The architect and activist who want to build Jerusalem's third temple

Uri Shapira

Senior Producer, Holy Land Uncovered | @UriShapira

4 min read
View of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City.
Arie Leib Abrams/FLASH90View of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City.

Acclaimed architect Haim Dotan and scholar-activist Hillel Weiss proposal meant to 'build Jerusalem, the temple city, and the road to peace'

Haim Dotan, an acclaimed architect who has won several international awards and also serves as a professor of architecture at leading institutes in China, recently became involved in the ambitious project of designing the third Jewish temple in Jerusalem.

Known for his extravagant projects, such as the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge in China - renowned as the tallest glass-bottomed bridge in the world – Dotan last year joined the right-wing activist and literature scholar Professor Hillel Weiss and pitched a session of the Jerusalem International Conference: “From the Umbilicus Mundi to the Four Corners of the Earth and Back.”

The conference, scheduled to take place this summer in Jerusalem, will be organized by the Yad Ben Zvi Institute, a prestigious research center in Israel. Dotan’s pitch, “Building Jerusalem, the temple city, and the road to peace,” was divided into three sections. 

The first was dedicated to the transportation and economy of the future “temple city” of the Israeli capital. The next pitch, entitled “From Vision to Practice,” described future plans for the Jerusalem of the Third Temple era, inspired by biblical sources.

“In the center of the plan, an open structure will be built above the Old City of Jerusalem. It will be shaped like a tent, a cloud, or a mountain. Six or eight bridges will connect constructive towers which will combine stairways and elevators, supporting upper Jerusalem,” the outline seen by i24NEWS stated.

A copy of the sketch also showed a cylinder-shaped structure connected by bridges.

Dotan’s pitch was dismissed by the Yad Ben Zvi Institute, which told i24NEWS that “the content of the paper handed by Doten and Weiss did not match the main themes of the conference, which is mainly focused on the historic side of the story and doesn’t pretend to deal with the future.”

In response, Weiss said, “I think we are considered a threat to the idea of internationalization of Jerusalem and all kind of inter-religious or anti-religious plans regarding the city.”

Several questions remain open in the proposal: Who would be in charge of the new temple? What would happen to the Al Aqsa Mosque, one of the most sacred sites in Islam, located on the Tempe Mount? What would the consequences of rebuilding a new Jewish temple be amid the complex flashpoint geopolitical atmosphere of the Middle East?

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This may be another far-fetched attempt that is ignored by authorities, but the fact that a prestigious architect – who is secular and doesn’t have any political background – is involved in such a project makes this case all the more interesting, if not more tangible.

Plans to rebuild the third Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam, are not new but have mostly faced strong resistance. In 1990, a deadly riot erupted on the Mount after a fringe Jewish group tried to lay the cornerstone of a third temple. 

Weiss himself was once a member of the “Sanhedrin” organization, a small body that aims to build an UN-like body based on the Jewish Torah law. 

“I only believe in peace and I don’t want any bloodshed,” Weiss said.

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