King's Evangelical Divinity School

3 January 2010

Any Further News on Dr Sari Nusseibeh?

In late November a story appeared on numerous blogs concerning the Palestinian academic Dr Sari Nusseibeh (Birzeit University, Ramallah) having to go into hiding after challenging in a new book the view held by many Middle East Muslims that the Temple Mount in Jerusalem was never a Jewish holy site. Does anyone have any further news on this, or even if it is true? When I looked into it further, the bloggers all seemed to be citing the same source, which makes verification difficult (according to one search engine Sky seemed to have run something at some stage on their site, but when I got there it was a blank page). Therefore, if anyone has any further news from a reputable source I'd be very interested to see it.

For his part Nusseibeh is an interesting character (see his Wikipedia entry for further details, though remember the editing policy of this source) who, as an academic, seems to come across more broad-minded, moderate and objective than some of his Palestinian political peers. Whether or not in this case he received threats (he certainly seems to have experienced some problems in the past for his efforts to engage with the Israelis), the publication of a new edited book on the Temple Mount is not in doubt. The Scotsman newspaper published an interesting article on the project in early December, which can be found here.

Whatever the truth about Nusseibeh going into hiding, it is certainly true that in the region temple denial has become as routine as Holocaust denial. No less than the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem himself some time ago denied there was ever a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount. The whole thing is a total invention, he claimed. Thus, Jews have no history on the Temple Mount and have no right even to pray there. That a man in such a position could so cavalierly dismiss the many historical documents attesting to the Jewish temple is astonishing, while his dismissal of literally tonnes of archaeological evidence would make even a biblical archaeology minimalist break out in a cold sweat.

This kind of temple denial goes to the very heart of another denial so prevalent in the region: Israel's right to exist. No wonder the Israelis are security conscious, who wouldn't be? Which other nation is routinely threatened with destruction? Thus, regardless of one's theology concerning the relationship between the Church and Israel there is surely something all Evangelicals can agree on: that the Church should strive with all its heart to condemn unfailingly and unequivocally such expression of hatred towards the Jewish people which deny them their existence, their nation, their religious history, and even their slaughter in the millions at the hands of the Nazis.

Take my poll on Christian responses to the State of Israel. See top-right of this page.

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