Tag Archives: Dome of the Rock


BLOG 227 – November 24, 2014

It’s been a tough week in the Middle East. The murder of four Jewish worshippers in a synagogue at the hands of knife swinging, cleaver cutting, pistol packing Palestinians has once again set the region on edge. The Palestinian cousins were shot and their houses in East Jerusalem destroyed, but the matter is not settled. Clergy representing Jews, Muslims, and Christians publically met in unison and called for calm. The Greek Patriarch, Latin Patriarch and an Iman from Acre condemned the assault. However, Muslim authorities and senior Israeli rabbis were not present.

The savage pounding Hamas received in Gaza and their precarious political position has caused them to set off such killings as a symbolic gesture making them appear significant and forceful. Of course, the killings are actually a sign of frustration and failure. But symbolic acts are an important part of what keeps the pot boiling in Israel and Palestinian territories.

The PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) has just declared they will change the name of the Temple Mount to the Al Aqsa Mosque or the Noble Sanctuary.  The new declaration was the result of rioting and unrest around the Temple Mount area. Apparently, the PLO believes a name change will support their cause.

The problem is that the issue is not semantics, but sovereignty.

The Muslims and Jews have two different interpretations of what this important religious area is about. Muslims say a Jewish temple never stood there, but Mohammed and his horse leaped into heaven from where the Dome of the Rock stands. The Jews say two Temples existed there centuries before Mohammed was born. Part of the problem for the Muslims is that the earliest claims for Mohammed’s ascent to heaven were prompted by his recognition of the holiness of the two temples that once stood there. Today, Muslims would attempt to deny and suppress that story. These two symbolic viewpoints are at the heart of the recent violence.

Muslims are fearful that the Jews will claim the sacred area, tear down the Dome of the Rock, and rebuild the Temple. Probably, the motivation for the two Palestinian killers attack arose from this fear.

While the Netanyahu government will never contemplate or condone such an attack, there are Jewish leaders who favor such an idea. It is now claimed that some members of the Israeli Parliament are prepared to sponsor legislation to rebuild the Third Temple on the site of the Dome of the Rock. Muslims believe the Jews are counting the days until this occurs.

America went through an apocalyptic mindset in the 80’s anticipating the world would enter its final days by the year 2,000. When the clock kept ticking and nothing happened, that viewpoint virtually disappeared. In these blogs, we have never pandered an apocalyptic perspective because it is speculative. However, significant elements in the Jewish world are now embracing such a viewpoint. They believe the reconstruction of the Temple will bring in the Messianic age and the world will embrace their viewpoint. This segment of Judaism is willing to push the issue because they believe it will bring the Messiah.

Behind the semantics and clashing viewpoints is a battle over sovereignty. Who rules? The battle is far from over.

Stay tuned.

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            Much that happens in the Middle East comes as the result of attrition, slow deliberate attempts that often are accomplished only in small increments. The Western world generally thinks in quite different terms that expects results overnight. The war in Afghanistan has taken over 10 years and nearly collapsed the American economy. Unthinkable! Not so in the Middle East.

            Columbus Day has come and gone, reminding Americans of the landing in 1492. (Of course, Columbus only came ashore and found the Indians that had been here forever) But the distance from 1776 to 2014, is a drop in the bucket. Egypt stretches back to pre-historic times. Israel calls this year 5774 on their calendar. The Middle East still ruminates over the Crusades that began in the first millennium and ended in the 1200’s. They operate with the awareness that their children’s children may have to finish a task they are working on.

Currently, a struggle over the control of the Temple Mount is increasing. Increasing numbers of Jews are visiting this ancient area in Jerusalem’s old city. Palestinian leaders are saying that the developing activity has created the worst tension in years around the Al Aksa Mosque and Dome of the Rock. They are now calling on Muslims to resist these incursions. This results in periodic stone throwing by the Muslims. Israeli police show up and arrest the trouble makes. Recently, an Israeli police officer was wounded while thousands of Arabs rallied in the north because of a warning that Al Aksa was in danger. Of course, the ramifications of these uprisings only perpetuates suspicion and ill-will.

The 37-acre site is probably the most contested religious ground on earth. Jews know it is the site of the first and second Temple. Muslims believe Muhammad ascended to heaven from that spot. Thousands of tourists come every year. The battle for who has rights to the site continues.

Recently, The New York Times reported a similar tension in the Syrian civil war. With thousands of immigrants living over the border in Jordan, the rebel fighters steal across the border to fight and then return to their families living in the immigrant camps.

A Syrian rebel soldier comes home to the children in places like Ramtha, Jordan. Modern electronics allows them to keep in touch and even see their families while the battles go on. Often, they will be gone for weeks before they return home. Of course, the possibility of being killed remains high and the families wait with anxiety.

The Syria war wears on year after year. Currently, the agreement between Russia and America has set in motion the removal of chemical weapons, but this will not halt the continual journeys of rebels who journey in and out of Jordan.

If the war can only be won by taking it an inch at a time, their response is, “so be it.” The Western world rushes off to its next appointment while computers impatiently glance at their watches, thinking I’ve got to find a way to get their more quickly.

Sorry. the middle east thinks more slowly … but also more deliberately!

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Filed under Israel, middle east, Muslims, Syria, Uncategorized