ADL Concerned at Possible Destruction of Jewish Antiquities at Temple Mount Dig
New York, NY, September 10, 2007 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed concern at ongoing excavations by the Waqf, or Muslim religious trust, on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem that threaten the loss of precious Jewish antiquities and archaeological artifacts.
"We are deeply concerned that the excavation taking place on the Temple Mount will result in the permanent destruction of invaluable and sacred Jewish archaeology at Judaism's holiest site," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "The work should stop immediately until it can be determined whether any precious antiquities are at risk of being permanently lost or destroyed."
Israeli archaeologists are concerned that priceless artifacts could be irreversibly damaged by the digging of a trench Muslim officials say is necessary to replace 40-year-old underground electric cables. The digging reportedly is taking place in an area where Temple courtyards were once located. Archeologists say that some 400 tons of dirt have already been removed in the process, and that the earth could contain artifacts dating back to the first Temple, built by King Solomon 3,000 years ago.
"We are especially concerned because there is a history of Muslim religious leaders treating Israeli religious and cultural artifacts on the Temple Mount, not to mention the Jewish connection to Jerusalem, with contempt," said Mr. Foxman.
In 1997, the Waqf secretly and illegally dug 10,000 tons of Temple Mount earth containing invaluable biblical artifacts, which was dumped in a nearby garbage facility in the middle of the night. Israeli archaeologists have since rescued some of the relics, including a jar fragment from the First Temple period and Hasmonean coins bearing the inscription "Yehonatan High Priest, friend of the Jews."
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.