Quick, what’s the second holiest site in Islam? The malls outside of Mecca, after that it’s Medina. What’s the third holiest site in Islam, if you thought the answer is Jerusalem, you’d be wrong. There are several reasons why, "And thereafter We said to the Children of Israel: ‘Dwell securely in the Promised Land.' And when the last warning will come to pass, We will gather you together in a mingled crowd." (Qur'an, Sura 17:104, "The Night Journey") This is significant, because Islam’s prophet not only said that Israel belongs to the Jews, he did so as part of his “Night Journey” where he dreamed his soul had come to Jerusalem. While Jerusalem should be and is a sight that Muslims find holy, it is not an Islamic holy place as the rise of Islam did not confer holiness on this sight but recognized what predated the Muslim religion and the holiness of the people who had built and lost two temples there. Such a statement may seem extreme and against Islam but considering the controversy at the holy site there is no equitable solution while ignoring inequity. To simply be kind to a narrative supported by people who defy the Qur'an makes no sense. Later, the Ottoman’s in a fit of war against the Crusaders built the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque complex in ironic defiance of the Qur'an. There’s no need to see the Ottomans as any better or worse than the European crusaders who would likely build a Church over the ruins of the Temple and whom the Ottoman’s were competing with, but to Jews they were ultimately a pair of nest stealers. So fast-forward several hundred years of Ottoman, British, and Jordanian occupation of Jerusalem and there’s quite a mess. For hundreds of years Muslims have prevented the free access of Jews to Jerusalem and Israel. Allowing the Waqf to administer the holy site has continued much of that failure. The Waqf could be replaced or reformed but Jews need to exercise their rights, right now.
For Muslims, there is nothing to fear from Jewish prayers, if there were any justice in the world, all the nations and religions of the world that bless themselves by Abraham would be allowed to pray there. Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Baha’i, Christians, Mormons and anyone else who has a hankering to commune with God in a historic setting. No one but Muslims are allowed in Mecca, this is a pure “we’re right” zone and there is something to be said for all the prayer and ritual that goes on and creates a sense of inter-Muslim brotherhood. I don’t think anyone else is quite so exclusive but I doubt there are too many Muslims and Jews in Vatican City or attending Church in Salt Lake City but Jerusalem should be an opportunity for Muslims and all Abrahamic faiths to find a similar brotherhood with each other. Wouldn’t that be great for everyone, including Muslims? Instead, Mahmoud Abbas, determined to show himself the least amongst God’s children and pharaonic in his certitude, said of Jews: “They have no right to desecrate [Al Aqsa & Church of the Holy Sepulchre] them with their filthy feet.” Meanwhile, Palestinians wait outside the complex with piles of rocks at the ready to prey on any Jews who might want to pray at their holy sight. Prime Minister Netanyahu is ready to answer violence with violence and with the Arab violence proving to be unrelenting, following the death of Alexander Levlovitz events could get grim. Since there has been nearly a year since the shooting of Yehuda Glick by religious terrorists, the Prime Minister has been too slow to act and now must act midway in a avalanche of violence. While there are a lot of competing territorial claims on Israel’s capital and holy sights, a long Muslim tradition at Israel’s holiest sight that must be taken into consideration, yet what right can Muslims possibly claim to any part of Jerusalem if they don’t believe God is for everybody? Palestinians cannot be instigators of religious violence and claim Jerusalem at the same time, they’ll have to choose or notice that they have already chosen. The Palestinians have been so inhospitable and violent, I doubt God wants to hang out there anymore but many people still do. Instead of having that traditional Middle Eastern contest of who can do the most damage, the Palestinians and Israelis should have that other traditional contest Middle Easterners are known for -- who can be most welcoming host. Racism, sectarianism, these are the isms that have come to define the Waqf’s administration of the Holy Sites. Time has come for people who want to just pray to take over for the “religious people.” There is no reason, except for mundane, petty, Earthly ones, why Muslims, Jews, Christians and anyone else who wants to join in can’t pray side-by-side anywhere in Jerusalem.