400 Years of Jerusalem Culture

04Namdar-blog427-v2Ruby Namdar at The New York Times:

Jerusalem’s veneer of harmony, tolerance and inclusiveness is as thin and as alluring as the fine layer of gold covering the gray lead dome standing on the top of the contested Temple Mount, or the Haram al-Sharif as it is called in Arabic. Timeless conflict brews under the beautiful surface of the sacred city, whose many names are yet another manifestation of the continuing rivalry around the “ownership” of its holy sites and symbolic history. The controversial resolution passed by Unesco in October, which attempted to classify the Western Wall, one of Judaism’s holiest sites, as a part of the Muslim Al Aqsa Mosque compound, is yet another step in this long tradition of conflict.

This everlasting rivalry, paradoxically, has only enhanced the beauty and cultural richness of Jerusalem. The various churches and mosques, each competing to have the tallest structure in the sacred city, have invested a fortune in building magnificent minarets and bell towers meant to own the Jerusalem skyline. The warring Christian sects, in their struggle to dominate the sacred Church of the Holy Sepulcher (a struggle that at times has led to almost comical fistfights among priests, monks and ministers), have made great efforts to enhance their part of the space and make it outshine the others. In the same tradition, the great resources allocated by the Israelis to restore and celebrate Jerusalem’s Jewish past have made it an attractive destination for travelers from all around the world.

more here.