Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Temple Mount Disengagement & the 3rd Temple
PEACE سلام שלום
I will start off by proclaiming 3 truths about metaphysical, physical, and political reality, as it pertains to the everlasting conflict between the 3 monotheistic faiths in Jerusalem.
1. The Messiah will never come.
2. The Muslim claim to the Temple Mount complex will never attenuate.
3. All holy places were contrived at some point in time.
These truths being rather self-evident, a new Disengagement solution has become necessary to implement. If Jews are serious about making the 3rd Temple a reality, which I believe could materialize sucessfully, then they must take heed of the above facts. The status quo for Jews is focused upon worshipping a retaining wall with weeds throughout, bird excrement above, and angry Arabs on the other side. Judaism, the faith of the Judean polity, is undoubtedly a tribal, visceral, and earthen faith at heart. Yet, the time has come to cease worshipping a wall of somewhat inane significance. The physicality of the Western Wall is proof of the 2nd of two temples that existed upon the Temple Mount during the period of Roman rule over Judea. The consecration of this stone wall in contemporary times is highly indicative of the pain and suffering with which Jews yearned over the years to return to the Promised Land. There needed to be some concrete focal point for the diasporic aspirations. The wall symbolized infinite longing, unending lamentations, and eventual gathering of the exiles. It also united Jews in their belief in the sanctity of one location and created a sense of historical awareness in the prior dominion of the Jewish people in the Holy Land.
However, the wall shall no longer be the focal point of Jewish ritual observance. Jewish folks, though perpetually united in their connection to the land of their ancestors and the land of their current nation-state, deserve better than to worship a mere wall. The wall signifies the ongoing battle for geopolitical domination over the Temple Mount and juxtaposes the black-hatted Hasids below davening towards the east with the prostrating Mohammedans atop the mount directing their fervor southeastwards. The situation is ridiculous at best, warlike at worst. The conflict over Jerusalem's heart has led to the death of many heathens and believers. Prior to the Israelite conquest over 3300 years ago, Mount Moriah was revered by the Jebusites as the shrine of their favorite god Shalem, and this spot will always be revered. The site has thus changed spiritual hands many times, most recently as a result of the Arab conquest. It will change hands again one day. Either way, there is a better way to arrange this Holy City for the time being. There is a way to relinquish Jewish claim to the Temple Mount. The Holiest of Holies exists no more. Time for a drastic change. Jews must stop directing their collective spiritual energies towards a void, towards something that existed previously but that has since disappeared. The time has come to stop praying for some ridiculous eventuality. Messianic dreams, while encouraging to the faithful, are in vain. They are a reflection of idolatrous desires, anti-humanistic yearnings, and irrational prayer. Belief in the future arrival of a Messiah are primitive, ignorant, and misguided. Perpeuating messianic ideology is a boon to the faithful, for it gives them a reason to wake up in the morning and a teleological sense of inspiration. I cannot deride folks for having faith in something or someone that uplifts them. This is not my aim in critiquing the messianic ideology. However, I do intend to dislodge reliance on this mode of thought. Granted, messianic Jewish groups are somewhat fringe, but there is no doubt that mainstream Jews use the religious fringe to carry out the religious mission of the state of Israel. Religious-Zionists and Haredim are bestowed with the ability to do the Jewish people's religious bidding, and secular folks have consented to this arrangement. It is up to the religious folks to fight explicitly for the goals that mainstream folks are afraid to engage. It is time for an end to this age-old messianic element of Judaism, and it is time to carry out another Disengagement, on the psychological and physical fronts. The faith must evolve, and I will readily support belief in some sort of messianic age or idealized world. But, the hijacking of Judaism by messianic proponents must end.
Muslim domination of the Holy Mount exists presently. Although the area is under Israeli sovereignty, Jordanian religious authorities exert control over the buildings and the spiritual infrastructure of the site. Although security control is supremely in the hands of the Jewish political leadership, this dominion takes the form of colonial overlordship and does not actually translater into influence over how the Islamic holy sites operate. True, Israeli military officials can limit the number of worshippers in the event of security problems. True, Israel's government can unilaterally (with severe consequences) decide to undertake digging at the periphery of the Temple Mount. Yet, for all intents and purposes, Muslim holy sites are not going anywhere. The Muslim world would not stand for any type of challenge to their religious dominion over a place where Shalem, Abraham, Jesus, and Mohammed (and also numerous ordinary folks with Jerusalem Syndrome) have flexed their spiritual muscle. Regardless, Muslims aren't relenting. They've built two incredibly beautiful religious structures atop the Temple Mount. Let's admire the spiritual and aesthetic value that these buildings add to the Holy City. Jews need not challenge Muslims for control over this sacred space. Leave the Temple Mount to the Muslims. They've done nice things with the area. Though it was indeed taken by force and though Muslims often have not respected the holy sites of other faiths, it is time to respect the permanence of the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa. While Islam, like all religions, is deeply flawed - the Muslim Temple Mount is worthy of tremendous respect.
