Between a Rock and a Holy Site

Muslims have increased efforts to take control of Holy Land sties revered by Jews and Christians.
In any aggravated debate, "what is truth—indeed 'gospel' truth—for one party is more often than not viewed as blatant falsehood by the other." So writes Daniel Rossing, an orthodox Jewish educator and interfaith activist in Jerusalem who served for 14 years as the director of the Department for Christian Communities in the Israel Ministry for Religious Affairs. His insight certainly applies to tensions in the land that is holy to three faiths.

In order for Jews, Christians, and Muslims to reconcile, they would do well to listen to one another's stories. In the January issue of Christianity Today, a Palestinian Christian lawyer explained what he thought were the reasons for the breakdown of the peace process. In this issue, we hear from Clarence H. Wagner Jr., who heads Bridges for Peace, an evangelical Christian ministry that aims to build support for the people and land of Israel. The peace process as such is not his subject. Instead, he describes what he sees from his apartment window near Jerusalem, especially regarding recent Muslim encroachments on Jewish and Christian holy sites.

For the first time in 24 years of living in Jerusalem, I am worried. I can see clearly that the current conflict between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) is threatening all the good work that has been accomplished over the past decades to bring faith communities together.

There are many reasons why this current conflict has erupted, from political to economic. Nevertheless, Muslims are using this conflict to make strategic moves to put Israel on the public-relations defensive and to prevent free and full access to Jewish and Christian holy sites.

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