The contested city of Jerusalem : City of peace or city of conflict ?

    25-May-2021
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Daryal Rocko Anal
INTRODUCTION:
The holy city of Jerusalem has caught serious international attention once again in the midst of ongoing Covid Pandemic as violence and conflict erupted once again between Israel and Palestine as the month of Ramzan (Muslim holy fasting month) was ending. The conflict is decades old but the last serious conflict between Israel and Palestine was in 2015. The issue of Jerusalem constitute a core part of the larger Palestine-Israel/Arab-Israel issue. No city has played greater role in the history of religion than the city of Jerusalem. The city is said to have been destroyed twice, fought over 16 times, besieged 23 times, attacked on 52 occasions and traded hands on many more occasions.
The City is holy and sacred religious site to three major religions of the world namely Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Currently, the city is said to comprise Jews (64%), Muslims (34%), and Christians (2%). Known in Hebrew as Yerushalayim (Land of Peace) or sometime referred to as Zion and in Arabic as al-Quds (The Holy Sanctuary), it is one of the oldest cities in the world. It has been conquered, destroyed and rebuilt time and again, and every layer of its earth reveals a different piece of the past. While it has often been the focus of stories of division and conflict among people of different religions, they are united in their reverence for this holy city.
IMPORTANCE OF JERUSALEM:
Jerusalem is the holiest city for Judaism and Christianity and the third holiest city for Muslim after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
For Jews, Jerusalem besides being the City of David housed their holy site the Wailing Wall or the Western Wall where they are permitted to pray as they are restricted to enter the Temple Mount (the holiest) which housed their most sacred site called The Foundation Stone which is at present housed in The Dome of Rock currently under the Muslim control who considers it as their holy site too. The Wall is the only remains of the retaining wall surrounding the Temple Mount, the site of the First and Second Temples of Jerusalem that was constructed thousands of years ago. To Jews, the Foundation Stone is considered to be the site where Abraham attempted to sacrifice his son Isaac to God and also as the place where God‘s divine presence is manifested more than in any other place and also that Jerusalem is the direction towards which Jews turn during prayer as Muslim does towards the direction of the Kaaba at Mecca.
For Christians, Jerusalem is the place where Jesus Christ as a child was presented to the Temple, attended festivals, preached and healed, and most importantly where He was arrested, crucified, buried, resurrected and ascended to Heaven. Today, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is said to have been built over the location where Jesus was crucified and where His tomb was buried.
For Muslims, Jerusalem housed the sacred site the Dome of Rock or Noble Rock and within it the Foundation Stone as well as the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the farthest Mosque. The Dome of Rock is considered to have been constructed around 691-92 AD on the site of the Second Jewish Temple destroyed during the 70 AD Roman siege of Jerusalem. Muslim believed that it is from this site that Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. The city is significant in Prophet Muhammad‘s Night Journey too.
(To be contd)