Sunday, January 13, 2008

Temple Mount

We didn't expect so many people in Jerusalem to speak Arabic. 9 of 10 Taxi drivers were Palestinian, 1 was Israeli. It depends where you catch the Taxi. The Arabic taxi drivers said that a lot of Hebrew words sounded like Arabic. That the languages came from the same root. Proto-semitic, I think is the root language.

The rock is under the golden dome behind us:


Jerusalem is a city with a walled city inside that has inside of it the core of three world religions.


And that part is very quiet and hard to get to if you look a certain way or can't answer questions a certain way or betray a certain bent. But still its way too easy to get there. Ariel Sharon got there and 3000 people died.

Inside the Mosque that was built on top of the ruins of the second temple (destroyed 70 AD by the ROmans) that was built on the ruins of the temple of Solomon (destroyed ~500bc by the Babylonians, when the Jews were first exiled from Israel), there lies a rock.

This rock is where Mohammed ascended to heaven for a day and got the stories from the Angels that we call the Q'uran.

This rock is where Abraham checked the mortal descent toward the throat of
his son of a sacred knife. When the Ram appeared. Jews say that son was Isaac, Muslims say it was Ishmael.

This is the Rock where Jacob dreamt of a ladder where angels went up and down from here to heaven.

Some say this is the rock where creation began.

I always thought that the second temple was utterly destroyed except for the western wail (wailing wall), but I read somewhere that all four walls remain and a number of pillars. They call it the wailing wall, maybe, because the Jews mourn the destruction of the Temple.

Here's us squatting near the east wall:


So we were standing at the entrance to the dome and a guy was sitting on a plastic deck chair there, so we figured he was some kind of guard. There are doors on each side of the dome but we didn't try them because nobody else was, until we got to the western side where we saw people going in, but they were obviously Muslim. I thought the guy was a guard, but it became pretty apparent that that wasn't the case when he went to have a smoke and left his 6 year old son at the door while he meandered over and chatted with the guy sweeping cigarette butts up off the holiest site in the world. We went to talk to him anyway to see if it was OK to go in, about the same time a guy with a Yankees baseball cap was talking to him. He had some English, but I picked up "Blame king Hussein" and "Forbidden" and "welcome". So we decided not to go in, not to risk offending anyone. But we talked to the guy in the Yankee's cap and he kind of moved his toe around in a circle on the ground and pointed, and then indicated the whole whole area saying "You could pose as a muslim and go in, but not a good idea, really. This piece of real estate is the most contested land in the world right now. Right here. War and destruction over the rock of creation. I don't know why that guard was saying 'blame king Hussein'". I tried to interject here that Hussein of Jordan made the Mosque off limits to no Muslims but Yankee hat was on a roll.

So the current King of Jordan, Abdullah is the son of Hussein who is the grandson of King Abdullah, who was assassinated pretty close to where we were standing on the Temple Mount because, they think, some Palestinians thought Abdullah was trying to negotiate peace with Israel. Always dangerous work. Work his grandson eventually completed.

So we left the Temple Mount and made our way to some bakery in the Christian quarter. We'd been hanging out with a couple from Florence who were working in Jordan since 6:30 am, and I knew that none of us had eaten yet, so I figured this would be breakfast. Coffee and pastry for everyone else, but by God breakfast for me. Or brunch, for it was well nigh on noon. Hummous and pita.

So we went back to the Hotel, it was 12/23. On Christmas eve we planned on going to Bethlehem.