holy unfair

I’ve mentioned Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock in the past few posts but until yesterday I had no real idea what they looked like. I was blown away when I made it there…the colours, the light, the energy of the place all combined to make it somewhere very special, so I thought I’d try to share it with a few images. Of course they don’t – can’t – do it justice.
I have visited some beautiful places in the past but I think this one might be the winner so far…it really captured me and it was difficult to peel myself away from the peace and quiet and to return to the hectic old city (beautiful and fascinating though it is).

Temple Mount, the name for this area, is an important place for people of several faiths. Jews believe God gathered earth from here to create Adam, and that this was the spot where Abraham planned to sacrifice his son Isaac before an angel intercepted and repaced him with a ram.
They built several temples here over the millenia, but all that is left of them is the Western – or wailing – Wall, believed to be part of the second temple. That is an interesting place to see, but doesn’t touch the mount in terms of aesthetics.

There have been Roman temples to Zeus and churches here since the time of the Jewish temples but now it’s home to the two mosques. Muslims believe the site of the Dome of the Rock – the blue building pictured – was the spot where the prophet Mohammed ascended into heaven.
Many Jewish people would like to build another temple here…a provocative visit to the site by former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, then an election candidate, is widely blamed for kick-starting the second Palestinian intifada – or uprising – which is still going on although in a less violent way that at its height.

As with everything in this region though, you just can’t escape the politics. I don’t think you can visit a site like this and not think about the politics and the abuses of human rights that are happening here every day.
It doesn’t seem right that I – a non-Muslim foreigner with a magic red European passport – can sit entranced by this building when almost three million Palestinians, to whom it means so much more, can’t do the same.
For the believers here – and Palestinians generally are fervent people – Israel’s control over who can visit key religious sites like this causes as much bitterness as the more everyday humiliations that they go through.
But I guess that suits a government that wants to remind a population who is in charge.

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