In Jerusalem’s Old City lies the Alexa mosque within the Dome of the Rock, a site of profound religious significance. For Jews, it’s the Temple Mount , while for Muslims, it’s the noble sanctuary. This location stands as one of the most contested religious sites globally, steeped in historical and spiritual significance. Jews hold a deep belief that the first and second temples once graced this ground, while Muslims revere it as the place where Mohammed ascended to heaven. This 37-acre area is under strict Islamic control, prohibiting non-Muslims from prayer or any religious activity. For some, like Rahab Vizier, the restrictions are uncompromising, but opinions vary. A fringe of right-wing Israelis challenges these constraints, while mainstream Jewish visitors increase.
This surge in visitors raises concerns about potential provocations leading to conflicts, exemplified by recent altercations between Muslims and Jews. Despite the tensions, visitors of all faiths are generally welcome. However, religious Jews require an escort from Israeli police and an Islamic guard to ensure they refrain from praying or demonstrating religious activities. Worshippers like Max Frieden, a Russian immigrant, visits daily, hoping for increased access to this sacred site, though not necessarily for the construction of a new temple. His desire is simply to worship freely without impediments. In a city teeming with history and devotion, this site remains at the heart of a profound religious divide, where beliefs collide, and tensions persist.
Top image: Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem. Source: andyross / Adobe Stock.
By Robbie Mitchell