Mideast Holy Sites Take Center Stage

By Rns | The Christian Century, November 1, 2000 | Go to article overview

Mideast Holy Sites Take Center Stage


Rns, The Christian Century


Outside of Jerusalem's Old City walls, a group of Palestinian youths denied entrance to the site sat on the grass and concrete during noontime prayers and listened to a sermon that declared, "The Jews are our enemies, and we will beat them."

Meanwhile, at the Western Wall on the eve of Judaism's pilgrimage holiday of Sukkot, when Jews from around Israel typically stream to the city's Jewish sites, just one lone group of right-wing religious Jewish youths danced in a circle shouting, "The Temple Mount is ours; it belongs to the Jews."

With violence raging around them, holy sites have become an integral part of the battlefield in a region where religion is a force driving nationalist hatreds rather than sentiments of tolerance or understanding. "Holy space here is exploited in terms of political interests," said David Rosen, an Orthodox rabbi active in interreligious dialogue. "Spiritual attachment becomes a means of staking your claim."

For both Jews and Arabs, that has certainly been the case at the Al Aksa mosque and Western Wall sites, ever since the first Arab disturbances were triggered by a visit to the mosque compound by Israeli hardliner Ariel Sharon. Since then, each successive Friday noontime Muslim prayer encounter has been watched, recorded and analyzed for indications of where the broader dispute is heading.

On the weekend of October 6-7, Israel emptied the Western Wall of Jewish prayergoers and handed security of the area over to Palestinian security forces; Orthodox Jews accused the government of "abandoning" the holy site. But on October 13, Jews were allowed back in, while only 3,500 Muslims were granted access. "We are surrounded by Israel's occupation," declared Sheikh Ekrima al Sabri, the preacher at Al Aksa Mosque. "Never before in my memory have so few Muslims been permitted to pray here."

But the scrabble for religious space has not been limited to Jerusalem. A series of other religious sites--both Jewish and Arab--in Jericho, Jaffa, Tiberias and Nablus, also have been drawn into the vicious circle of mob attack, retaliation and counterattack.

At the very outset of the conflict, it was the Jewish-held Joseph's Tomb that claimed the limelight. Set inside the West Bank Palestinian city of Nablus, the 16th-century Islamic domed shrine is revered by Muslims as the burial place of a medieval Islamic sheikh named Youssef and in some Jewish circles as the burial place of the biblical patriarch Joseph.

Under the 1993 Oslo peace agreement, Israel withdrew from Nablus, and the graceful domed Joseph's Tomb became the center of a tiny Jewish enclave within an Arab city. Concrete block walls strung with barbed wire were built around the medieval shrine, transforming it into a fortified army camp. Arabs were barred altogether from the site, and Jews could gain access only with military permission.

On the first weekend in October, after sustaining nine days of Palestinian attacks on the compound, which claimed the life of one Israeli soldier, Israel finally abandoned the tomb under the cover of night, prompting immediate cries of protest from the Israeli religious right.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Mideast Holy Sites Take Center Stage
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.