meeting with Martin Indyk in Washington, D.C., followed on the same day by John Kerry and Mahmoud Abbas meeting in London with Tzipi Livni and Yossi Beilin?
Of course, Ehud Barak and Yossi Beilin are not in the government at all–and all weekend long Tzipi Livni was blasted from all sides for meeting with Abbas. The ongoing, six year attempt of Obama Administration to circumvent the democratically elected government of Israel is simply appalling.
Today we continue with the next installment in our series on the Dome of “the Rock” and how it is misued to perpetuate the idea of a “Muslim Jerusalem”.
This is a series that is crucially needed at this juncture. Read this first paragraph from a news article that appeared in the left-leaning news site YNet news yesterday (emphasis mine):
“Labor and Likud MKs have joined forces on a new bill that proposes to allow Jews to pray at the Temple Mount compound – for the first time since the destruction of the Second Temple, as Jews are currently barred from praying at the site.”
As we saw in our last two blogs, Jews have continued to pray on the Temple Mount throughout the centuries since the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 CE. Sacrifices were still carried out on a remaining altar of the Temple from 70 CE to 135 CE.
Even following the 3rd Roman-Jewish war and Hadrian’s edict that Judaism was to be eradicated from the world–and that no Jews could live in Jerusalem–Jews continued to make their way to the Temple Mount on the 9th of Av to pray at the site of the First and Second Temple. In the year 613 CE, Jews were given control over the Mount once again by King Khosru II of Persia–and immediately resumed full prayers and sacrifices on the Temple Mount.
We stopped our last blog in May of 638 CE with the Muslim invasion and the decree of Caliph Umar that Jews could pray on the Temple Mount without interference. There is considerable evidence that Umar agreed that the Jews could rebuild a wooden structure (Temple or synagogue) over the Foundation Stone–and that one was built.
We now jump ahead to 680 CE when turmoil gripped the Muslim world as the Muslim dynasty based in Jerusalem competed with the dynasty in Mecca for Islamic supremacy. It was in this context that Caliph Abed al-Malik decided to expropriate the the Jewish building over the Foundation Stone and build the Dome of the Rock in the hope of establishing a new pilgrimage site to supplant the Ka’aba in Mecca.
In return for the commandeered building, Jews were permitted to build another synagogue on the Temple Mount–but more on that tomorrow.
So what did al-Malik do with the existing building over the Foundation Stone?
He employed a Christian engineer Yazid ibn Salam (some histories suggest he was aided by a Jew from Jerusalem) to oversee the re-building of the site. And not surprisingly, al-Malik made every effort to equal the nearby Church of the Holy Sepulchre with its large domed rotunda.
An octagonal wooden dome, the Dome has a diameter of 20.20 meters (the Church of the Holy Sepulcher 20.9 meters) and a height of 20.48 meters (the Church 21.05 meters).
Moreover, the design of the Dome of “the Rock” was in every way Christian–unquestionably modeled after two well-known Christian churches of the time: the octagonal Cathedral of Bosra in southern Syria, and the Church of Kathisma whose ruins today can be found in Jerusalem’s southern suburbs on the road from the city to Bethlehem.
In fact, it is the latter church that the Dome most closely resembles in design because the Church of Kathisma was built to house the rock on which Mary supposedly rested on her way to Bethlehem to give birth to Jesus.
The design of Kathisma:
The design of the Dome:
When the Dome of “the Rock” was finished in 690-691 CE, it was immediately and ridiculously embraced forever afterward as a glorious manifestation of Islamic architecture.
In fact, as we close this blog today, the ironies inherent in the Dome’s construction are many but suffice it to mention three of them:
1. The fact is that a Christian design was used to build a supposedly “Muslim” building on the Temple Mount on the site of two destroyed Jewish Temples over the Jewish Foundation Stone where Christians had refused to build anything.
As one scholar has noted: “The new holy structure served as a physical refutation of the Christian belief that the site should remain in desolation.”
The anti-Christian mission of the Dome was underlined by inscriptions on the copper plates above its eastern and southern doors: “The Unity of God and Prophecy of Muhammad are true” and “The Sonship of Jesus and Trinity are false.”
2. The fact is that virtually nothing except the words on the walls of the Dome is Islamic. As stated before, the design is based on Byzantine, Hellenistic, Christian architecture.
As another scholar has noted: “Its well-known mosaic decoration is Islamic only in the sense that the vocabulary is syncretic and does not include representation of men or animals. The entire building might be viewed as the last blossoming of the Hellenistic tradition before the Islamic synthesis created its own formulas.”
3. The Jewishness of the site which the Dome covered was, in fact, completely embraced by al-Malik and early Muslims who saw the Foundation Rock as part of Solomon’s First Temple.
In this context, it is not surprising that the earliest religious services inside the Dome of “the Rock” had a distinctly Jewish character.
But more on this tomorrow.