This British-born Israeli tour guide may have one of the hardest jobs on earth these days. On the guided tours he leads up to the Temple Mount several times a week, Emmanuel Kushner is under instructions to keep politics out of the conversation — and when it can’t be avoided, at least make sure that whatever he says is politically correct.Do Jews have the right to be equally upset when people call the area "Al Aqsa Mosque" or "Haram al Sharif"? Or are only Muslim sensibilities worthy of being protected?
With tensions over this Jewish and Muslim holy site boiling over in recent weeks, that can be a daunting task.
Kushner has developed some tricks for avoiding confrontation when entering the eye of the storm. “You guys all know Voldemort, the character from the Harry Potter books, as in ‘he-who-must-not-be-named,’” he begins his pep talk, as the group lines up outside the Temple Mount entrance gate designated for tourists. “Well, that’s gonna be our code. When we’re up there, and I say ‘Voldemort,’ I mean the Temple Mount. I just can’t use those words.”
Muslims refer to the site as the Noble Sanctuary, and language is critical in the current battle of conflicting narratives, all the more so when reference is made to its most salient symbols. These days, when many Palestinians have convinced themselves that Israel is determined to harm the historic mosques located on this site, the last thing a tour guide needs to do is rub in their faces the fact that this is also the site of the ancient Jewish temples.
And might that have to do with the fact that Muslims threaten violence if they become uncomfortable with facts, where even Jewish reporters consider the usage of the normative term for the holy site to be "rubbing it in their faces"?
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