Photo: AP
Amos Oz
Photo: AP

Holy sites can wait

Question of holy sites' ownership less urgent than terror, refugee problem

The Jerusalem mayor's decision to delay the building of the Mugrabi Gate bridge at Temple Mount is a wise and rational one and worthy of praise.


Particularly worthy of praise is the mayor's argument: His wish to allow all Jerusalem residents to express their views on the matter, so that it can be built with understanding and mutual consent between Jews and Arabs.


It would be appropriate if this argument would also lead to the postponement of the archeological excavations taking place at the foot of the Temple Mount opposite the Mugrabi Gate: Similar to the disputed excavations undertaken by the Muslim Waqf under the Temple Mount two years ago, these excavations are also sparking the fires of religious dispute over the question of who in fact is the proprietor of the Temple Mount holy sites.


This question must not be debated because there is no way to provide a consensual response and a debate is likely to lead to bloodshed.


Within the overall dispute comprising the Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab war, the question of ownership over the holy sites is less urgent and less in need of an immediate solution: The question of Palestinian terror is a more urgent question because people are being killed.


The question of the Israeli occupation and settlements accompanying the occupation is an urgent question because people are being repressed and humiliated as a result. The question of the Palestinian refugees is an urgent matter because hundreds of thousands of people have been rotting in refugee camps for the past 60 years under inhumane conditions.


Grandmother's advice

And the controversial question over the ownership of the holy sites can wait because no one has died as a result of the preservation of a temporary arrangement between Jews and Muslims, a type of flimsy status quo that neither side is happy with, but doesn't warrant risking the lives or the welfare of either side.


In a dispute with religious dimensions, there is no need to decide and there is no point in trying to pull the blanket in either direction. Human history is soaked with rivers of blood spilled because of the desire to forcefully choose between the various faiths and religions.


The Temple Mount status quo and at the Western Wall compound should be carefully preserved and attempts should not be made to change it either way: The question of ownership over the holy sites is open and should remain so. Open until when?


When I was a little boy my grandmother simply explained the difference between Jews and Christians. The Christians, said my grandmother, believe that the Messiah has already been here once and will one day return.


The Jews believe that the Messiah has not yet come, but will arrive shortly. Plenty of innocent blood has been spilled over this dispute, said my grandmother, along with persecutions and even hatred. For what? Asked my grandmother. Instead of spilling blood, we can simply wait and see.


If the Messiah comes and says: Hello there, it's good to see you again - the Jews would have to admit their mistake. But if he comes and says: Nice to meet you - the Christian world would have to apologize to the Jews. Until then, let's live and let live, said my grandmother.


And this is the only possible answer to the question of the Temple Mount and the Western Wall: Live and let live within the fragile status quo in place since 1967, without trying to change it unless there is mutual consent.


פרסום ראשון: 02.13.07, 17:28
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