Palestinians Claim Big Ben is Theirs

[Article updated 10:30am 5th February 2021]

Propaganda is known to be a major part of the struggle for control of the Holy Land. Accusations of deception are often levelled at both sides of the dispute, but at times the Palestinians make some wild claims.

One of these has come to the attention of the media this week, with the Frontpage magazine revealing that Palestinians want London to give back Big Ben! It highlights a claim by Fatah, the organisation behind the Palestinian Authority, that ‘the Jerusalem Clock is hidden in London today’.

The article by Fatah states that the British military ordered the Jerusalem Clock Tower to be dismantled and moved to another part of Jerusalem. That is true – with Jerusalem under Turkish control the clock was originally placed on the roof of the Jaffa Gate in 1907, and the British had it moved to a modern, less decorative tower at Allenby Square for aesthetic reasons.

But the Fatah article goes on to claim that it was later transferred to a museum in London, before becoming the iconic Big Ben!

Writing for Israel Today, Ryan Jones notes that this claim completely ignores the fact that Big Ben was built in 1859, forty eight years before the Jerusalem Clock Tower was built.

He also points out that Big Ben is 316 feet tall – a significant contrast to the height of the Jerusalem Clock tower (42 feet), which was built near to the Jaffa Gate around 8 years before the British captured Jerusalem from the Ottoman Turks during the First World War.

The Jerusalem Clock Tower (circa 1913)The Jerusalem clock tower at Jaffa Gate, circa 1913 (photo via Gilai Collectibles)

What would prompt the Palestinians to make such a wild, ill-considered claim?

Sadly, it seems to be part of their culture. And that is a significant factor within the disputes over territory in and around Israel – a factor that other countries seem determined to ignore.

Another prime example concerns the most hotly disputed piece of territory – the Temple Mount. Whilst the amount of evidence for it being the site of the First and Second Jewish Temples is overwhelming, the Palestinians argue strenuously that the Temple Mount belongs to them. Indeed, it has become the third most holy site within Islam.

In 2015, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem flew in the face of the overwhelming evidence to claim that there never was a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount. He even went as far as to say that the mount has been home to a mosque “since the creation of the world.”

For those who would like to see a lasting peace agreement in the Middle East, such claims are extremely unhelpful, to say the least!