Peace of the Religions at the Temple Mount
An indispensable condition for a sustainable peace in the Middle East:
Since I have started to send out this proposal its perspective has shifted somewhat. Its foreground now is constituted by a practical proposition to the leaders of the three Abrahamic faiths, namely to set up an inter-religious court or an inter-religious mediation-facility – to deal with the much dreaded question:
Who is the rightful owner of “Haram Ash-Sharif”, the “Temple Mount”?
Usually this question is taboo. Ventilating the subject makes emotions run high – revealing that this place has a fundamental impact on the entire Middle East conflict.
The belief of secular forces that tensions can be reduced by simply disregarding the significance of the Temple Mount for religious Jews is in fact no help but an obstacle to solving the conflict because the importance of this place for the Jews cannot be eliminated by any such scheme – and no less its importance for the Muslims. Also to say “there never was a Temple at that site” will not solve the conflict. The discrepancy between the claims of Muslims and Jews will continue to be a perpetual cause of flare-ups in tensions as it has been – from the bloody disturbances of the year 1929 down to the recent protests about repair work on the access ramp at the Western Wall. Whatever peace may be reached politically between Israelis and Palestinians, this place will remain a source of ever renewed antagonism as long as its legal ownership and its proper use are not clarified to everyone’s satisfaction.
The only way to attain sustainable peace therefore is to resolve the dispute by determining the rightful ownership and use of that piece of land. Only an inter-religious legal procedure involving all three Abrahamic faiths will be able to accomplish that. – And a vision of a peaceful solution will be needed beforehand, because without a positive outlook the parties will refuse to take recourse to this inter-religious court.
Hence my proposal.
It can serve as a model for the suggested legal proceedings because it favors not one of the three faiths but all three of them. It provides for a symbolically just distribution of the space available, appropriate to the essence of the three religions. There will be no losers. All three parties will emerge victorious.
In contrast to the approach predominant in the Middle East conflict, the proposal is not problem-oriented but solution-focused:
Since the present is characterized by problems, the proposed image of peace needs to have its roots in the future, in a time when the conflict will be resolved to everybody’s satisfaction. Thus it can show a common sanctuary of the three Abrahamic faiths involving “Haram Ash-Sharif”, the “Temple Mount”, and the future Jewish Temple as one part of it. Not one of the existing structures of “Haram Ash-Sharif” will be touched in the process. Therefore all parties will emerge as winners.
Without having to take anything away from anyone, by accepting this proposal the Jews will gain universal recognition to their right to build a New Temple at the very spot prescribed by Halacha – not implicating that they will have to build it. By fully integrating themselves into the whole of the Abrahamic community the Muslims will gain universal respect for the spiritual dignity of Islam. And the Christians too will gain what they hope for: a deeply humane solution. – For more details please read the articles below.
On the basis of this proposal all parties can dare to send out their envoys to build one common spiritual/clerical/secular court for an unheard of task: the seemingly impossible, but in any case finally unavoidable, and this way even very promising clarification of the rights of ownership and use to that given piece of land, which is the symbolic spiritual center of the whole conflict.
Could the positive transforming power of this image not completely change the political and the religious situation not only of the Middle East but worldwide?
That much for the update, and as information for the ones new to the proposal some of its history:
As you may notice from the reactions below since 2002, the proposal has gotten much international attention.
In 2005 German TV aired a 90-minute public discussion about it between high ranking representatives of the three Abrahamic faiths. Synchronized in Arabic it also has been broadcasted all over the Middle East.
In 2006 I presented the proposal to a large Middle East conference in Amman, WOCMES2. As a result a Palestinian parish priest suggested constructing a model of the proposed common sanctuary in his village. That in turn motivated the Technical University in Munich, Germany, to organize a planning competition for just that purpose.
The articles which follow deal with the question why peace calls for a common sanctuary of the three Abrahamic faiths, why at the Temple Mount, and how that can be made possible.
1. Article, “Why the three Abrahamic religions need a common sanctuary and why at the Temple Mount” http://www.tempel-projekt.de/Why%20it%20needs%20a%20common%20sanctuary_%20short%20Article.htm
2. “A Future Image of Peace”, paper presented to the international Middle East conference in Amman, WOCMES2, hosted by the Royal Jordanian Institute for Inter-Faith Studies in June 2006 http://www.tempel-projekt.de/Paper%20for%20wocmes2%20Amman%202006.htm
3. International reactions: http://www.tempel-projekt.de/Reactions%20to%20the%20project.htm