Omphalos

mosque of omar The_rock_of_the_Dome_of_the_Rock_CorrectedIs there really a fissure under the Dome of the Rock that leads to the navel of the universe? Tradition says so.  The hole in the southeast corner (the top of the photo is south) leads to a cave underneath called the Well of Souls.  Graham Hancock, in The Sign and the Seal, even speculated on the possibility it once concealed the Ark of the Covenant.

klein bottle1That would have been a physical hole. But what about a spiritual hole? Islamic architectural design in particular is meant to mask a building’s architectural edges in order to emphasize the unseen spiritual reality. Somewhere here in the courtyard outside the mosque of Omar, to the north and east, there is said to be a spiritual hole in the universe that leads directly to Allah. In this spot, a prayer is a thousand times more influential than anywhere else.

I am trying to picture this disturbance in the spiritual realm. Would it look something like a Klein bottle, with a hole in the middle leading to the whole universe? (link to photo credit)

Yes, I was told about this place, and was left there near that spot right at prayer time while my companion went to perform his prayers, after cautioning me not to speak English, as it was during the Intifada and only the Faithful were allowed inside the mosque enclosure.

So what would you do if you found yourself standing alone at the brink of the whole spiritual universe?  Would you try interact with it in some way?  Would you wish to put something in, take something out, or just take notice?

mosque of omar photo album500px

Fifteen minutes of fame for the Camel’s Nose, and a prayer on the Arab side of The Wall

I have finally gotten discovered by The Bigtime.

PRI’s The World has linked to me in their August 5, 2008 edition, having discovered me through no less than Reuters. The piece that caught their attention was Obama weasels on Palestine.

Sooner or later, bloggers discover other blogs creating links to them. A lot of the sites that link to me are bogus, only printing the first line of any piece I write, and sometimes even crediting the writing to someone else. They put up a few ads and use my content to make money. These websites don’t last very long.

Other sites that link to me are real people, not electronically generated content. They’re interested in what I say. That’s not always as nice as it sounds. A while back, before all the media fuss about Barack Obama’s church, I visited the church and wrote some opinions about whether it was racist. I say it is. Unfortunately some of the bloggers who link to that piece are looking for something to bolster their adherence to some ideology or another, rather than engage in systematic thinking. Others are looking for someone to link to them in exchange for a link, in order to symbiotically increase the google mojo of both our sites. That’s fine with me. Still other bloggers that link to me are just ordinary people like myself, some international.

The ordinary people thrill me, yes, that’s what life is made of and I love to taste it. But the mainstream media attention is very heady. Getting the attention of MSM means my ideas get wider currency.

The premise of my blog is that one person CAN make difference, just by reaching out, by being tolerant, and enjoying other people for their differences. That’s why my mission statement says “let’s just eat.” In the Arab culture, when you eat with someone, you accept them and shelter them unconditionally, for three days and one third, according to custom. I want that type of acceptance to become contagious.

In particular, every so often I write something about Palestinian independence. King Abdullah has been taking about it all year and says that yes, it can happen this year. I believe him. When I visited the mosque of Omar in Jerusalem, a spot that many cultures have considered to be the navel of the universe, my guide told me there was one spot in the surrounding courtyard where a prayer has a thousand times more influence than in any other geographical location. It’s on the Arab side of the same wall where Obama put his prayer on a piece of paper. I sent up a prayer there for peace and tried to visualize all my Palestinian friends going about their lives without the specter of war.

Of course, prayer by itself isn’t enough. You have to do something to manifest the vision as well, so I told my guide about it. And now I’m blogging about it. I’m trying to blog about it in a very concrete way, in the American way of writing paragraphs with topic sentences and reasons and examples, so other people can start to visualize it as well. And if my sense of history is faulty, they can fill in their own blanks and start to create their own vision.

Palestine the nation. Now.

It’s ours if we want it.

Posted in Jerusalem, Middle East, Obama, Palestine. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Fifteen minutes of fame for the Camel’s Nose, and a prayer on the Arab side of The Wall

Where is the al Aqsa Web Cam?

