At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I must complain again about deliberate (in this case, simply outrageous) distortion of history.
No; “distortion” is too weak a word. My complaint this time involves outright lying — a big lie on the level of Goebbels and Stalin
History is supposed to be the story of what happened.
Just the truth. It should not be relevant to historians what one group or another may feel is the most popular version of a particular story, nor should it matter whose sacred cows are affected.
With that in mind, I endeavored earlier to ascertain the actual history of the space currently occupied by Jerusalem’s al Aksa Mosque.
There are dozens of versions available on the Internet — so many that yesterday I found myself wondering whether there are any serious, objective historians who know, simply, what happened, and precisely where. One would think that it would be possible to know, considering the rich archaeological evidence in the area. Direct, physical evidence, of the kind historians call the “primary source” variety. Stuff that speaks for itself.
Like (once again) Roman coins. Roman sculptures.
It is so far beyond dispute that Israel, known as Judea, was occupied by the Romans, that the Romans fought several major wars with the Jews, that the Romans killed hundreds of thousands of Jews in these wars (in which as many as 90,000 Romans were killed in one war alone), that the Jews were then disbursed — that I don’t see how any sane person could possibly deny it.
Yet the Arab word maintains seriously that the Jews were never there! I guess they think that the Romans made up the history of the terrible wars they fought against the Jews. That they forged the coins showing “CAPTIVE JUDEA” — and invented the sculptures showing the looting of the Temple and the carrying off of Menorahs.
Why on earth would the Romans make this up? I don’t know. Perhaps you’d have to ask, for starters, the Palestinian Authority. Their official history is that the Jews never lived in Israel. Ever!
The following is a typical Arab claim:

The Arabic name for Jerusalem is El Kuds, not Jerusalem. Various Palestinian and Arab spokespersons have rejected the fact that the 1st and 2nd Jewish Temples ever existed in Jerusalem. Here is what the Palestinian Authority says about the Western Wall on the official PA website:
“Al-Boraq Wall: It is part of the exterior facade of the western wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque. ‘Al-Boraq,’ a creature which carried Mohammad during his ascension to heaven, was tied to this wall. Some Orthodox religious Jews consider it as a holy place for them, and claim that the wall is part of their temple which all historic studies and archaeological excavations have failed to find any proof for such a claim.

This web site offers an exhaustive look at the history of the site — particularly of the Roman period, contrasting it with bogus Arab claims:
[EDITORIAL NOTE: sorry for the long quote — but the following is as accurate as it is exhasutive, and I must show it here to demonstrate the outrageous Arab falsification of history.]

Yassir Arafat and the Arabs claimed the Holy Jewish Temple Mount and Jerusalem based upon one extraordinarily huge lie told over and over again. Here their is a brief history of the religious war against the Jewish people, the Jewish State of Israel and her 3000 year old Eternal Capital, Jersalem.
Would be conquerors invariably issue false claims to provide justification for their march to conquest. The more recent call to “Jihad” against the Jews of Israel was first called in 1947 after the U.N. partition in a “Fatwa” (religious ruling) by the Saudis – supposedly to save the AI-Aksa mosque on the Temple Mount from the Jews. Thus, Yassir Arafat, with the full support of the Arab Nations, later claimed the Jewish Temple Mount as the third holiest site for Islam – including all of Jerusalem. Therefore, as in the past, this claim has its root in a classic religious war – in addition to other spurious reasons offered.
Arafat resurrected this false political claim in 1967 with the same excuse that Arafat’s uncle, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin Al-Husseini, used to initiate the riots of Hebron ard Jerusalem in 1929. Tne Grand Muffi FALSELY claimed that the Jews were attacking the Al-Aksa mosque and killing Muslims in his virulent war against the Jews. Then the Muslims began massacring the Jews in Jerusalem, Hebron (67 killed) and other Jewish areas. Husseini later became a confidante of Adolph Hitler, begging him to bring his Jew-killing machine to Jerusalem during WWII.
