In a recent feature article entitled, “Last chance to see: 25 magnificent structures on the verge of extinction,” CNN reporter Jacopo Prisco lists the 6th century Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem as the number one endangered structure. Why? In the words of the reporter:
A holy city for three different religions, it attracts millions of tourist with over 200 monuments, including the majestic Dome of the Rock. But political tension has hardened relations between Israel and UNESCO, preventing any preservation plans from moving forward.
In the meanwhile, the Sunni extremists of ISIS destroy the ancient city and artifacts of Palmyra in Syria and blow up mosques at will, rivaling the Taliban in Afghanistan who dynamited the majestic Buddhas of Bamiyan back in 2001. Yet, it is the Dome of the Rock which is the most threatened structure on earth. The CNN author’s analysis is analogous to someone criticizing a homeowner for not sweeping the floor of his home while vandals are torching entire neighborhoods around the same house.
This is a slander against Israel, which is the only nation in the Middle East that in practice respects the right to worship of other religious faiths. Although Israel does not have a constitution, the Basic Laws of Israel as well as statutes enacted by the Knesset and Supreme Court decisions protect the free practice of religion within the country. In fact, many Jews know all too well that their own right to pray on the Temple Mount – the holiest site for the Jewish people – are restricted out of deference to Islamic and political sensitivities.
The CNN reporter appears to have adopted some of the arguments and logic contained in a report issued by the Kingdom of Jordan and “State of Palestine” to the UNESCO World Heritage Center in March of 2015. Any fair minded person could see that much of that report was a propaganda hit job against Israel, part of which criticizes Israel of promoting “Judaization construction projects in the Old City of Jerusalem.” Yet, this report itself admits there are conservation projects undertaken by the Jordanian Awqaf of the plastering and mosaic decorations inside the Dome of the Rock and marble restoration of the interior walls within the Dome of the Rock.
This is not the first nor the last time CNN will shade its reporting with a bias against Israel. Anyone following last summer’s war in Gaza using CNN as its only source of news could be pardoned for not realizing that it was Hamas that launched hundreds of missiles and rockets into Israel before the Jewish state began its ground campaign.
Particularly with the extreme instability and violence engulfing the Middle East, Israel provides the only haven for the free exercise of religion of all faiths within the region. It is truly inspiring to see people of all faiths and manner of dress walk to and through the Old City of Jerusalem in relative peace and tranquility to pray and engage in their own faith and traditions. For CNN to imply otherwise is nothing less than an unprovoked attack on Israel and its values.