The Religions – Key to Peace in the Holy Land

GOTTFRIED HUTTER, theologian, psychotherapist, founder and chairman of “The Temple Project Association”


Given solely political means, there can be no hope of resolving the conflict between Israel and its Muslim neighbors. Yet the religions can summon the empathy required to achieve the political impossible.

The pact could then be sealed by the powerful of both worlds – as an essential step towards worldwide unity in diversity.

I speak now of the moment when peace between Israelis and Palestinians will have become a reality – because Jews and Muslims are reconciled.

The sacred place at the heart of Jerusalem, al Haram ash Sharif, the Temple Mount, holy to both Muslims and Jews, will then have become a symbol of peace.

How can this be attained?

Surprisingly, the key to tomorrow’s peace is encrypted in the origin of the name “Israel”.

Jacob, the biblical “Israel”, was able to attain reconciliation with his brother Esau by showing utter respect for his feelings (Gen 32f.).

Following this example, today’s Israel, too, could empathize totally with its counterpart, the Muslim Umma, and apologize formally, as Jacob apologized formally; because the founding of a non-Muslim enclave within the sacred space of the Muslim Umma had violated the values and innermost feelings of their Muslim brothers and sisters.

By apologizing, Israel would be expressing genuine empathy. While such a movement would have been unthinkable at the time when the State of Israel was founded, the Jewish people then being so deeply traumatized, today such an apology is possible.

And just as Jacob also offered a rich present to his brother, present-day Israel, too, could offer a rich present to the Palestinians – for example water.

Under such conditions the Muslim Umma can welcome their Jewish brothers and sisters in their midst – and apply the rule prescribed in the Qur’an (in Sura 5,48) of a competition in virtue.

As a preliminary step it would be helpful if the open letter “A Common Word”, which was sent by renowned Muslim scholars to the heads of Christian churches with a view to enhancing inter-religious dialogue, could also be addressed to leading Rabbis. This would be a movement of love, of genuine empathy.

Through love, through empathy, and only thus will true peace be attained. Through love and empathy al Haram ash Sharif, the Temple Mount will become a symbol of peace. Through love and empathy, it will do justice to both Muslims and Jews, and then the whole of Jerusalem will become what its name denotes: the city of peace.

(Update: 2014_01_21)



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