Similarly, Arafat has done everything possible to bring the larger Arab nations into the conflict, using the false clails that the Temple Mount and all of Jerusalem belongs only to Islam. Arafat desperately wants and needs a full scale war as a bloody rite of passage for his miscellaneous Palestinians. Arafat may, however, absorbed whatever concessions he has been offered by Barak and delay the big war until a time of his own choosing, (just as Mohammed did in violating the Hudaibiya Treaty in 628 C.E. – see below)
This myth of Jerusalem as Islam’s third holiest city based upon the mythical ascension of Mohammed from Al-Aksa to Heaven has grown exponentially in the recent telling since 1967. When you tell a Big Lie and repeat it often, it achieves credibility and legs of its costa. In Islam, telling a lie to infidels for the sake of colarging you own believers” faith or defeating the infidel is acceptable, even desirable.
Brief History
Site of the Temple Mount in the Future Jewish Capital of Jerusalem
2 Samuel 24:21-25 The choosing of the site came when G-d punished Israel because King David ordered a census of the Jewish peopleafter he defeated of the Philistines in a great battle. The sin was King David”s presumption that the salvation of the people came from their slicer numbers and not the Hand of G-d. A pestilence followed which only ceased when the prophet Gad advised King David to erect an altar on the stone threshing floor on Mt. Moriah that belonged to Araunah, the Jebusite. So King David purchased the site for 600 silver shekels, for which he assessed 50 silver shekels from each tribe. (1 Chronicles 21:25)
King David built the altar and the plague ceased, The site was on Mount Moriah where Abraham had prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac in obedience to G-d”s Command as this final test of Abraham”s faith. This then was the place where the future Jerusalem was to be built and the site of the First and Second Temples. As a man of war, King David was not allowed to build the Temple, so the task fell to his son King Solomon, who built the First Temple on the Temple Mount. (1)
Revision of History
These facts of recorded history have been obliterated by the recent false claims made in the time of radical Islamic Fundamentalism supported by the silence of scholars willing to face a “Fatwa” of assassination as was issued against Salman Rusdie. Moreover, the World Media, with full access to Biblical scholars and historical files, have instead accepted the Great Lie. They carry it forward without question and with a certain perverse enthusiasm, having refused to use the Bible (Torah) as a resource. They also have neglected to read the opinions of such experts as the 13th Century Arab biographer Yakut who noted: “Mecca is holy to Muslims; Jerusalem is holy to the Jews.”(2)
The history of Jerusalem and the site of the Jewish Holy Temple, constructed in 956 B.C.E. (2956 years ago) by King Solomon, son of. King David according to G-d”s specific instructions is fully described with minute detail in the Tomb. The First Temple was later destroyed by the Babylonian conqueror, Nebuchadineizar in 536 B.C.F. (2370 verms ago). This was not the first attempt to destroy the Jewish people but was significant in in goal to eliminate what was the repository of Jewish strength and belief.
The Second Temple was rebuilt by order of Cyrus, the King of Persia, who also paid for its reconstruction and ordered the return of the Jews exiled to Babylon in 538 B.C.E. The second Temple was completed and consecrated in 51513.C.E, (2,3 &4)
King Herod, a great builder but a cruel, despotic ruler appointed by the Romans rebuilt and added to the Second Temple for 46 years. After the Jews revolted against Roman rule, the Romans under Titus destroyed and burned die Second Temple beginning on the Ninth of AV (Tisha B”Av), 70 C.E. (1930 years ago). You may recall seeing photos of the carvings on the Arch of Titus in Rome, depicting Titus” triumphal march through Rome, Pedaling the sacred Temple vessels, including the great , Menorah (Candelabra).
The Romans sent the Jews into exile again for 1,878 years. However, for all that time there was a Jewish presence and those dispersed across the globe prayed daily – “Next Year in Jerusalem! ” The City and the Temple have always been central to Jewish thought and identity. (Note! Despite Arafat”s claim that there was no Jewish connection to the Temple, the Romans memorialized their capture of the Jews and their Temple in 70 C.E. by carving it in stone.)
The streets of Jerusalem and the Holy Jewish Temple were walked upon by Jewish Kings and Prophets long before the 7th century C.E, when a man named Mohammed had a vision that he was the last chosen prophet of G-d, the G-d they called Allah. Mohammed was driven out of Mecca by the Arab community and fled to Medina which had three Jewish tribes. Mohammed offered himself to the Jews as G-d”s (Allah) final Prophet.
For 19 months Mohammed offered his “quibla” (direction of his prayers) toward Jerusalem as a “confidence-building gesture”, until the Jews refused to believe his claims and totally rejected him. Then Mohammed gathered the pagan desert tribes under his visionary image.
