I have walked the entire Via Dolorosa and explored every corner of the Old City of Jerusalem. I walked across and even under the Temple Mount, sitting on the very steps where Jesus once preached. I prayed alone inside the Tomb of Jesus at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. I collected water at the Jordan River at the closed site of John the Baptist. I drove alone through the occupied West Bank amidst wild camels and Uzi toting Israelis. I wandered alone through Palestinian cities and ate with them in local felafel cafes, being eyed suspiciously as I ate. I was entranced with the pungent open-air spice markets which haven't changed in 3,000 years. I visited the Essene ruins at Qumran, destroyed in 70 AD, to unlock its secrets about Jesus the Nazarene, the Essene Jew from Nazareth, or Nazareth Essene. I ate lunch with an Arab-Israeli-Christian business owner who was rejected by all factions and discussed Mideast issues. I walked along the shores of the Sea of Galilee where the apostles were recruited. I studied the ancient history of King Solomon's Temple and the original 12 Tribes of Israel. I prayed at the Wailing Wall, separated from the women, as silly Jewish tradition dictates (while not far away, heavily armed teenage women took a break from their duties with the IDF).
Americans are divided on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In general, Liberals support the Arabs, Republicans the Israeli government. Who you support is almost exclusively determined by how far back in history you choose to travel before stopping and declaring THAT moment as the time in history to return to in order to resolve all the historical problems we currently face. Israelis point out that they have been exiled by force for 2,000 years and this has always been their land since the great exile from Egypt some 10,000 years ago. The other side says they prefer the post-Ottoman Empire period after WW1 up to the creation of Israel by the United Nations mandate in 1947, or perhaps prior to the Arab-created Six-Day War in 1967 that led to the current Israeli "occupation of formerly Arab land" that was formerly all Jewish land. I admit, today the Israelis are brutal murderers just like USA forces in war time, BUT, neither the US nor the Israelis deliberately target innocent school children on public buses for mass murder like the Palestinians and other Muslim factions do on an annual basis.
What I concluded from my travel to Israel is certainly not "politically correct" I learned that the American political Left, including many of my friends, do not like Israel at all (or my strong views on Israel as a non-Jewish supporter), nor do they really know anything about the Temple Mount or its history. All they know is, those militaristic Israelis kill poor Palestinians: Public Radio tells us so and we are all upset about it. Express your inner anger at the bad Jews. We could talk about who starts all these wars (not Israel), but that is not my charge here. I agree, it is a complex mess with bad guys on both sides, and the Israelis are fiercely nationalistic and defensive (3,000-13,000 years of genocide would give any tribe or race a bit of a persecution complex), but, it all still comes down to one irresolvable issue:
Ownership and control of the 3,000-year-old Sacred Temple Mount in Old Jerusalem.
The Mideast region is rich in religious history, and complex in religious diversity, and yet, most of the holy religious sites in Old Jerusalem are not at all based upon historical facts, but old tradition, personal embellishment from the mother of Emperor Constantine, and various degrees of religious politics imposed by conquerors of all descriptions and ethnicities. In other words, other than the Temple Mount, ALL of the current religious sites in Jerusalem are bogus. From the Via Dolorosa to the Last Supper site to the Tomb of Jesus to Islam's Dome of the Rock, none are based on historical reality. They are all bogus manufactured religious sites with no basis in historical fact whatsoever. Even the existing Wailing Wall is not part of the original Temple Mount as is believed by most people, including some Jews. Muhammad never set foot in Palestine nor Jerusalem, and Jesus was buried in a fancy tomb in a garden setting far outside the Old City walls: the current tomb is totally bogus.
One fact everyone seems to be able agree upon: the center of the Temple Mount was built over the very spot that Abraham offered his son to God. All three major, fear-based religions claim this spot in their heritage: Islam, Judaism and Christianity. All have built temples upon this spot at some time in history. The Holy Temple once housed the actual Ark of the Covenant with the original Ten Commandments from Moses himself. Clearly, the original Jewish ownership of the Mount is insurmountable. King David legally purchased the land (after killing Goliath) some 3,000 years ago to build the Temple Mount, and his son Solomon built the First Holy Temple in 2,000 BC which was the center of Judea and the Jewish religion for about 500 years. The invading Babylonians destroyed the First Temple, which was soon rebuilt even larger and more grandiose than before and it stood through the time of Jesus. In 68 AD, the Romans destroyed every stone of the Second Holy Temple, but they left the Temple Mount intact, and it remains today as the holiest site in all of Judaism, literally connecting back to Moses and King David and the original 12 Tribes of Israel who rightfully owned this land for thousands of years. The invading Roman, Byzantine, Babylonian, Persian, Ottoman, Assyrian, Christian and Muslim armies all took the Temple Mount and its surrounding city by force from the Jews, or from each other. It rightfully belongs to the Jewish people, period. The whole thing: all of the Old City is stolen Jewish land. The Muslims don't belong there any more than the Romans did. Taking and holding the Jewish Temple by force has caused conflict for 2,000 years now, and caused the Jewish Uprising by the Zealots (one of the four Jewish sects under the Roman occupation of Judea, which also included the sect of the mystical Essenes to which Jesus belonged; three of the four Jewish sects were completely obliterated by the Roman genocide of the Jews and a single man preserved the traditions of the fourth). This is the heart of the on-going Mideast conflict: ownership of the Temple Mount and what sits upon it.
