[ by Charles Cameron — Putin: the other fellow’s Ukraine is this fellow’s Temple Mount ]
It is hard to keep up with John Schindler [@20committee]: his writings flow fast and sure enough that I feel a bit like Alice, running fast to keep still, as I try to think through enough of what he writes to make meaningful comments. In this series of posts, I’ll try to come close to catching up.
First, as backdrop and just for the record, here are Vladimir Putin‘s comments on the spiritual relationship between Russia and the Ukraine, in which he compared the Ukraine to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, from a transcript of his December 2014 Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly:
Of course, we will talk about this year’s landmark events. You know that a referendum was held in Crimea in March, at which its residents clearly expressed their desire to join Russia. After that, the Crimean parliament – it should be stressed that it was a legitimate parliament that was elected back in 2010 – adopted a resolution on sovereignty. And then we saw the historical reunification of Crimea and Sevastopol with Russia.
It was an event of special significance for the country and the people, because Crimea is where our people live, and the peninsula is of strategic importance for Russia as the spiritual source of the development of a multifaceted but solid Russian nation and a centralised Russian state. It was in Crimea, in the ancient city of Chersonesus or Korsun, as ancient Russian chroniclers called it, that Grand Prince Vladimir was baptised before bringing Christianity to Rus.
In addition to ethnic similarity, a common language, common elements of their material culture, a common territory, even though its borders were not marked then, and a nascent common economy and government, Christianity was a powerful spiritual unifying force that helped involve various tribes and tribal unions of the vast Eastern Slavic world in the creation of a Russian nation and Russian state. It was thanks to this spiritual unity that our forefathers for the first time and forevermore saw themselves as a united nation. All of this allows us to say that Crimea, the ancient Korsun or Chersonesus, and Sevastopol have invaluable civilisational and even sacral importance for Russia, like the Temple Mount in Jerusalem for the followers of Islam and Judaism.
And this is how we will always consider it.
How serious is this?
End times, apocalypse-serious in three religions, driest kindling for a global wildfire in our drought-ridden world. All it would take is a single spark, and there are those who play with matches:
To me, that’s nightmare scenario number 1, number two having to do with Pakistani nukes..
Gershom Gorenberg, whose book The End of Days is still the best guide to the clashing of rival apocalypses on the Temple Mount aka the Noble Sanctuary — writes of that “thirty-five-acre not-quite-rectangular enclosure on the souther-east corner of the Old City of Jerusalem” that it is “the most contested piece of real estate on earth”.
Everyone, from the Lord on down, surely knows that the center of the earth is Jerusalem — even the maps tell us so:
As Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav says:
Wherever I go, I go to Jerusalem.
— and we can zoom further in:
As the navel is set in the centre of the human body,
so is the land of Israel the navel of the world…
situated in the centre of the world,
and Jerusalem in the centre of the land of Israel,
and the sanctuary in the centre of Jerusalem,
and the holy place in the centre of the sanctuary,
and the ark in the centre of the holy place,
and the foundation stone before the holy place,
because from it the world was founded…
Given the centrality of the Temple Mount, then, what are the prospects should someone, not unlike Adam Everett Livvix perhaps, motivated by desire to see the Temple rebuilt and Moshiach or Christ make his presence felt, attempt to destroy the mosques atop the Mount — as has already been attempted more than once?
Jeffrey Goldberg‘s interview with Gershon Salomon, leader of the Temple Mount Faithful movement, published in the New York Times just before the turn of the millennium, included this fascinating and to my mind alarming exchange:
I ask him how he would feel if someone blew up the Dome of the Rock.
“The question is, Why did they build their mosque on our holy mountain, anyway? Who gave them permission? God didn’t.”
Would you be saddened if the destruction of the Dome of the Rock led to war?
“I don’t think it will come to that. The Muslims know in their heart that this belongs to us.”
“But what if it did lead to war?”
Salomon smiled. “The Temple will be a reality. God has promised it.”
But what about war?
“O.K.,” he said impatiently, “so we’ll have a war.”
Quite how far into the parallelism between the Temple Mount and Ukraine Putin wants to go is an unknown — but my sense is that John Schindler would come closer to the answer than most.
This was the first of three posts.