Mohammed used the trick of a temporary truce (permitted in Islam) to make a treaty called the Hudaibiya Treaty with the Jewish Koraish tribe. But, in 628 C.E. at the Khalil” Oasis, Mohammed killed them. Arafat often claims that the Oslo Treaty is similar to the Hudaibiya Treaty which Mohammed violated with impunity when he was militarily stronger. (4)
Mohammed never again mentioned the word Jerusalem in his compilation of Islam”s holy book, the Koran and directed his “quibla” (prayers) to Mecca. If a Muslim happened to visit or pass through Jerusalem, it was called a “ziyarar” unlike the holy pilgrimage to Mecca which was called by the honorific “Haj”. A mandated visit to Mecca allowed the Muslim pilgrim to add Haj to his name.
For Mohammed, Jerusalem was a despised place of the Jews and had no place in his vision for his Islamic religion. It was as if he could not excise the Jewish essence from holy Jewish City of Jerusalem, although it is said that he believed that the Last Judgement of man would issue from Jerusalem. Mohammed spent his early years among the Jewish tribes particularly in and around Yathrib (Medina). It was, therefore, not unusual for Mohammed to include a pilgrimage to Mecca since the Jewish Torah called for the Jews to make three pilgrimages to Jerusalem each year on Sukkot, Pesach, and Shavuot. There is much in the Koran that finds its source in the Torah (JewishBible).
Before the days of Mohammed, Christian conquerors had occupied Jerusalem (within the Byzantine Empire). Bringing one”s god into battle demonstrated that both their armies and their gods were superior to those of their victims when they won. So, they usually built their holy places on top their victims” holy places, which they did on the Temple Mount, to absorb the strength of their conquered adversaries and to convert them to their religion. Even under the threat of the sword, the Jews refused to convert and allow their lineage to be absorbed, which would in effect, transfer G- d”s Covenant.
Mohammed died in 632 C.E. Jerusalem was subsequently captured from the Christians by Khaliph Omar, six years after Mohammed”s death, accompanied by the apostate Yemenite, Jew, Ka”ab al Akhbru (the smile syndrome as today). There was a struggle over who would assume Mohammed”s role as leader of the new religion of Islam which he had envisioned.
So, another conqueror (the Muslims) had superceded the Christian invaders and their Mosque was proof of their superiority in battle and gods. But, it was much more. It was also to be a mighty symbol in the struggle for leadership of the growing movement of Islam. Since Mecca was already the location of Mohammed”s power with its own priest cult, if a claimant wanted to redirect that power to him self as the new leader of Islam, he would also need an uncontested and new base of religious power. He could not make war on Mecca and expect to be accepted as Mohammed”s rightful heir.
Jerusalem, despite Mohammed’s rejection, was still looked upon in the then Arab world as a powerful symbol where the ancient Jews had placed their faith. The Jews considered Jerusalem the center of the world and the earthly dwelling place of HaShem … the one G-d. it was not surprising that the Arabs and other nations wanted to own and control this source of power. Approximately 60 years after Mohammed”s death, the Dome of the Rock was built by Khaliph Abd El Malik of Syria in a first effort to turn Muslim prayers toward his edifice. He wanted to demonstrate Islam”s superiority over the Christians and Jews they had driven from Jerusalem. This was primarily for political purposes, not necessarily religious. El Malik failed in his bid to become the replacement for Mohammed and the Muslims continued to direct their “quibla” (direction of prayers) toward Mecca and the revered Kaba”a stone monolith. The El- Aksa, Mosque was built 20 years after the Dome of the Rock or 80 years after Mohammed died. (4 & 5)
The Church, Saint Mary of Justinian, constructed on the Jewish Temple Mount. later became the foundation for the Dome of the Rock built by Khadiph Abd El Malik over and around the Church in 691-692. Approximately in 711 C.E., Malik”s son Abd Ell Walid, who ruled from 705 to 715 – reconstructed the Christian-Byzantine Church of St. Mary and converted it into a mosque. He left the Christian 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 union-like dome on top of the building to make it look like a mosque. He named it El-Aksa, so it would sound like the one mentioned in the Koran. (5)
El-Buraq Myth
Early Islamic scholars, with no particular political agenda, interpreted Mohammed”s dream flight to El-Aksa * (tit. the furthest place) was to Islamic heavenly place where the purest and most holy Courtyard of Allah. That, indeed, would be the “furthest place” or “El Aksa”. The revised myth of today names the earthly Al- Aksa Mosque built by Khaliph El Malik on the site of the Jewish Temple as the basis of the Muslim claim to the Temple Mount. This is substantially different than that of the early non-political scholars of Islam Serious Islamic scholars viewed the tale as merely a folk story. The mythical story of Mohammed”s night flight, which evolved from unidentified sources after Mohammed”s death went something like this: (Note! Keep in mind that there was no El-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount until 80 years after Mohammed”s death.)
