by Rizqi J. Rachmat
I sat at the Mount of Olives overlooking the Old City where the Dome of the Rock, Temple Mount and the Western Wall reign supreme. The geography and the divisions of neighborhoods, cities and villages make it clear as to why walls are so easily put up, but are they justifiable, or based on reasonable or legal claims? These are questions about which I hope to find more clarity if my experience in the Holy Land permits. The fact that the world’s three monotheistic religions all claim religious and historical significance to this area is frightening.
Inside the Dome of the Rock, where only Muslims are allowed entrance, I had an enlightening and humbling experience. The man at the doorway made me prove my faith to him by reciting a prayer. Inside there is a large rock that is said to have been one of the last places upon which the Prophet Mohammed stepped foot. Visitors can go underneath it, into a cave –where people conduct prayers and blessings. This is where I too prayed and offered donations on behalf of my family. Adjacent to this area is the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, not far from which are the Old City’s Muslim and Jewish quarters, segregated and divided by armed, Israel Defense Forces guards - a reflection of the way the country is organized and divided.
The experience was surreal. Many thoughts are swimming in my head as I begin to decipher the intricacies of Israeli-Palestinian society. It is difficult to grasp: How do these people live in such a divided and segregated place?