Next, I must clarify that there is absolutely no problem with creating something entirely new in Jerusalem. The time has come to build a 3rd Temple in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. If need be, the walls of the Old City can be expanded to include the expanse of the brand new temple complex. Think universal, think tribal, think eternal! This renaissance of temple life is concurrent with the reJEWvenation of Israel itself. Jews are entitled to be proud of their creations in the political and spiritual spheres. Jews should not attempt to wrest control of the Temple Mount from the Muslims, even if it was the location of oh-so-many, oh-so-central historical-mythological events. Jews should triumphantly erect a new, 3rd Temple in the part of the city that is currently theirs. I am in favor of importing a huge quantity of dirt in order to raise the elevation of the Western Wall Plaza and adjacent sections inside and outside the Turkish-built Old City walls. The 3rd Jewish Temple should be at least as visible as the Muslim holy sites on the Temple Mount. History is all about reinventing identity and place, and now is the perfect time to revitalize Jerusalem and renew the value of the Jewish presence in the city. Enough of yearning for something that will never happen. Time to create a majestic temple once again.
Being practical is acceptable nowadays. Jews should settle for what makes rational sense and what minimizes geopolitical conflict. Muslims have no right to dictate what Jews do with the Jewish quarter of the Old City. The golden rule is supposedly at the heart of the Jewish faith, and so, in order to be a light unto the nations, Jews should renounce all desire to return to the Temple Mount and shift their focus to a new temple. The current Western Wall can continue to be a retaining wall for the new Jewish Temple Mount complex to the West of the Wall. The Wailing Wall can continue to divide the Jewish section of the Old City from the Muslim Quarter. Enough of these rabbinical, ministerial, and ridiculous visits to the Temple Mount. Jews should act as a mensch for the rest of the world. There's a Jewish Quarter that can be expanded, emboldened, and heightened to proportions befitting a 3rd Temple. Israel should not constantly challenge Muslim control. Instead, it should disengage from the struggle over the Temple Mount and build anew.
The recent Jerusalem Day national-religious parade through the Arab areas of Jerusalem renewed my antagonisms towards rightwing Zionists. These folks truly enjoy flaunting Jewish domination over Arab people. I resent the way that these fanatics give Israel a bad name. By recklessly asserting Israeli rule over Arab East Jerusalemites, these festive extremists make life difficult for security forces, mainstream Israelis, and all Arabs. There is no problem with Jews being proud and patriotic. However, these national-religious paraders thought it fit their day's duties to bang on the doors and walls of homes and businesses in the Arab sections of the Old City. Jewish chauvinism and Islamic chauvinism are close kin. I feel highly uncomfortable when exposed to either one. Clearly, both forms of fundamentalist expression are in response to the other. However, the existence of reactionary Islamism is no excuse for the emergence of callous, disgusting religious Zionism. The blatant disrespect that these folks displayed was unfathomable. I had not thought that Jews were capable of showing this sort of attitude towards fellow Jerusalemites. Clearly this was possible only due to the massive security presence, which enabled taunting and other absurdities. The time has come to limit the power of these extremists and build anew a temple that buttresses the power of the proud, spiritual, and respectful folks that belong to the civilized world. This region cannot be dominated by polarized factions of immature fanatics whose world is one of primal fantasy and tribal strife.
The 3rd Temple's architecture should be a combination of styles. Though the construction process will be the most highly contentious building campaign ever undertaken, I think the Temple should be a hybrid of Cubist-Modernist, Moorish, Jerusalemite, Byzantine, Turkish, and Expressionist-Futurist influences. Let the design competition commence.
The 3rd Temple period shall last for time immemorial and shall usher in a new era of justice, unity, and humanity.
PEACE سلام שלום