Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Most Controversial Site

Foreign Policy magazine decided to make up a list. A list of the world's most controversial religious sites.

As they explained,

Politics and religion can be a deadly concoction. Nowhere is that more true than at the world’s holiest shrines, temples, mosques, and churches. From Japan to South Carolina, FP takes a look at some of the world’s most contentious religious sites—and the politicians who inflame their faithful followers.

Here it is and I've selected the Temple Mount to highlight:-

The List: The World's Most Controversial Religious Sites

The Temple Mount / Haram al-Sharif
Jerusalem, Israel

Why it matters: The focal point of the Crusades, it’s still the most contested religious spot in the world. To Jews, it is the hallowed Temple Mount, site of the first and second Jewish temples and the place where a third will be built when the Messiah returns. To Muslims, it is known as Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, home to the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, where Muslims believe Mohammed ascended to heaven. Together, as Time magazine has noted, that makes this corner of Jerusalem’s Old City the “most controversial 35 acres on Earth” and “as dangerous these days as a ticking atom bomb.”

What’s the rub: Neither side wants to share this holy site. Violent clashes between Jews and Muslims over prayer and other rights to the Temple Mount date back to at least the 1920s. In 1996, Israeli excavation work near the site resulted in riots that killed 75 people. Ariel Sharon’s walk here in September 2000 sparked the second intifada uprising, [not true - YM] which continues nearly seven years later and has taken the lives of thousands. The site continues to be a flashpoint: Recent Israeli excavation work near al-Aqsa was enough to convince Muslims to declare a worldwide “day of anger” last month.

What’s next: More violence. Israel is rebuilding a pedestrian ramp, which had existed under a long-standing agreement, that gives tourists and Israeli security forces access to the Temple Mount. The original ramp was damaged in a 2004 earthquake and rebuilding it might have been simple enough were it not for Israel’s decision to double the capacity of the ramp. Israel claims the increased size will accommodate more tourists. Muslims fear it will also accommodate more security forces.

1 comment:

Suzanne Pomeranz said...

"In 1996, Israeli excavation work near the site resulted in riots..."

Like what happened in September 200, this is also not true - the excavation work in the tunnels had been completed, the "back door" to the Kotel Tunnels was already opened and the shopkeepers nearby it (on the via Dolorosa) were pleased as punch that more tourists would not walk near their shops.

The same Arab terrorist "leadership" which planned and encouraged the second "intifada" (which is an inappropriate word since it implies spontaneity) also planned the violence of September 1996.

The "focal point of the Crusades" was NOT the Temple Mount but rather the deliverance of the Eastern Church from what Pope Urban II called the "infidels". Under Byzantine Christianity (324-638 when the Moslems arrived, ah, for the FIRST time), Jerusalem was officially (though not actually) "judenrein" (from Church policy) and the distinction of the Temple Mount as the "naval of the earth" had been moved to the site of the Anastasis (later called by the Crusaders, as well as today, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre). In fact, in those Byzantine years, the local Christian population used the Temple Mount as their garbage dump. When Caliph Omar arrived in 638, he understood the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and not only began cleaning away the garbage & rubble himself but hired Jews (who came back into the city with him) to finish the cleaning and to guard the Mount.

One more comment, lest anyone actually agree with FP's acceptance of myths & legends as fact: the "night journey" of Muhammed 1) was accomplished in a dream (I fly all over the world in my dreams, but so far, I haven't built any monuments at those sites) and 2) no where in the Koran or Hadith is it suggested that Jerusalem is "al-Aksa" (the far away sanctuary) which, actually, deems that distinction false (IMH, though learned, O).