Monday, February 12, 2007

New Construction Sparks Old Debate

In a move hoping to defuse anger, the mayor of Jerusalem has ordered a review of construction being done to a walkway near the Dome of the Rock and al-Asqa mosque.

The construction has angered many, who say the construction could harm the third holiest site in Islam and has sparked protests.

The review will not halt preparatory excavations, but is aimed at "proving" Israel will not damage the site. Israel claims it only seeks to repair a earthen walkway that is partially collapsed, but those who are protesting the construction say that Israel will harm the site.

Any sudden moves around the Dome of the Rock, or Noble Sanctuary as Muslims call it, sparks tensions, as the site was formerly occupied by a Jewish Temple which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

It is no secret that the Jews and Christians seek to eventually reclaim this site.

Jews believe the site is "rightfully" theirs and the Christians believe that the Jews must build a Third Temple on the site so that the "Antichrist" can destroy it and usher in the way for Jesus Christ, who will then battle the "Antichrist" and bring about 1,000 years of peace.

When Muslims built the sanctuary it had been abandoned for hundreds of years, and Muslims believe the Rock to be the spot where Prophet Mohammad ascended to heaven -- but that does not stop Jews and Christians from claiming that the site belongs to the Jews.

Because of this, and other factors there is a constant tension that can cause almost any move near the site to cause conflicts, as we witnessed following the visit of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to the site in 2000.

The Israeli's claim they just want to repair a walkway and make sure they are not destroying any artifacts in the process.

But my question is : If the construction is so necessary, why didn't Israel consult with the Islamic authorities first, then propose that qualified Muslims carry out the work? To me, it seems that simple, conflict could have been avoided.

I'm not a Muslim, but it is very easy for me to see the sensitivities involved, after all, Israel has taken everything else of value including the land, so one would naturally assume it was only a matter of time before they moved in on the prize of Jerusalem, the Dome of the Rock.

The media is failing to connect the dots and see the story from both sides, we also have to consider Israel is building a "museum of tolerance" on top of a Muslim graveyard. How's that food for thought? It's the most insulting and absurd thing I have ever heard.

But Israel is a "liberated democracy", you can't say that...

There was a point in time when early Americans showed the same amount of disrespect to the American Indians, who lived in what is now America millenia before the arrival of the Europeans.

Early European settlers systematically cleansed the land of Indians, herding the survivors into "reservations" and calling the Indians who fought back for their land "barbarians" and "animals" as they stole the Indians land and broke their treaties with them.

The settlers also disrespected the graveyards of Indians, desecrating and stealing from them. It appears as if the early settlers of the new Israel are doing the same thing to the Palestinians, the same thing.

Will it take hundreds of years for the world and the Israeli's themselves to realize what they are doing is wrong, just as it took hundreds of years for Americans to recognize what they had done to the American Indians was bad?

However, moving back to the original point of the blog, it would have been simple for Israel to consult with Islamic authorities about the walkway, it doesn't take a genius to figure out when you show up at the holy shrine with a bulldozer people are going to get tense.

The conflict could have been avoided all together if Israel had consulted with Muslims and asked qualified Muslims to repair the walkway if such repairs are indeed necessary.

UPDATE : Turkey to inspect Jerusalem work