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Women and the Holy City: The Struggle over Jerusalem's Sacred Space, Lihi Ben Shitrit

Reviewed by Leonard Hammer

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Lihi Ben Shitrit's book examines two Jewish organizations, the Women for the Temple (WOT) and the Women of the Wall (WOW), and one Muslim movement, the Murabitat, to invoke a more feminist context that moves sacred space away from religious zealots and extreme actors toward one that is more mainstream and nonthreatening. Shitrit's contention in Women and the Holy City, however, is that while the role of women serves to involve wider and new constituencies within their religious groups, the women are also entrenching indivisibility at the Wall and the Haram, making shared possession more difficult. For instance, WOT's inherent inclusive nature overcame intracommunity divisions regarding Temple Mount ascension to remove connections with radical and intolerant Jewish groups. WOW's inclusiveness of all religious streams entrenches Jewish presence at the Wall, feeding into the Israeli occupation. Similarly, while the Murabitat movement opened doors for female involvement in Muslim affairs at a holy site like the Haram (leading to the creation of a female Waqf police force at the site), they are ensconced in occupation terminology regarding freedom of religion, at the expense of inculcating notions of equality and political rights that would better serve the Palestinians.

The importance of feminist involvement in sacred space is clearly benef

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