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Across the field from our residence in Jerusalem is Har Homa (Jabal Abu Ghneim in Arabic), the mountain that has caused so much conflict over the status of Jerusalem. On Easter morning 1997 we stood on the roof of our residence for a sunrise service. As the sun rose over the mountain, we celebrated the Resurrection with Scripture, song, and prayer.

Several days later we watched with pain as bulldozers cut a swath around the mountain, preparing the way for housing construction. Israelis insist this area is part of southeastern Jerusalem and that they have a right to expand there. Palestinians from the adjacent Christian towns of Bethlehem and Beit Sahour see this unilateral act as infringement on their right to expand their cities.

Jerusalem, the "City of Peace," is a source of conflict and disharmony. Israelis insist that Jerusalem should remain the unified and eternal capital of Israel under the absolute sovereignty of Israel. Palestinians, native to East Jerusalem, are critical of the Israeli claim to sovereignty; they want East Jerusalem to be the capital of a Palestinian state. Jerusalem elicits the best and the worst in people, and it is being marred by those who claim to love her.

Just as Jerusalem incites the passions of three great religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—it also inspires pilgrims. As we approach the year 2000, there is a lot of euphoria concerning Jerusalem. Some Christians are enamored with Jerusalem because they anticipate the restoration of Jerusalem when the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled. Hence, they uncritically defend Jewish control of Jerusalem because it fits their end-times theories. Christian pilgrims are flocking to see the sites where they anticipate these end-times events ...

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In the Magazine

October 5, 1998

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