Jacob Wirtschafter

Jacob Wirtschafter writes for RNS.

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In Historic Mosul, Rebuilding After ISIS Poses Archaeological Challenge

Image via RNS/AP.

“What happened was a tragedy, yet it’s also a chance to discover the last virgin monuments from historical Nineveh,” said Zaid Issam, an Iraqi architect. “We can’t turn a blind eye to the fact that it was originally built on a great archaeological mound.

Unrelenting Killing of Coptic Christians Intensifies Debate Over Martyrdom

Image via RNS/Creative Commons/Ashashyou

The 2,000-year-old Coptic Church of Egypt has a long tradition of hallowing those who died affirming their faith in the face of violence.

But the group that calls itself the Islamic State has launched waves of attacks on the Coptic community in recent years – claiming at least 70 lives and wounding scores of others – an unrelenting assault that has opened a debate in the community about martyrdom.

Activists Intent on Building Third Jewish Temple Spark Tensions at Holy Site

by Jacob Wirtschafter, by Ori Weisberg 11-12-2014

The Temple Mount – Haram al-Sharif to Muslims – in Jerusalem is at the center of an intense debate over messianic religious Zionism in Israeli politics and society, and what it means for the future of the peace process. Religion News Service photo by Jabeen Bhatti

It’s a site holy to both Jews and Muslims — considered the most religiously sensitive square kilometer on earth.

These days, the Temple Mount — known as the Haram al-Sharif to Muslims — is at the center of an intense debate over messianic religious Zionism. How Israeli society deals with it may hold the key to the peace process.

Temple Mount tensions were sparked by last month’s attempted assassination of U.S.-born Rabbi Yehuda Glick, who was seriously wounded.

Glick is a fierce advocate for building a third Jewish temple on the site of the Temple Mount, where two Jewish temples stood thousands of years ago. He is also at the forefront of a campaign to allow Jewish prayers at the site. Israel currently bans Jews from praying on the plateau to prevent clashes with Muslims worshipping at the nearby Noble Sanctuary, a mosque considered to be Islam’s third-holiest site, and Jerusalem’s most iconic gold-domed landmark.

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