Before Israel founded, 'Muslims would not have disputed connection Jews have'
JERUSALEM - A prestigious Palestinian professor told WND that the Muslim denial of a Jewish connection to the Temple Mount is political and that historically Muslims did not dispute Jewish ties to the site.
"If you went back a couple of hundred years, before the advent of the political form of Zionism, I think you will find that many Muslims would not have disputed the connection that Jews have toward [the Mount]," said Sari Nusseibeh, president of Al-Quds University in eastern Jerusalem.
"The problem began arising with the advent of Zionism, when people started connecting a kind of feeling that Jews have toward the area with the political project of Zionism," Nusseibeh stated.
Zionism refers to the political movement that supports the reestablishment of the Jewish state in the land of Israel.
According to sources inside the Palestinian Authority, Nusseibeh has come under some PA pressure for writing in a recent study that Jews historically revered the Temple Mount before the time of Muhammad and Islam.
The PA sources denied any security threats against Nusseibeh but conceded that PA President Mahmoud Abbas' office had asked the professor to issue a clarification acknowledging the Palestinian line denying Jewish ties to the Mount.
The sources indicated that if Nusseibeh did not issue a clarification his position as Al-Quds' president could be in jeopardy.
Nusseibeh, however, denied that he has received any threats over the matter.
"I am surprised that people are surprised by what I wrote. There is nothing in Islam that denies the fact that Judaism is one of the religions of the book," he said.
Nusseibeh contributed to an Israeli-Palestinian study about the Temple Mount entitled, "Where Heaven and Earth Meet: Jerusalem's Sacred Esplanade." In the study, Nusseibeh does not affirm the existence of the Jewish Temples on the site but writes the Mount was revered by Jews before the time of Muhammad.
The PA long has denied any Jewish historic connection to the Temple Mount or Jerusalem.
Israel's Maariv daily newspaper reported Nusseibeh was threatened by Palestinians regarding his participation in the study.