Monday, October 26, 2009

What Happens When The Center Won't Hold

Sunday's violence on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem was evidently rooted in reliable concerns Muslim leaders had about more visits by ultra-orthodox Jews. Secular Jews are allowed relatively easy access by the Muslim council that administers the site, but those in orthodox garb make the authorities more nervous.

It's important to understand that the end-time theories of some Jews, and some Christians as well, depend on the completely bizarre idea of rebuilding the Jewish temple, animals sacrifices and all, where Islam's holy sites now stand. A non-profit organization is actually at work designing and constructing temple fixtures. Imagine having to write the environmental impact report for the gutters of blood.

Violence such as Sunday's is never desirable or justified (he said ritualistically). But while it's one thing to visit the Temple Mount as a tourist or to pray quietly according to one's beliefs, it's quite another thing if you are seen to be measuring the al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock for eventual demolition.

Some Muslims insist there was never a Jewish temple at all. Some Jews are determined to build a new one on Muslim real estate. What's most disheartening is that these zealots may be taking center stage once again now that more responsible Israeli and Arab leaders have so far failed to capitalize on President Obama's risky bid for Middle East peace so early in his term.

Hat tip to Mike Cheever

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