Thursday, March 18, 2010

What's the Difference?

Do you recognize the great standing Buddhas of the Bamiyan Valley in Afghanistan? They were a cause celebre when the Taliban, before 9-11, destroyed many or most of them with field artillery, in a savage act of world-defying iconoclasm breathtaking in its stupidity and malice.

Muslims, as indeed most educated peoples of the world, would regard the destruction of Al Aqsa, the mosque located on the southern wall of the Temple Mount, by arson, neglect, bulldozer, rezoning or nuclear holocaust just as blasphemous as the Taliban's treatment of the Buddhas of Bamiyan. The Israeli Ministry of Tourism refers to this location as "Solomon's Stables," although it scrupulously blames the Knights Templar for any off-handed allusions to the labors of Hercules. I don't know who is more offended by that bit of psychiatric warfare unless it's Solomon himself, but frankly, anyone who loves history, architecture and art, who values civility and civilization irrespective of religion, would place either Al Aqsa's or the Dome of the Rock's destruction in the same Dantean circle of barbaric culpability as the shelling of the Bamiyan buddhas.

The Dome of the Rock, photogenic, fabulous & fascinating to Christians, Muslims and Jews alike (it says in the brochure), is the other great mosque which, together with Al Aqsa, comprise the Noble Sanctuary. Curiously, the Israeli Ministry of Tourism calls this location "the mountain where Abraham tried to sacrifice Ishmael (not Isaac as Jews and Christians believe)". DNA analysis shows the children of Abraham as alike as pea #1 and pea #2 in the same pod, except of course that the children of Isaac have nuclear weapons and, with a few lunatic fringe Christians, a fatal attraction to Armageddon. Given my choice of progenitors, I'll take Odin. Nice twelve-day holiday. Lots of little colored lights. Good friends. Happy shopping tunes. Fruitcake. Air so cold, so cold it bites.



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