1. Here is a link to the piece I wrote, and that Aryeh mentioned. Readers may judge for themselves whether I say what Aryeh suggests I saw. It was posted to the WoW website in May, 2012:

    I broadly agree with Aryeh that discussions of holy sites in this corner of the globe are often decontextualized. Israeli Jews are often themselves ignorant of such issues (I live in Modi’in – a “new” Israeli city in pre-1967 Israel. The city’s numerous archaeological sites include 5 villages that were depopulated in 1948, and that is only within the city’s actual municipal borders. I doubt many Modiinites know that these sites exist, let alone where they are. More to the present point, MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) recently joined WoW but expressed that she did not support Jewish rights on the Temple Mount because the latter is on occupied territory. The ignorance extends to the government itself.

    Tension at holy sites is not limited to Jewish-Muslim or intra-Jewish relations, either. The tensions between Christian denominations over the administration of churches (the Holy Sepulchre, the Nativity, etc.) have persisted for centuries. There is Christian-Muslim tension over holy sites in Nazareth.

    And yet, I disagree with Aryeh that the way to address these tensions is to ignore them until larger issues are discussed and sorted out. On the contrary, I believe that coming to resolutions that are not zero-sum games (through spatial and temporal sharing of sites) actually promote peaceful coexistence. Such arrangements are already in place in numerous sites held sacred by both Jews and Muslims (Nebi Samwil, Me’arat Ha-machpelah, etc.).

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  2. ” This number includes 30 percent of secular Jews, whose likely reasons for wanting to rebuild the Temple are not religious. Rather, their reasons have to do with ownership and sovereignty;”

    This line sounds like you haven’t ever talked to many Israelis (specifically, I am thinking of those not in your social class, like most Mizrahim). Most Israelis who call themselves “secular” profess to believe in much of traditional Jewish theology, and practice a subset of mitzvot like Shabbat candles and separating meat and milk. So it’s not at all surprising that 30% of “secular” Jews would like the Temple rebuilt. The truly nonreligious Jews of Israel, such as most kibbutznikim, form a vibrant but small minority which fits easily into the remaining 70%.

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  3. Good point. I will lobby to get a plaque commemorating the Mughrabi neighbourhood put up in the upper plaza as part of our conditions for moving our prayer service to the pluralistic site.

    Posted by
    Rachel Yeshurun
  4. Dear Aryeh, thanks so much for posting and writing this piece. It is moving and thought-provoking and captures the complexity of what appear to be overly simplistic movements. I will be teaching this in class, it is perfect for a lesson on “intersectionalities”.

    Posted by
    Ayesha S. Chaudhry
  5. These issues are implicated in numerous dilemmas affecting the decisions of Jews in the diaspora to support activities and visit sites involving contested places and topics in Israel. There are many activities and sites that one might choose to refrain from, due to association with ultranationalist perspectives and silencing of other histories. I would question why specifically take a stand with regard to Women of the Wall. Why not take a stand with respect to, say, bar mitzvah trips or the itineraries of Israel travel programs?

    There are many examples around the world, in many cultures, of religious and cultural identities asserted via the bodies of women, by circumscribing women’s dress, movements, and presence in public space. Abstaining from support of Women of the Wall is acceding to one of these limits. Yes, in a better world one would want to acknowledge and enable multiple ethnic and religious histories and reverences of the same physical place. This goal is furthered in one small, incremental step by Rachel Yeshurun’s proposal to have a plaque. I don’t see how this goal is enhanced by excluding Jewish women.

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