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.
Burgess, J. Peter (2004) The Sacred Site in Civil Space: Meaning and Status of the Temple Mount/al-Haram al Sharif, Social Identities 10 (3): 311–323.