Compound Interest

According to an LA Times subhead, Israeli police “entered the Al Aqsa mosque without cause” on Saturday.

One glaring problem with the subhead is that reporter Ken Ellingwood later buries the fact that Palestinians were throwing stones at Jewish worshippers, (reporting it as a mere “Israeli claim”). But a second, more serious error, is that while police entered the Temple Mount – a hilltop plaza which contains the Al- Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock – police never entered any of the mosques on the Temple Mount.

News services often refer to the Temple Mount as a “holy site,” a “compound” or a “plaza.” They sometimes even refer to the site by the Muslim name (Haram al-Sharif) or its translation (the Noble Enclosure). But in bending over backwards to show impartiality towards the conflicting religious claims, the Times simply fell over.

False claims about Israeli actions on the Temple Mount unfairly and inaccurately portray Israel as conniving to gain control over the site and sometimes even extend legitimacy to Palestinian terror. For example, when snow and tremors led to the collapse of a stone wall on the site, Hamas blamed Israel for undermining the Temple Mount. This prompted the BBC to write:

Israel has been carrying out archaeological excavations in an area outside the compound, inviting the charge that they are trying to destabilise the mosque, Islam’s third holiest site.

In related coverage of Saturday’s riot, AFP described the Western Wall as “the only surviving remnant of the temple.” Actually, the Western Wall is the only surviving remnant of a retaining wall built around the Temple Mount and was never attached to the Temple itself.