“In the time it takes for a drop of water to spill from a tipped over jug, Mohammed flew, in a dream, to El-Aksa (the furthest place). He flew on a winged horse named El-Buraq which had the face and breasts of a woman and the tail of a peacock. El-Buraq landed on the rock upon which it was believed Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac as G-d”s ultimate test of Abraham”s faithfulness. (The Muslims maintain that it was Ishmael, son of the Abraham”s Egyptian concubine Hagar who was to sacrificed.) This giant horse was tethered for a period of time on the Rock or foundation stone of the Holy Jewish Temple, leaving a hoofprint on the Rock, Then Buraq leapt to the 7th Heaven where Mohammed purportedly met all the ancient Jewish prophets (including J…s) and received their blessings as the last Prophet of Allah. Then (in the dream) he returned to Mecca as the last authorized prophet of Allah.(6 Koran Sura 17:1)
This is the basis of Yassir Arafart”s present claim to the Jewish Temple Mount (and, by extension, all of Jerusalem) as the third holiest place for Islam after Mecca and Medina. He has called his recent terrorism against Israeli Jews, the Aksa “intifada” and returned the Western Wall: the “El-Buraq Wall”. The Muslim “Wakf” (caretakers) are presently excavating and destroying all evidence of Jewish artifacts under the Temple Mount, and Arafat has claimed there is nothing in, on or under the Temple Mount to prove its Jewish history The Arabs” massive excavation under the Temple Mount is more than removing the races of the Jew. but is a virtual displacement of the Jewish religion by Arafat for Islam.(7)

In this blog, I have linked to Roman coins as well as pictures of the Arch of Titus to demonstrate that there are primary Roman sources for what no serious historian could deny.
Where do these Arabs get off lying like this? Why does no one call them on it? Why do members of the American press (like Charlie Rose, for example) take them seriously?
I am not about to advocate tearing down the al Aksa Mosque — because it is part of history. Jewish, Roman, Christian, and Muslim history. But to deny history is especially heinous to me. People who deny the true history of a site they claim as “theirs” in my opinion have lost any moral right to manage it properly.
In case any readers doubt the veracity of Jewish sources, and don’t believe clear evidence on Roman coins, consider the following Wikipedia discussion of Arab claims as “conspiracy theory”:

The Jews never lived in Israel theory
The Palestinian Authority, and some other Arab governments and universities, teach that Jews never lived in Israel. They teach that all archaeological proof to the contrary is part of an international western anti-Arab conspiracy. In this view, the Bible’s claims are deliberate fictions, and the ancient Jews actually came from Yemen, on the Arabian peninsula. This is a mainstream Arab view, taught in many schools across the Middle East.
This view has garnered support among many Muslims because it is in accord with traditional Muslim beliefs. According to Islam, the leaders of both Judaism and Christianity deliberately altered the true word of God, and thus led all of their believers down a false path. In the Quran, Mohammed charges the Jewish people with “falsehood” (Sura 3:71), distortion (4:46), and of being “corrupters of Scripture.” This belief was developed further in medieval Islamic polemics, and is a mainstream part of both Sunii and Shiite Islami today. This is known as the doctrine of tahrifi-lafzi, “the corruption of the text”.
“Jerusalem is not a Jewish city, despite the biblical myth implanted in some minds…There is no tangible evidence of Jewish existence from the so-called ‘Temple Mount Era’…The location of the Temple Mount is in question…it might be in Jericho or somewhere else.” (Walid M. Awad, Director of Foreign Publications for the PLO’s Palestine Ministry of Information, interviewed by the IMRA news agency, Dec.25, 1996.)
