By Christa Case Bryant, Staff writer / September 23, 2013
On a tour of the Temple Mount, Yehuda Glick shows religious Jews a diagram of the Jewish temple, which once stood where the golden Dome of the Rock stands today.
Trailed by a group of religious Jews, an Israeli police escort, and a Muslim community representative, Mr. Glick responds in Hebrew, “Shalom – peace to you all.” Behind him rise the two sites that make Jerusalem the third-holiest city in Islam: the Al-Aqsa mosque and the golden Dome of the Rock, a Muslim shrine commemorating the prophet Mohammed’s ascension to heaven. It is built on the spot where Jews believe the very presence of God once rested in the Jewish temple. This is considered the holiest place in Judaism, yet it has been largely off-limits to Jewish worshipers because of concerns that range from violating Jewish law to provoking riots.
But in recent years, religious Jews are increasingly asserting their right to be here and are pushing for Israel to claim sovereignty over the Temple Mount. Their effort is testing the resolve of the Israeli government and the patience of 1.6 billion Muslims around the world. At stake are freedom of worship and the future of the most contested sacred space in the world. And the effort could potentially inflame the Israeli-Arab conflict, which is increasingly taking on a religious tone.
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