Writing for the Gatestone Institute, Palestinian academic Mudar Zahran discovers that it is local Islamic authorities, and not Israel, that are truly threatening the future of Jerusalem's Temple Mount.
Long have local Muslims accused Israel of trying to "Judaize", destroy and cleanse the Islamic presence from the Temple Mount, which today is occupied by two large mosques, one of which, the Al Aqsa Mosque, is now claimed as Islam's third holiest site.
But Zahran, who recently visited the Temple Mount, found evidence that it is not Israel harming the holy site, and that some Muslim staff even wonder how much better the situation could be if the Jews were actually running the show.
"Upon entering the silver-domed mosque, one can quickly notice how neglected [it] is, and badly in need of maintenance," wrote Zahran.
He decided to find out why, and spoke to Muslim grounds keepers, who, naturally, insisted on speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.
"This chaos and indifference rolls down from the senior officials here who enjoy huge salaries compared to the average staff member," a Muslim security guard told Zahran. "You see these scaffoldings? They [the officials] put them up to claim maintenance work is being done in order to beg donors for money. These scaffoldings have been there for years with nothing done... The sheikh here just takes photos of them to show to donors."
Indeed, the writer learned that the Islamic Waqf that oversees the Temple Mount collects donations in the neighborhood of $285,000 each month, but that not a penny is spent on renovations, maintenance or caring for the poor and needy.
One staff member was forced to consider, "Would those Jews do that to us if Al-Aqsa were under their management?"
Still, others continued to toe the party line, insisting, in spite of the clear evidence of Waqf wrong-doing, that "this is all the fault of the Jews."
But Zahran was not fooled, concluding, "It seems that it is we Arabs and Muslims who are harming Al-Aqsa, not Israel or the Jews."