In 2015, the Herbert C. Kelman Institute initiated a new project , “Developing a Complex Understanding of the Political Religious Conflicts over the Holy Land”.
The Holy Esplanade – Har HaBayit (The Temple Mount) to Jews and al-Haram al-Sharif (The Noble Sanctuary) to Muslims – has an outsized effect on the conflict. It is Judaism’s most important site and Islam’s third most important. According to some analysts the inability to agree over the future of the site – in particular Palestinian denial of the very historical existence of the Jewish Temple and Israeli demands to establish a synagogue on the esplanade – was the central reason for the collapse of the 2000 Camp David talks. The Esplanade is currently a site of increasing controversy, confrontation and violence, not least due to more frequent ascensions by religious Jews which are in turn a reaction to their sense of perceived threat to the esplanade’s future due to the Oslo process and to illicit transformation of subterranean spaces to mosques which harmed invaluable archaeologic artifacts.
The aim of the work is to create opportunities for a better understanding of the religious and political issues around the Holy Esplanade and the wider Holy Land.