A Palestinian tv show broadcast on PLO Television in June 1997 featured Palestinian Arab historian Jarid al-Kidwa. He claimed that “all the events surrounding Kings Saul, David and Rehoboam occurred in Yemen, and no Hebrew remnants were found in Israel, for a very simple reason–because they were never here.” Al-Kidwa said: “Most of the Khazars (a Turkish tribe that converted to Judaism in medieval times) are the Ashkenazic Jews who arrived in Palestine. As Allah is my witness, in my blood flows more of the Children of Israel and the ancient Hebrews than in the blood of Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu.”
According to the Israeli daily Ha’aretz (July 6, 1997), al- Kidwa said: “The stories of the Torah and the Bible did not take place in the Land of Israel–they occurred in the Arabian peninsula, primarily in Yemen. The identity of our father Ibrahim [Abraham] who is mentioned in the Koran is clear. From the Koran’s description of him it arises that he lived in the southern Hejaz [Saudi arabia], near Mecca.”
Numerous Palestinian Authority textbooks for their children teach them that Jews and Chrisitans lie about being connected to the land of Israel. Here is one such example: “The Zionists turn[ed] their attention towards Palestine as the national homeland of the Jews, while relying on false historical and religious claims.” From Modern Arab History and Contemporary Problems, Part Two, for Tenth Grade p. 50
When Palestinian Authority school books discuss sites of religious interest, Muslim as well as Christian sites are included but not Jewish. Even the Jews’ connection to the remnant of their holiest site, the Western Wall of the Temple, is denied: “The Jews claim that this is one of the places belonging to them and call it “The Western Wall”, but this is not so.” From Reader and Literary Texts for Eighth Grade #578 p. 103. Their textbooks also claim that Jews have nothing to do with the Temple in Jerusalem: “Jerusalem: I have many Islamic holy places and antiquities. This is al-Aqsa Mosque and this is the Dome of the Rock…To the west of the holy mosque you can see a vast stone wall called ‘al-Buraq Wall’, [Western Wall of the Temple] to which the angel Gabriel, peace be upon him, tied the beast of the Prophet Muhammad on the night of his journey [to heaven]… As for my Christian holy places – the most famous of them are ‘The Church of al-Qiama’ [Holy Sepulchre-ed], next to the mosque of ‘Umar ibn al Khatab, and the church of ‘al-Juthmana’ opposite al-Isbat Gate, outside the wall. From Palestinian National Education for Third Grade #529 P. 14.
The Palestine Ministry of Information issued, on Dec. 10, 1997, the follow statement. They claimed that a century’s worth of archaeological excavations in the Old City of “Jerusalem” have found “Umayyad Islamic palaces, Roman runis, Armenian ruins and others, but nothing Jewish.” The Ministry then claimed that “there is no tangible evidence of any Jewish traces / remains in the old city of Jeruslaem and its immediate vicinity.”

And here is the Internet Encyclopedia:

Many Arab schools and universities teach that Jews never lived in the land of Israel, and that all archaeological proof to the contrary is part of an international western anti-Arab conspiracy. In this view, no Jews ever lived in Israel, and the Bible’s claims are deliberate fictions, and the ancient Jews actually came from Yemen. While Western scholars and moderate Arabs consider such claims to be conspiracy theories, this view is now wide-spread among some Palestinians, Lebanese and Saudi Arabians.

It’s hard to know what to say. I am, simply, astounded.
If, as the Arab governments claim, the Romans never fought wars against the Jews because the Jews never existed in Judea — if the murderous wars were made up — then how do we know the Romans themselves ever existed? Did the Jews invent them too?
Does history as we know it no longer exist?
ADDITIONAL NOTE: My personal opinion (based on hours and hours of studying this stuff) is that the al Aksa Mosque was most likely an early Islamic conversion of the Byzantine Church of St. Mary, itself a conversion of Hadrian’s Temple of Jupiter — which of course the Romans built on the site of the original temple, to deny Jews access to a holy site which had originally been theirs. Such a place is rich in history and archaeology — Jewish, Pagan, Christian, Muslim.
I know it sounds naive — but I think history should be respected.
In case my readers haven’t noticed, I am more than a little sensitive about basic historical facts (particularly involving the Romans) being questioned — as I have devoted a great deal of time to the Romans in this blog.
You can read my post about the Roman war with Judea here.