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Summary of Panel Discussion in Memory of Prof. Yaacov Bar-Siman-Tov on the topic of Temple Mount
Prof. Yaacov Bar-Siman-Tov (Barsi) was a professor of international relations and served as head of the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies for ten years, until he passed away in 2013. Barsi wrote prolifically about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and dedicated his life to this issue and to conflict management. On March 26, 2015, the second annual panel discussion in his memory took place at the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies.

Agenda:

Opening Remarks: Dr. Ittai Bar-Siman Tov; Dr. Kobi Michael

Panel One: The Temple Mount Conflict – Escalation Processes


Jewish Visitation and Prayer on the Temple Mount and Repercussions Thereof: Dr. Amnon Ramon 


Ramon spoke about the steadily expanding activities of Temple Mount groups, the erosion of the prohibition under Halacha (Jewish law) against visiting the Mount, and the growing number of visitors from the national-religious community. For further reading.


Presentation: Temple – Dream versus Reality: Gali Tibbon, Photojournalist


Gali Tibbon is a photographer of religious, primarily Christian, groups. As part of her work she observes and photographs those who are calling for construction of the Third Temple, especially members of Machon HaMikdash (the Temple Institute). Machon HaMikdash focuses on reviving activities at the Temple by creating the ritual items used at the Temple Mount and training the high priests who will serve at the Temple. During the time she has observed these activities, she has seen the activists who support a Third Temple grow stronger, from a small group to an expansive one that includes a variety of members of Israeli society.


The Myth of Status Quo on the Temple Mount: Nadav Shragai

Nadav Shragai, a journalist with Israel Hayom and researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs as well as author of the book Har Hameriva (The Mount of Contention), argues that most elements of the status quo as determined by Moshe Dayan on the Temple Mount in 1967 no longer exist today, and therefore the status quo is to a large extent null and void. For further reading.

Panel Two: The Role of Religion and Holiness in the Conflict over the Temple Mount

Chair: Dr. Kobi Michael

The Different Approaches to Outsiders among Temple Movements: Dr. Hillel Cohen


Dr. Hillel Cohen discussed the attitude of Jews and Muslims to “foreigners” in holy places and at the Temple Mount / Al-Haram Al-Sharif. Under Muslim rule Jews had been allowed to visit the Mount (and perhaps to pray at times) up until the Mameluke period. Evidently Jews also worked in maintenance and as cleaners on the Mount during certain periods under Muslim rule. In the late nineteenth century there was opposition to Christian and Jewish visitation at the Mount, and during the Mandate era the Mount was officially opened to all religions. During the 1920s there was also Muslim recognition that the place was the site of the Jewish Temple. Yet as the conflict between the two peoples and religions escalated, the Jewish connection to the place was denied. Approaches to Muslim presence and prayer at the Mount also differ among various Jewish groups engaged in matters relating to the Mount, from acceptance of Muslim prayer on the Mount to perspectives that hold “And the stranger who approaches will be killed.” 


The Struggle over the Temple Mount / Al-Haram Al-Sharif: A Comparative Approach through Conflict Management and Resolution: Prof. Yitzhak Reiter


Prof. Reiter spoke about the Temple Mount as a symbol of the conflict: on both sides there are extremist groups that aspire to change the status quo. Any change to one of the elements of the status quo violates it. Prof. Reiter expanded on the issue of various approaches to conflict resolution: spatial division, temporal division, an attempt to expand the holy space and then divide it as well as possibly apply it to the Temple Mount / Al-Haram Al-Sharif. 

Shared Holiness and Interreligious Dialogue: Rabbi Dr.  David Rosen


Rabbi David Rosen spoke about the need to have the political negotiations include religious aspects of the relations and conflicts between the religions. He presented a historical survey of efforts to include clergymen and the issue of interreligious dialogue in negotiations. A milestone in this context was the Alexandria Summit, where leaders of the three religions of the region participated, with the sponsorship of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Sayyid Tantawi. They signed a declaration supporting interreligious peace and opposing violence and bloodshed. The Alexandria Declaration was recognized by the pope, the UN secretary general, prominent Muslim leaders, and the Quartet.


Concluding Remarks: Meir Kraus

JIIS Director General Meir Kraus provided concluding remarks and expressed his hope that the Temple Mount / Al-Haram Al-Sharif would be not only a source of conflict but also part of the solution – a house of prayer for all peoples in accordance with the vision of Isaiah and the Prophet Micah. 

For the full agenda, click here.

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