Pursuing peace cost one Israeli Prime Minister his life from a fellow Israeli turned political assassin. Not everyone wants peace. Fear is the emotion that dominates Israelis. Despair dominates the Palestinian emotions. Many have valid reasons to be angry, on both sides. But history clearly proves two things: the Jewish people built and rightfully own the Temple Mount and so have the right to build upon a temple upon it; and two, the Muslim claim that Muhammad ascended from that spot is as bogus as the Christian's claim that the Church of the Holy Sepulcher marks the real spot where Jesus was buried. No shred of truth in either case, and top religious scholars know this. Religious Myth should not rule logic and fact and current political thought. And here is where all sides will choke:
The Road to Peace is a Bumpy Piece:
Step One. First and foremost, all sides must agree that ALL sides have a fundamental right to exist in peace and to live upon a physical area that can be called Home or Country. This applies to both the Palestinians and the Israelis, to name a few. Genocide is not an option. Win-win is the only option. This agreement is the foundation to anything further, including basic peace talks. The right to exist is not negotiable nor exclusive. Iran and all Arab countries must agree to this right as well or face worldwide isolation as a clear blockade to peace. The Civil War in Syria will continue to be a wild card in the peace process, but all Arab countries must agree to let Israel exist in peace. That is Step One: the right to exist.
Step Two: A Palestinian vote that embraces co-existence in a two-country state. Once the threat of imminent harm is eliminated, Israel must stand down and stop its harsh and often violent treatment of the Palestinians and afford them due civil rights. A majority vote by the Palestinians will show the world that they agree Israel has a right to exist in peace. To create lasting peace, the Israelis must give up the Western attitude that "Might makes Right." All violence is terror, and both sides must stand down and stop the hate mongering. The Palestinians must acknowledge Israel is there to stay in their native Jewish homeland. The area was Judea long before the occupying Romans named it Palestine and engaged in genocide against the Jewish people.
Step Three: Create a Palestinian Nation in the occupied West Bank. The Jewish Settlements must ALL be removed or come under total Palestinian control and laws. Israeli settlers would be resettled back to Jerusalem. No whining. Jewish access to Masada and other important Jewish historical sites such as Qumran must be maintained to preserve the peace and honor the Jewish heritage. Israel will gain full control of the Old City and the Temple Mount and the Muslim Quarter would be resettled with Israeli citizens in trade for the West Bank settlements. Jerusalem should be returned to the Israelis and the Muslim Quarter dismantled. Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel, and not even a part of a new Palestinian state. The Jerusalem question has blocked all peace treaties for many decades.
Step Four: Give the Gaza Strip back to Egypt and return the area to its original configuration prior to the 1967 Six-Day War when it all changed. Egypt can figure out what to do with its fellow Muslims and how best to create peace there, but meanwhile Egyptian police are in control, not the terrorist Hamas. Forget imposing Western ideals upon Muslim nations. Let it be a Muslim solution within Egypt. Let Egypt administer Gaza as a transition to independence.
Step Five. Finally, return the Temple Mount and the entire Old City to the Jewish People and Israel. Even though the Israelis currently control Jerusalem, the Temple Mount is controlled by a local Muslim authority which bans Jews from visiting their own Mount! (All non-Muslims are banned. Being a non-Muslim, I was not allowed to enter the Dome of the Rock.) This is an incredible capitulation by the Israelis of their own history to appease the Muslims worldwide. Historical facts support that the Jews legally owned this structure and it was taken from them by force without compensation (Jerusalem has been sacked 27 times since Solomon built the first Holy Jewish Temple). They have a right under God and by international law to reclaim it and build the Holy Third Temple there, as soon as they want to. That would mean moving the iconic gold-covered Dome of the Rock and the Islamic El Aqsa Mosque to Mecca, where they rightfully belong: on true Islamic soil. The building of these structures following the Muslim Invasion of Northern Africa was tantamount to religious rape and should not be tolerated in a peace treaty. Control of the Mount is the ultimate key to the ENTIRE Mideast peace problem. President Carter at Camp David could not reach any agreement over the disposition of the Temple Mount. The Temple Mount is the ultimate roadblock to Mideast Peace. Dismantle the Muslim Quarter and return the entire Temple Mount to its rightful owners and the controversy over Jerusalem will eventually disappear. The Muslim community would likely never agree to dismantling their beloved Dome of the Rock, but it truly is a form of on-going religious rape and must be removed from the Mount forever. This is the hardest step, and will be resisted by the Muslim community worldwide. However, it must be done. It is the right course of action.
And, regarding the Mount and its contents, I have a personal prediction given to me by the Spirit World. I was firmly told that in my lifetime, likely before 2025, one of the structures currently on top of the Temple Mount will be destroyed! Whether from an act of God or an act of War, the time is near for the Holy Third Temple to be built. God will intervene to change the course of the Temple Mount. That is my prediction.
Now that should upset just about everybody...