Wednesday, May 16, 2018

An Interesting Morning at the Dome of the Rock

On Sunday May 13, Lani and I went to the Dome of the Rock with the other faculty members and service couples of the Jerusalem Center. We were excited to go inside of the Dome of the Rock with a special tour guide (usually it is closed to non-Muslims).

While we were on the grounds we noticed a group of Orthodox Jews walking around, accompanied by armed police. This was frustrating to our Palestinian guide who wondered why they felt a need to disrupt the worship of Muslims, who hold the area surrounding the Dome of the Rock to be sacred. All of this more complicated by the fact that May 13 was "Jerusalem Day" a controversial holiday that celebrates Jerusalem coming into Israeli control (one can see that while it's a holiday for Israel, it's a huge loss for Palestine).

We got to tour the inside of the Dome of the Rock and it was beautiful. The main feature inside the dome is a large rock, traditionally thought to be where Abraham sacrificed Isaac, and the spot where Solomon's temple stood. This would also have been the spot of the temple in the time of Christ, and is the traditional location of Muhammad's night journey. A lot of history took place here!

We got to go under the rock as well and enjoyed seeing the rock from that vantage point.

As we were going around taking pictures, our guide started to tell us to hurry. We could hear some kind of commotion outside and as we exited the building we could hear chanting outside. While it was not immediately clear what was happening, it seemed like there was some type of altercation between the Jews we had seen previously and Muslim worshipers.

We were told to leave the complex immediately, thus eliminating our tour of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which was our second stop for the morning. I was sorely tempted to walk 20 yards over to where I could get a much better view of the shouting, but did not. Before we got home I found this headline on the Jerusalem Post:

If you watch the video, you'll hear exactly what we were hearing...we were within a rock's throw of it all...As explained in the article, some of the Jews who were there broke the law by worshiping in that area and were called out for it (one was arrested). I was disappointed that such an unnecessary provocation took place.

From the headline and the picture it might seem like the world was about to end. But I want to point out another observation from the morning.

Although we hurried out of the Dome of the Rock complex area, we noticed about 10 minutes later our guide was back at the entrance starting another tour with a new group of tourists. In other words, there was no permanent disruption and anybody who arrived 10 minutes later would have never been aware of the altercation. This taught me something about how news is sometimes packaged and reported. The headline is obviously meant to grab and hold attention -- a person in America reading this news story may have walked away thinking, "Wow, there is a lot of violence there," when actually it was a very safe place to be that Sunday morning.

In any event, we really appreciated the opportunity to tour this sacred spot. That afternoon we drove up with our family to another favorite destination -- the beach! It felt like we were in a completely different world from where we had been that morning...

1 comment:

AdamO said...

Thank you for your perspective! Attention grabbing headlines have definitively painted a different picture in my mind over the years, than what I saw when visiting there with you.