WaPo Stumbles on Temple Mount
William Booth, the Washington Post's Jerusalem bureau chief, has a big spread in the May 23 edition about access for women worshipers to the Western Wall and efforts to make the issue less contentious ("Israel offers bold plan to restore calm at iconic site -- Western Wall redesign aimed at accommodating more liberal strains of Judaism" page A8).
Booth's article is generally fair and comprehensive in explaining the often contradictory views of various stakeholders.
Except in a couple of instances when Booth commits, first, a historical error, and then, a howler of a current-events mistake.
In the first instance, Booth writes that "the Temple Mount is considered a remnant of the Second Temple, built by King Solomon atop Mount Moriah..." King Solomon did not build the Second Temple. He built the first Temple about three millennia ago. It was destroyed some 400 years later by the Babylonians. Temple Mount is the site of both the First and Second Temples. But King Solomon is accurately remembered only as builder of the First Temple.
The second error is much more egregious in its upside-down description of current events at Temple Mount and the Western Wall. Referring to the Mount, which overlooks the Western Wall, Booth writes: "Armed Israeli security forces that often patrol the site are a source of constant friction." That's a 180-degree mistake because it attributes "constant friction" to exactly the wrong party. It completely reverses cause and effect.
The cause of the "constant friction" is not Israeli police patrolling the site. It's Palestinians who riot from atop Temple Mount and bombard Jewish worshipers below with barrages of stones. It's such Palestinian outbursts of violence that create the "friction," necessitating intervention by Israeli security forces to restore peace and order atop Temple Mount.
Booth has it exactly wrong. There would be no "constant friction" if Palestinians engaged in peaceful prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque atop Temple Mount instead of using it as a storage place for stones that periodically are used to pelt Jewish worshipers at the Western Wall.
Whitewashing Palestinian attacks on Judaism's most sacred sites doesn't square with objective journalism.
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers