by Dror Eydar
As I wrote this week, the real issue is sovereignty over the Temple Mount.
In this period, known as the three weeks (beginning with the 17th of Tammuz fast that marks the day when the walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Romans in 69 C.E., and ending with the 9th of Av fast that marks the day that both Temples were destroyed), the Jews are not the only ones reflecting on the destruction and rebuilding of Jerusalem. The entire world is turning its eyes to Jerusalem, wondering what will become of the metal detectors installed at the entrance to the Temple Mount compound.
As I wrote this week, the real issue is sovereignty over the Temple Mount. The Muslims realize that the Jews' struggle to return to Zion focuses on Zion -- Jerusalem -- and its crown jewel, the Temple Mount, where our Temple once stood, symbolizing our independence.
The Christians left the Temple Mount in ruins to "prove" that God had abandoned his chosen people and had chosen them instead, because the Jews rejected Jesus' messianic (and divine) status. This view is known as "replacement theology" -- the principle at the foundation of religious anti-Semitism. Fortunately, the Christian world is increasingly rejecting this ideology.
The Muslims also used the Temple Mount in their own version of replacement theology. The Muslim version maintains that the Prophet Muhammad was the last prophet and that Islam is the only true faith -- anyone who does not yield to it is considered an infidel.
After the Muslims conquered Jerusalem in 638 C.E., the Dome of the Rock was built where the Jewish temples had once stood to symbolize that Islam was the "legitimate" heir of the Jewish people's faith. When the Jews returned to Zion in recent history, the Temple Mount became a source of contention. It acts as a sort of seismograph, measuring the Jewish state's progress in settling the land and making its deserts bloom and ultimately enforcing its sovereignty over the land. In these three weeks, we would do well to recall Nathan Alterman's prophecy in 1941, while the Nazis began to close in on the gates of the Land of Israel, in his opus "The Joy of the Poor": "For between the straits, it is not the ones who besiege, but the ones who are besieged who know happiness."
We are only beginning the process. We must have patience.
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