On July 31, 2020, the New York Times wrote a moving piece about the annual pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the hajj. It described how the coronavirus limited the number of people who could attend the hajj this year and the various steps which the kingdom undertook to try to protect the health of the smaller gathering to Islam’s holiest location.
I looked to see if the Times covered the solemn day of the Ninth of Av (July 30, 2020), when Jews traveled to Jerusalem, the Western Wall and the Jewish Temple Mount to mourn the destruction of the first and second temples. While Jewish media outlets like the Jerusalem Post and Times of Israel wrote about it, the Times ignored the story.
The Times did write a 1,300-word article about the Temple Mount on May 15, 2020 when it described how Muslims could not visit the site for Ramadan because of the pandemic. It seemed that Islam’s third holiest site which has no specific connection to Ramadan was an important focus for the liberal paper even as it ignored writing about the pandemic’s impact on Jews visiting their holiest site on Jewish holidays.
I looked back further to see if the Times covered any of the three Jewish holidays which call upon Jews to visit Jerusalem and the Temple Mount: Shavuot (celebrated May 28-30, 2020), Passover (celebrated April 8-19 this year) and Sukkot (which will be celebrated October 2-9, 2020). It did.
On March 30 it published an article “For Shut-In Pilgrims, the World’s Holiest Sites Are a Click Away,” which covered Jerusalem, Mecca and Rome. While Mecca was devoted to Muslims and Rome to Christians, the Times described Jerusalem from the vantage point of “Passover, Easter and Ramadan — touchstone holidays of three major religions.” Not only was Judaism not worthy of a unique article as was Islam (twice, in May and July), but when an article was written, the other monotheistic faiths were also covered, AND when Judaism’s holiest city was mentioned, it was noted as holy to other faiths as well.
Christianity and Islam pushed their religions globally for over one thousand years, converting and killing non-believers. Their numbers now count in the billions and their faithful are spread around the globe, while the Jewish population was decimated with only about 15 million people today, of which 84% live in Israel and the United States. Arguably the paltry sum of Jews makes them barely worth mentioning to global papers.
But it’s the deliberate denial of Jewish Jerusalem that irks me.
The July 31 NY Times article explained to its readers that “the hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is required for all Muslims who are physically and financially able to go at least once in their lifetimes.” ONCE IN THEIR LIFETIMES. Why only once? Because there are 1.8 billion Muslims living all over the world. After pushing the religion around the globe it is impossible for so many people to come to Islam’s holiest city every year.
In contrast, Judaism calls on all Jews to visit Jerusalem and the Temple Mount THREE TIMES EVERY YEAR. It calls on Jews to do this because the religion was not orchestrated to spread to the corners of the world with forced conversions on the masses, inflating the numbers of adherents. Judaism was designed as a local religion for a small nation, in the Jewish holy land with its holy city in the center.
I appreciate the beautiful article The New York Times wrote about Mecca and Islam. I wonder if it will ever write with such sensitivity about the Jews, Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple Mount.
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