Opinion |

Jews Don’t Have a ‘Holiest’ Site

The urge to reconsecrate the Temple Mount debases what's distinguished Jews for two millennia: recognition of the need for substitutes to sacred space

It is routine to speak of the ancient Temple Mount as Judaism’s holiest site, a claim confounded only by its being Islam’s third-holiest site. A new Israel Democracy Institute poll tells us that half of Jewish Israelis sympathize with expansion of prayer services on the Mount’s plateau, though most of those tie their sympathy to their aspiration to political sovereignty. Older polls suggest that perhaps a third favor rebuilding the Temple; among those are a small but growing handful of people actively working to revive ritual sacrifice in anticipation of such a day, to be brought about by political, military — or supernatural — means. Mere rumors of Jewish worship catalyze Islamist zealotry in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Israel proper – and roil streets as far away as Bangladesh. Here in Jerusalem, as Israel begins its 75th year of independence, religious war is in the air.

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