The tension between the sacred and the civil unfolds on myriad levels in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
The purpose of this paper is threefold: (1) first, to sketch the evolution of the tension between the sacred and the civil in the modernization process of the Middle East and in the birth of Israel in particular; (2) to point out the limitations and ultimate failure of both governmental and peace-building approaches that ignore the paradoxical nature of this opposition; and (3) to attempt to find an alternative, phenomenological approach to religious space. The analysis is organised around four nested spheres: the Middle East in general, the Holy Land, Jerusalem and, finally, the Temple Mount/al Haram al-Sharif at the centre. Though the Temple Mount/al-Haram al Sharif is not a simple illustration among others, it constitutes the most powerful and comprehensive symbol of the forces at work in the constitution of religious space.
Download from Social Identities (with subscription)