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Let it be said from the start that I have considerable sympathies for the Palestinians who seek a safe and rightful homeland in the West Bank and Gaza.

They have been lied to and mistreated in many ways and at many times since the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948. Any objective account of the history will make that clear.

Even so, there is no excuse for the way some Palestinian and Islamic spokesmen have sought to rewrite history by denying that there was ever a Hebrew nation in Palestine.

It is common, for example, for them to deny that there ever was a Hebrew temple on the Temple Mount, even though biblical and extrabiblical records clearly attest to it.

The first temple, built under Solomon, was destroyed by the Babylonians (with help from the Edomites) in 586 BC.

A second temple, far less grand than the first, was completed in 515 BC, after some Hebrews returned from exile and were allowed to occupy Jerusalem and the surrounding area as a subprovince of Persia called Yehud.

Near the end of the first century AD, Herod the Great, who ruled the area in Rome’s behalf, began renovations on the Jewish temple with the intent of making it the grandest structure in the world, and the historian Josephus declared it to be so.

But Islamic clerics routinely deny that a Jewish temple ever existed on the Temple Mount, insisting that the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque were the first religious structures there.

More recently, a Palestinian “scholar” has made the charge that a verse from the Psalms – which has indisputable manuscript going back to the Dead Sea Scrolls in the second century BC – was actually first spoken by a Christian crusader who lived long after the biblical period.

Psalm 137:5, a lament from the time of Israel’s captivity in Babylon, begins with the familiar:

By the rivers of Babylon –
there we sat down and there we wept
when we remembered Zion.

Verses 5-6 of the Psalm declares:

 If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand wither!
Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you …

Palestinian “researcher” Hayel Sanduqa recently announced that the words found in the fifth verse were first uttered by a French Crusader who once ruled the city of Acre, and that the phrase was “borrowed” by Jews in modern times and “falsified in the name of Zionism.”

Give me a break.

If you’re going to lie about something, you should at least come up with a believable fib.

Many ancient copies of the Hebrew Scriptures that predate the Crusades (which took place mainly in the 12th to 13th centuries) clearly demonstrate the mendacity of Sanduqa’s statement, even as mountains of evidence definitively establish the presence of Jewish temples that predate the Islamic structures on the Temple Mount.

This fabrication, of course, is simply one example of how many politicians and pundits around the world (including some outspoken folk in America) advance their cause by lying to the public, somehow believing that if they broadcast a lie often enough, people will believe it.

If the political flim-flam artists are gullible enough to believe their own fictions, perhaps that’s why they also fail to understand that blatant falsehoods reduce their credibility to zero in the eyes of all but the rabid followers who want to believe the lie.

Tony Cartledge is associate professor of Old Testament at Campbell University Divinity School and contributing editor to Baptists Today, where he blogs.

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