Last Friday, after a disturbance at the site of a sidewalk repair at the Moor’s Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, a webcam was placed outside the construction site to reassure Arab critics. But where is the webcam? Reports place a temporary wooden sidewalk next to and impinging on the women’s section of the Western Wall, the place most Jews prefer to pray at until the coming of their long-awaited Messiah.

Here is the BBC News diagram:
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Here are a few photos of the Western Wall in Jerusalem taken at the millineum.

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The first photo is the men’s section of the western wall with a few men praying. In the background is the smaller and more crowded women’s section.

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A little bit longer shot of the previous photo. Visible at the top of the wall are the two mosque domes, al-Aqsa on the right and the Mosque of Omar on the left. A half hour after I took this photo, there was a sound of loud chanting from the direction of the mosque entrance on the far right. Then there was a scuffle and several youths broke through from the direction of the mosque and were quickly taken into custody. Late I climbed the hill in the Jewish Quarter of the Old Town and looked back down on the plaza. On the right I could see the silhouettes of a line of soldiers with machine guns. It would make a great photo, I thought, then looking at the empty windows overlooking my position, and wondering if there was an official policy about what can be photographed, I decided it was one of those pictures I was not going to take.

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Above the Western Wall is the Haram al-sharif temple complex. The building  straight ahead in the photo is the al-Aqsa Mosque, built by the Knights Templar. Underneath is said to be the stables of Soloman. Panning the camera ninety degrees to the left would show the gold-domed Mosque of Omar. Ninety degrees to the right would show the top of the Western Wall, above where the Jews are praying, several uniform-clad Israeli soldiers sitting on a bench above the wall, looking bored with their machine guns held relaxed.

Aqsa Webcam on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount

A sidewalk gets damaged by snow. You repair it, right? Not if it’s in the Middle East.

In 2004, a sidewalk was damaged by snow and a minor earthquake. Unfortunately for this particular sidewalk, it happened to be in Jerusalem, at one of the gates to the Temple Mount

Sunday’s online issue of The Jordan Times takes up the story:

The Israeli government’s reasons for the new project seemed simple: The existing walkway partially collapsed in a 2004 snowstorm, it was unsafe and it had to be replaced.

Early this month, when archaeologists began a salvage dig outside the compound’s Magharebah Gate ahead of the walkway’s construction, the waqf said it had sovereignty over the ramp because it touched the compound and charged that Israel was harming an integral part of the holy site.

That was quickly followed by a more inflammatory charge: The dig was cover for another attempt to tunnel under the Islamic holy places and cause their collapse.

Israel claims that notified all relevant parties, including the waqf, before beginning construction. Muslim officials, however, said they were never consulted.

Adnan Husseini, the waqf’s director, told the Associated Press that there are “ongoing” Israeli attempts to undermine the mosques from below, and that he suspected Israeli archaeologists were currently tunnelling underneath the compound.

“We are against all of these excavations, because they threaten the future of the mosque,” Husseini said.

Husseini denies that Israel has any rightful claim on the compound, and has questioned the existence of any Jewish history there. A waqf booklet for tourists says the existence of the temples is supported by “no documented historical or archaeological evidence”.

Since the Magharebah Gate project started, there have been only limited clashes, including a scuffle between police and protesters Friday, and nobody has been seriously hurt.

But Israel has been condemned, reprimanded or warned by nearly every Muslim country. During a trip to Turkey this week, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed to a demand that a Turkish team be allowed to observe the construction work to help calm Muslim fears. Turkey is Israel’s closest Muslim ally.

Israel also began broadcasting live images of the work site on the Internet Thursday.

A live webcam is now playing real time images from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. It is viewable with Internet Explorer.

A Friday article in The Jordan Times gave more details about Arab reaction.Sunday’s Jordan Times details the level of interest within Jordan (link to saved articles): meetings with high level officials, demonstrations in Zarqa (the hometown of the deceased terrorist al-Zarkawi), and concerned statements from the “professional organizations”, which are considered to be Jordan’s religious extremists and the only opposistion to the government.

Here is a link to a BBC News artitcle giving a brief history of the Temple mount, its significance to the major religions, and a map of the area under repair.

An article in Haaretz details the internal politics surrounding the project.

Just to make things more interesting, a Byzantine mosaic has now been discovered at the site.