Jim Davila reports (in PaleoJudaica) about a pamphlet the Israeli military rabbinate passed out for Hanukkah, with a picture in it supposedly of Jerusalem in the days of the Second Temple. The accompanying photo, however, was a photoshopped image of the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif with the Dome of the Rock removed and covered with a wispy ridge of clouds, while still preserving an image of the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the right hand side of the page. The far northern edge of the Dome of the Rock plaza is also still there.
Israel’s military rabbinate released an educational document ahead of the holiday of Hanukkah last month, featuring a photo of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount without the Dome of the Rock, Haaretz learned on Thursday.
The photo was featured in a packet prepared by the Military Rabbinate issued to Israel Defense Forces bases ahead of Hanukkah, under the section titled “The Festival of Jewish Heroism,” which included an article and a quiz on the Jewish struggle against Hellenistic rule.
The photograph is by Mikhail Levit, and I took it from Elder of Ziyon, who found the source. It is from a series of photographs of the Kotel by Levit (available on Jerusalem Shots). None of the other photographs erase the Dome of the Rock.
The IDF explained that the picture lacked the Dome of the Rock because it was “meant to illustrate Jerusalem during the period of the Second Temple. ‘As was explained to the reporter, the Dome of the Rock did not exist at that time, so there was no need for it to appear in the picture,’ the IDF said.” As Jim said, this explanation is “ridiculous.” The picture still has the Al Aqsa mosque in it, as well as the modern Kotel plaza with worshipers on the men’s and women’s sides – something that did not exist during the Second Temple period. No one could mistake this for a picture of Jerusalem in Second Temple times.
So the question is – why did the military rabbinate create a pamphlet for Hanukkah that used a photo that photoshopped away the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount? Was this genuinely an attempt to create an image from the Second Temple period? If so, why not photoshop in an image of the Temple and by the way eliminate the Al Aqsa mosque as well? Also – if this is depicting the Second Temple of Maccabean times, the Kotel shouldn’t be there at all, since it was only when Herod had the Second Temple rebuilt that the platform was expanded in size and the retaining walls were built to support it. Or why not just use a painting of the Second Temple and remove any doubt about what was being depicted.
Could the rabbinate’s use of this image be a hint towards the hope that the Dome of the Rock should be removed and replaced by the Third Temple? In that case, we might expect to see some kind of image of the rebuilt Temple.
It would be useful to see the entire pamphlet – perhaps that would answer these questions.