Realizing The Ideal Israel
By Dr. Yitzhak Hayut-Man
Israelis and Palestinians are in a crisis. Yet, a deep crisis is also an opportunity for reconstruction. Fundamental issues that people attempted to suppress, such as "the Right of Return", sovereignty over Jerusalem and the destiny of the Temple Mount, have proven to shape our identities. What we need today is a Vision that will show how to overcome the fundamental issues. For this purposed, the Academy of Jerusalem was established, as an interdisciplinary workshop for research and development of a Vision. Through our studies, we have found such a vision as immanent in the Torah (and also in the New Testament and the Quran) - if we read it with a fresh approach - not just a Jewish (or Christian or Moslem) reading, but a new "Israeli" reading.
A New Israeli Identity
We are seeking a new Israeli identity by which both Jews and Arabs shall be able to feel as "Us". Not just as "unfortunately, we have to live together", but "Luckily, Providence has put us together". The Torah offers an ideal model for Israel - the pattern of the Twelve Tribes - with a joint Temple-City in their midst. In fact, the Torah does not at all recommend "the establishment of a Jewish State in the Land of Israel". The Torah ideal expressed through the "Twelve" is that of a confederation. Why twelve? Because this plurality allows the settlement of conflicts that would only polarize and amplify in a two-sided arrangement - such as of "two states for two peoples" in the same land.
The Biblical story supplies meaningful clues concerning the twelve components of a future Israel. The "Israel" of the scriptures consists of more elements than "Yehuda" (Judah) - just as today's Israel is not exclusively made of Rabbinical-Jews. Even those who are considered Jewish have adopted several different identities. The Biblical story stresses that the children of Jacob's "maids" (Bilhah and Zilpah) have become tribes of Israel with equal status to the tribes that emerged from his "mistresses" (Rachel and Leah). The twelve tribes represent a solution to the problem of the two-way polarity that is expressed in the Torah in the story of Yitzhaq (Isaac) and the expulsion of Ishmael (a story that parallels the situation of the expulsion of the Arabs at the establishment of the State of Israel).
As unique feature of the story of the children of Israel is the addition of "The House of Joseph" (Beit Yoseph - meaning "future addition"). Joseph returns and joins his brothers out of choice, even though he could have lived in peace abroad. The addition of our times can and should come from the many millions around the world, who feel a bond to Israel, to Jerusalem and to Zion. This is a critical factor in transforming the two-sided conflict into pluralistic integration. Otherwise, Jews and Arabs would continue their stubborn demographic struggle, aiming to achieve majority. The key for such a development is in the affinity to the Bible and subsequent scriptures, forming a kind of Christian Zionism or Universal Zionism that focuses on Jerusalem.
The new vision for Israel proposes Jerusalem as the birthplace of the new Universal Israel.
The Whole Old City As The New Temple Of Jerusalem.
The Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount remain the main obstacle to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Neither side can concede them to the other. Many have already noted that compromise in Jerusalem can only be achieved through dedicating the city to God. Israelis and Palestinians would be wise to agree on handing over the management of the Old City, for a certain period, to a new interfaith organization of lovers of Jerusalem from all over the world. This would allow both sides to collaborate in seeking solutions for their vital problems.
This idea seems too abstract at this time. Yet, studies conducted at the Academy of Jerusalem show the possibility of regarding the entire Old City of Jerusalem as the Holy Temple envisioned by the prophets. It may be seen as the "House of Prayer for all the Nations" (Isaiah 56:7), also referred to as "the Third Temple" by Ezekiel, John and the Dead Sea sect, and mentioned under various names in Islam, Buddhism and more). It would be proper, therefore, to declare the whole Old City as "The City of God" and a world cultural site, dedicated to making peace in our land and beyond. This concept may allow for establishing the Temple without harming the existing sacred sites.
Even if this plan cannot be implemented at this time, a recognition of the spiritual-cultural role of Jerusalem as a temple would help in establishing a virtual temple. Such a project would serve spiritual functions in itself, lead the way to peace in Jerusalem, and become a center for training more peace-makers.
The Dome Of The Rock Model As A Temple Of Reconciliation.
There is probably no other building in the world that is so prominent and visible and yet, so mysterious and hidden, as the Dome of the Rock. Superficially, it may be described as the most dangerous site for world peace (the last Intifada was triggered by false alarms for saving the Dome of the Rock, yet a true alarm is also likely). But the monument's inner qualities may reveal the chances for reconciliation.
Our studies have discovered the hidden, universal ideals of the shrine's builders. They were "Sufi Freemasons", Christians and Jews who worked in harmony, conscious of their bond to the "Temple of Solomon". We can clearly show how these intentions were embedded into the pattern of the shrine and the geometry of its decorations. These match the special features of the temple envisioned by Ezekiel, and can function as the key to dedicating the entire Old City as a Holy Temple. These sacred designs are perfectly suitable to the ritual and spiritual role of this shrine, as well as to its function as a center of uplifting humankind. It seems that no better model could be found for this goal.
Even if today it would be politically impossible to reach an agreement on such a role for the Dome of the Rock, we can still build models of the shrine with relative ease. We can also construct and operate a virtual temple in the global cyberspace. Promoting the Dome of the Rock as one of the world's most sacred assets may contribute to remove the Moslem fear of some Jews and Christians who intend to replace the Dome of the Rock with the third Temple.
It is therefore proposed to build a virtual model of the Dome of the Rock that will function as a center of reconciliation between people in whatever context (this would also allow for operating the project as a business enterprise). The main goal, however, would remain to promote the process of forming the twelve tribes of the Universal Israel from among all lovers of Jerusalem. They would gather in that chosen site for exercising the "Yoru-Shalem" - the vision of the Holy-Whole. They would come to the virtual site to exercise acceptance of self and other and perfect their capacity for reconciliation. These spiritual steps would lead to new agreements, understandings and insights, which may foster mutual reconciliation and fulfill our hope for the ideal, Holy Israel.
Renew the Old, Sanctify the New - a book by Dr. Yitzhak Hayut-man & Israel Ohad Ezrahi
© HopeWays, 2003-5. All Rights Reserved
HopeWays reserves the right to publish materials at the editors' discretion. However, all materials in this website are published at the sole responsibility of their authors. The owners and editors of this website accept no responsibility for any materials unless they are explicitly mentioned as authors of a specific segment.