A lesson in how history can be made to dissolve.
The wonderful story of Jewish-Muslim cooperation under Turkish rule
Yehuda Litani Published: 02.22.07, 18:39 / Israel Opinion
A delegation of Turkish experts is expected to visit the excavation works at the Mugrabi Bridge near the Temple Mount within the next few days. This is in accordance with an agreement reached between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his counterpart Ehud Olmert during the latter's visit to Turkey last week.
And already Arab Knesset member Talab a-Sana is begging to know what on earth do the Turks have to do with the Temple Mount, and wouldn't it be easier for the Israeli government to coordinate the works with the local Waqf than with far off Turkey? It's as if a-Sana wanted to say: A close neighbor is better than a distant brother. But that same distant brother once ruled the nation, and throughout the 400 years of its rule here, Jerusalem's Ottoman governor was responsible for the third most sacred site to Islam after Mecca and Medina – the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.
In the years 1992-3 the late King Hussein of Jordan financed the renovations of the golden dome, which was carried out by a construction company from Northern Ireland. On a visit to the site during those renovations I discovered a story that wasn’t known until then, regarding the Jewish-Ottoman-Palestinian connection to the mosques on Temple Mount.
Story of the iron panel
The Dome of the Rock was surrounded with scaffolding, and before ascending one of them afriend of mine drew my attention to an iron panel that lay on the floor and was inscribed in French. The foreman of the Irish construction company said the panel had been found between the two halves of the crescents at on top of the mosque, and was temporarily dismantled so that the dome could be coated in gold.
The words in French revealed that the Mosque had been renovated in 1899 during Turkish rule, and that the works had been assisted by the Jewish community in Jerusalem led by a public figure called Avraham (Albert) Entebbe, who among his numerous other activities was also the principal of the city's "Kol Israel Haverim" school.
Entebbe, who was the undersigned on the French inscription, was known for his courageous ties with the heads of the Ottoman rule, and the inscription noted that for the purpose of renovating the mosques on the Temple Mount five acclaimed Jewish artists had been invited to Jerusalem. The Jewish stone carvers, wood carvers and iron mongers from various cities in the Mediterranean basin, shared their skills with their Muslim brothers during months of work.
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