Tonight Jews start the fast of Tisha b’Av, or the ninth of the month of Av. I cannot recall a year when this fast has been so freighted with anxiety, poignancy and the full weight of Jewish history.
For through this fast the Jewish people mourn the destruction of the ancient Jewish Temple – a double destruction in fact, the first time by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and and the second by the Romans in 70 CE which saw the Jewish people exiled from their homeland of Israel.
The Temple, that is, that stood in Jerusalem on what is now called Temple Mount; the one to whose remaining stones Jews turn their faces when they pray as the site of their ancient holy of holies; the one that is the cynosure of their faith and whose existence and meaning are threaded through their prayers.
The one that the Arab Muslims deny ever existed. The one on whose ancient site on Temple Mount Jews are barred from praying in case this is used as a pretext by the Arab and Muslim world to start World War Three. The one which the Arab Muslims claim is their third holiest place but which they have turned into a theatre of war from which to attack and murder Jews and other Israelis.
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