Yehuda Etzion, rebel, settler, archterrorist of the Jewish underground, thin like Jesus and hostage to the fever-dream of imminent redemption, parks his car by a rocky switchback on the western slope of the Mount of Olives. He leads me up the incline, to the chalk-colored ground where he comes to pray and to look to the west upon what one day, he believes, will be his. Just below is the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was betrayed and arrested. Just to the north is Mount Scopus, where the prophet Jeremiah watched the Babylonians burn Jerusalem. Immediately behind us is a house of modern prophecy, home to American evangelical Christians who have come on one-way tickets to the Promised Land. They are here to watch the Parousia, the Second Coming of Christ, and they are here to encourage the Jews to rebuild their Temple, the Throne of David on which the Christ will sit.
On the other side of the ridge, the eastern slope of the mountain drops off into the Judean desert, the caldron of prophecy and hallucination. Even here, on the western slope, the sun beats down on us like a spotlight. We look out before us, to the walled Old City and, at its heart, the 35-acre man-made platform--the Temple Mount to Jews; the Haram al-Sharif, or noble sanctuary, to Muslims--that is the single-most-explosive piece of real estate on the planet. And we look at the building that dominates the platform--the 1,300-year-old Dome of the Rock.
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