The asymmetry between the seriousness with which Moslems relate to al-Aqsa and our disregard for holy places shows the desire for the national homeland to be a wild dream.
During recent years, experts have been telling us how pragmatic and content with a minimum, Zionist leaders like Ben-Gurion were. However, even if we totally ignore the ‘maximalism’ of Ben-Gurion’s efforts (which angered the Arabs and the post-Zionists), the claim does not hold water.
Zionist leaders were satisfied with a minimum because previously they had nothing. However, they always wanted more than they had. You would never have heard them say that the “dream” must remain a dream. Moderate pragmatism applied only to realization of the dream, which is limited by circumstances, not to the vision. Vision that is consciously transformed into a dream that need not be fulfilled, is the opposite of Zionism.
If the Zionist leaders had implemented today’s minimalist advice to be satisfied with a dream, we would have, at best, nothing more than what the historical “Covenant of Peace” movement would have wanted: an Arab state with a autonomous Jewish minority. The Temple Mount is the holiest place of the Jewish people. Not only for religious Jews.
For the people: the Temple that destroyed twice was the main symbol not only of the Jewish religion but also of Jewish sovereignty. The Temple Mount is a symbol of the flourishing Jewish life that thrived here. The Western Wall, which has minimal historical significance, is a symbol of the destruction, decay and conquest of the Land of Israel by foreign forces.
The apathy that part of Israel’s Jewish population shows towards the importance of history and the holiness of the Temple is enunciated the total asymmetry in the way that we and the Arab world relate to the national struggle. Just imagine what the dreamers would consider a reasonable Zionist reaction if the Arabs were to blow-up the Western Wall, which they claim is, for practical purposes, the holiest Jewish site.
Would they rally around the flag, take-up arms, shout battle cries and begin an apocalyptic war against the Arab world? Apparently not. They would call that war “fanatical” and “barbarian”. Why then, do you think, that al-Aqsa, whose holiness has greatly increased since it has seemingly been in Jewish hands, has been the catalyst
For just such a war?
This asymmetry between the Jewish disregard for the holiest Jewish place, a real, historical site, and the seriousness with which Moslems relate to the Dome of the Rock (which may not even be the site referred to in the Koran), shows the desire for a Jewish national homeland to be a wild dream.
If we carry no baggage, lack affinity, have no commitment to history and tradition, feel no obligation to promote and build our vision, and do not attribute holiness to our past, our land, religious symbols and historical sovereignty but agree that the Arabs consider everything holy, we do not have a chance.
If “enlightened” Zionism accepts holiness only when it belongs to someone else, we can start packing. The desire to build the Third Temple is worthy, Jewish and Zionist in the highest degree. The fact that there is a group of daydreamers that want to return to the kingdom of the Second Temple period (as if it were similar to that of the First Temple period) should not hide this from us. If only a way could be found to rebuild it.
This is not necessarily a cause for war. If the Moslem wanted, it could be done peacefully with proper respect for the place’s holiness for Jews (an ambition far from current reality since they are currently destroying the remains of the Temple), if they would let us pray there. If they don’t accept our sovereignty? Then there would be a war in any case.
The writer is a secular doctoral candidate at Tel Aviv University.