Answer: They can't. And yet, they do.
Muslims, Jews, and Christians all hold claim to Jerusalem. The balance of power has shifted wildly over the centuries, with Christians claiming the largest portion of the spirituality of the place because of Jesus, while the Muslims and Jews have fought over the ownership of the land for centuries.
One can not escape the political climate here. It's in the ether. It's worse than the political climate in America. Much worse. And yet, when you drive through the streets of Jerusalem, you would never know that tensions are often like dry kindling that any spark, or even just some intense heat, could set off into an uncontrollable blaze.
Muslim men and women wait for the bus standing next to Jewish men and women. There aren't many Palestinian Christians left in this place but they are noted by the gold crosses 'round their necks.
On the Israel sheckel, the image on the coinage is an olive branch. It is the symbol for peace.
And, any words of challenge or cries of protest are met with a charge of antisemitism.
As we passed Mt. Moriah (where Isaac was almost sacrificed), I thought about what must have happened to Isaac after his father tried to sacrifice him.
God also promised Hagar that God would make of Ishmael a great nation because he was of the seed of Abraham. However, God also told Hagar that her son would be living in conflict with his relatives. (Genesis 16:7-16)
Isaac is never again mentioned in scripture until after his mother dies. That leaves me to wonder where he might have gone. I imagine he was very angry with his father. I imagine he might have even been suffering from what we now know as PTSD.
A clue comes in Genesis 24 when Isaac appears to greet Rebekah, the woman his father has chosen for him to marry. We learn that Isaac "had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev." (Genesis 24:62)
When Hagar ran away from Sarah because she was being abused, an angel found her
"near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur." The angel told Hagar that she was pregnant and convinced Hagar to return to her mistress, telling her, "“I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.” (Genesis 16:10)
And, guess what the name of that well was?
". . . . the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered." (Gen 16:14)
It's just my conjecture - but when you do it with scripture it's called eisegesis - but I love the thought that Isaac ran to the other mother figure in his life, Hagar and found refuge there with her and his brother Ishmael.
I imagine that Isaac stayed there with them and only came out to meet Rebekah and then only went back after his mother died. He lived in his mother's tent with his wife.
He never saw his mother or father alive again.
Such a mixed-up, dysfunctional family, right?
So unlike the rest of us.
But, here's my thought: If the two brothers from different mothers in a wildly dysfunctional family could provide solace and comfort and companionship for each other, I'm thinking that there just might be hope that somewhere in the DNA of Muslims and Jews, there is a small thread of possibility for hope and reconciliation and peace.
Palm Fronds and Olive Branches.
They grow together in the same soil all over Israel.
Maybe it's a sign?
We can only hope.