At the center of this story is the Temple Mount, holy to both Judaism and Islam. Messianic fervor has driven Israeli settlers to oppose peace; Islamic apocalyptic visions cast Israel's actions in Jerusalem as diabolic plots.
Although Gorenberg, an Israeli journalist, does not specifically address the recent violence at Temple Mount/Al-Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem, anyone who seeks to understand the root of the fighting will find his thorough history of those 35 disputed acres to be indispensable. Gorenberg makes a stellar contribution to comprehending the troubled relationships among Arabs, Jews and Christians in Israel, meticulously analyzing the actions and beliefs of fundamentalist groups in all three religions. Jewish messianists and Christian millennialists insist that building the Third Temple on the site where both Solomon's and Herod's temples stood is essential for the advent of the Messiah, while Muslim apocalyptic believers fear that efforts to destroy Al-Aqsa mosque to make way for the Third Temple will prevent fulfillment of the prophecy about Islam's Meccan shrine migrating to Jerusalem at the end of time. Gorenberg writes objectively about advocates of each stance, slipping just once when he rejects the title of "martyr" for Baruch Goldstein (1994 killer of 29 Arabs in the Tomb of Patriarchs), calling that label "obscene." Gorenberg's prescience is manifest by his calling Temple Mount "a sacred blasting cap" and by stating that "any incident at the site can spin out of control." This valuable study greatly enhances readers grasp of the Middle East's religious and political complexities. (Dec.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.