They say to give blog posts titles that will catch peoples’ attention. This one might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I did have an idea the other day that I thought I would share. Maybe through the magic of memes and the collective unconscious it can perculate up to the parties directly involved.
One of the peace deal-scrapping issues has long been the status of Jerusalem. With Islamic and Jewish central holy sites in the same location, both groups would like to have Jerusalem as their capital. Several suggestions have been proposed and rejected to solve this problem, which folks versed in conflict resolution and nonviolence would term a distributive conflict.
The obvious solution is to share the city as a capital of both countries, which would be a creative challenge necessitating a strongly interactive, ongoing collaboration. My suggestion relates to the center of this conflict, the status of the holy sites themselves. I propose that a single structure be built on the shared site of the Second Temple and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. This structure would be a joint temple/mosque. Here are two possible configurations:
- A yin-yang shaped building, with yin (or yang) being the Temple and yang (or yin) being the mosque
- A giant peace sign. I like this idea best: the left and right upper chambers of the peace symbol would house the mosque and the temple. The lower two segments would serve as religious schools, administrative offices, etc. In this configuration, the wall separating the two schools would be removable, so that joint activities could take place.
For an outsider such as myself, the great Middle Eastern conflict is perplexing; everyone seems to know the eventual outcome for peace: two free and secure, coexisting states. But the parties get bogged down not only in details, but in ego – nobody wants to look like they are being taken advantage of, that they are weak. This comes from the fact that both groups have been the victims of powerful governments and have subsequently adopted tough, macho cultures. No one wants to be a victim twice. At some point, however, reality must trump psychology. Aggression, revenge, toughness, and defensiveness have not achieved the goals of either party. Until empathy is risked, nothing will be accomplished.
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