Thursday, June 18, 2009

Another Attempt at the Idea of Sharing

From Reuters:

...clerics in Jerusalem launched a project on Thursday aimed at finding a way to share the city's holiest, and most fought over, site.

Even the Jewish religious scholar promoting it acknowledges it might need divine intervention before a peaceful remapping of the area where Muslims built the 7th century Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque on the site of the biblical Jewish Temple.

"We offer this vision for a long and deep discussion, and of course want to continue with a parallel research from other religions," said Yoav Frankel, director of the project promoting a vision of "God's Holy Mountain" (

Invitations to Thursday's launch conference depict a sunlit imagined future for the area Jews call Temple Mount. Happy Muslims and harp-playing Jews mingle between the Dome of the Rock and a new Temple, as Christians walk over from the nearby Sepulchre Church, traditional site of Jesus's resurrection.

The project, headed by Jewish members of the Interfaith Encounter Association ( encourages all three faiths to re-examine the complex and perhaps foster a new theological outlook, making room for all to worship there.

But Frankel conceded it may take more than debate of Jewish law, or halacha, to alter centuries of tradition in favor of a compromise by which Jews would agree to build a temple nearby, not in the spot traditionally regarded as the correct site -- right where the Dome has stood since the 7th century.

"Regular halachic discussion will not be powerful enough," Frankel said, referring to the need for a "holy revelation" to make such a shift possible in Jewish tradition.

...It still lies at the heart of Israeli-Palestinian conflict and sovereignty over the holy sites remains a sticking point in international efforts to draft a final peace settlement.

Not even all members of the interfaith group, which is dedicated to religious coexistence, favor the new project...Muslim cleric Abdullah Darweesh, who was to speak at the official project launch on Thursday, said all "holy Christian and Islamic sites should be under Arab sovereignty."

...Since the Second Temple was destroyed under Roman rule in AD 70, Jews have prayed at the Western Wall, part of the ruins.

Many Orthodox Jews believe they must not set foot on the Temple Mount itself for fear of treading on the now unknown site of the inner sanctum. Some groups, however, call for Israel to seize the site and rebuild the temple, a step some believe would then herald the return of the Messiah and a time of world peace.

Let's try a two-step approach:

first, small archeological survey digs to determine if indeed Mount Moriah exists under the Temple Mount platform;

second, a small room, located in the collonaded walkway along the western section of the Haram compound, to be closed off for Jewish prayers.

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