The Temple Mount is Mine
2 x 52 minutes, 2003
Produced and Directed by Willy Lindwer
Associate Producer Israel
: Carl Perkall
Terra Film Productions (Israel) and AVA Productions (Netherlands)
A co-production with
Noga Communications (Israel), Channel 8 (Israel), NCRV TV (Netherlands), VRT (Belgium)
CoBo Fund (Netherlands)
- In search of the Holiest spot on Earth
- The Battlefield of Faith
The Temple Mount is Mine is the dramatic story of rulers, religions and conflict: past, present and future. Holy to the Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is also the world's bloodiest and most fought-over site. While the Jebusites, Israelites, Babylonians, Romans, Byzantines, Persians, Muslims, Crusaders, Mamelukes, Ottomans, British, Israelis and Palestinians all clashed here in the past, it is still being contested to this very day. This documentary contains the first film material shot on and beneath the Temple Mount since the beginning of the Intifada in 2000.
TIME Magazine once called the Temple Mount "potentially the most volatile 35 acres on earth". This spot is one of the most sacred, but also the bloodiest and most controversial places in history. It is a Holy Site for the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Mount Moriah is also known as the Temple Mount, or in the Islamic tradition: Haram es-Sharif. It is the place where patriarch Abraham was forced to sacrifice his son Isaac to God, the site which King David chose to be capital of the Jewish people and where his son, King Salomon, built the Temple, where King Herod the Great built the majestic Second Temple, the place where Jesus Christ did his Bar-Mitzvah and spoke to his disciples and where Mohammed rose to heaven on his white horse.
The two-part documentary not only answers the question as to why Temple Mount is a source of conflict, but particularly which mystical spell this special place has cast in the past and present, and will continue to cast the future.
Some Jews and Christians want to rebuild the temple. The plans for the Third Temple are ready on the drawing board. Staff at the Temple Institute in Jerusalem are already busy making vats for the temple rituals and clothes for the priests. Talmud students in the Jewish schools in the Old City study the temple rituals so that later, when the temple is actually rebuilt, they will know all the laws.
Some zealots see no reason to wait any longer. Gershom Salomon attempts to climb the Temple Mount every few months, but the police always stop him out of fear that his action might provoke violence. Another activist, Yehuda Etzion, went to prison for wanting to blow up the Dome of the Rock. Some evangelic Christians are only too willing to help the Jews with their building plans. They believe that the Third Temple is a condition for the return of the Messiah. Dutch preacher Jan Willem van der Hoeven is keen to erect a model of the Third Temple in Jerusalem. He is a fierce proponent of Jewish rights to the Temple Mount.
The Muslims are fully aware of the interest the Jews and Christians share in the mountain. And it worries them a great deal. They will give their lives to protect what they call Haram es-Shariff, the 'noble enclosure'. Israeli journalist Gershom Gorenberg, author of the book The end of days, warns that some groups are looking to unleash the Apocalypse – the last, great battle. He says that the authorities must be aware of extremist groups, as they could involve Israel in a war it doesn't want.
Palestinians frequently deny the Jewish connection with the mountain. This applies, for example, to the mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Ikrima Sabri. A group of Israelis, including lawyer Shmuel Berkowitz, wants the police to end the illegal renovation works. They claim that the Muslims are trying to wipe out any remaining Jewish trace from the area.
The documentary films comprises several layers. The first layer introduces spiritual leaders, historians, archaeologist, philosophers and writers of the three different religions and their opinions, which are often diametrically opposed. Scientific research following the six-day war in 1967 has added significantly to the knowledge about the area surrounding the Temple Mount and the temple itself. The documentary focuses on both moderate and extremist opinions. Extremist feelings experienced in the area are also discussed.
The explosive character of the situation surrounding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is given depth dramatically. After all, this is not simply about a situation which has existed for thousands of years, but about a situation which will continue to control the future.
The second layer is about 'ordinary people'. These are the families who are literally living beneath the smoke of the bombs and the violence, at the heart of the daily tension of Jerusalem's Old City. This includes, for example a family in the Muslim district with many children. The mother is a fanatical woman prepared to give everything to keep Temple Mount in the hands of the Muslims, including even the sacrifice of her children.
And there's the ultra orthodox Jewish woman and her family, who insists on living within the old walls of David's Jewish capital as the embodiment of her religious feelings and Jewish identity. The documentary also shows a Christian family in the Old City, who, incidentally, is more interested in Christianity's holiest site, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, situated close to the Temple Mount.
Besides these more extreme opinions and feelings, the film also features the families of Ali Qleibo (Muslim) and Abraham Havilio (Jewish). Their ancestors have lived together peacefully in the old city for many centuries. Ali and Abraham still keep in close contact. A hopeful sign.
A key element in the two documentaries is the conflict and the claim which various religions and national groups are making on the mountain. The most recent developments surrounding this immense and complex problem show how explosive the current situation is. The focus of the world is on that tiny site with its tremendous impact. Both the historic claim and the emotions run deep. The films show how the visit by Ariel Sharon, added considerably to today’s serious situation, the Al Aqsa Intifada. No wonder; Muslims fear that the Jews are looking to take over the mountain. But for the Jews the mountain represents the world's most holy place.
It has shown once again how explosive the situation in Jerusalem really is. And that will remain in the future. Future negotiations regarding the peace process will concentrate on the status of Jerusalem: The Temple Mount. The documentaries breathe the atmosphere of the present conflict. Although the film features the problems currently surrounding the Temple Mount and the present complex and dangerous situation, the roots of the conflict will of course also play a role. The documentaries discuss the historic and religious backgrounds mirrored on the present.