Editor's Note: Arafat and the entire Moslem World are demanding full control and sovereignty over the Temple Mount. At the same time they are denying any Jewish connection to the Temple and the Israeli government of PM Ehud Barak is agreeing with them. I felt it necessary to revive this older article for the record.
A Timely Reissue First Published on July 15, 1993 in the Jewish Herald-Voice, Houston
THE TEMPLE MOUNT FAITHFUL
Fanatics or Jewish Patriots?
By Bernard J. Shapiro
I got a call a few weeks ago from a friend and supporter who lived in Clear Lake. She told me with much enthusiasm that Gershon Salomon, leader and founder of the Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faithful, would be in Houston for just one day. Did I want to meet him? I said yes immediately and began calling a few of my friends to join me for that meeting.
I was fairly ignorant about what the Temple Mount Faithful stood for. I knew they wanted to rebuild the Temple of Solomon or the Third Temple but not much else. When I started inviting people to the meeting, I discovered quite a lot of negative feeling toward them. Rabbi Moishe Traxler was very helpful in explaining to me the Lubavitch position regarding the rebuilding of the Temple. They very clearly prohibit any activity on the Temple Mount until the coming of the Messiah. The Israeli Consul General Meir Romem was quick to tell me about the horrible international conquenses of attempting to rebuild the Temple. Romem also told me that he went to school with Salomon and that he was a charming person and Israeli war hero.
Others, including Rabbis of great note, told me the rebuilding of the Temple would require the introduction of animal sacrifices. My wife, a vegetarian and animal rights activist, was horrified by such a prospect. Obviously, there was a lot to discuss with Salomon and I looked forward to our meeting.
In his private life, Salomon is an expert researcher and lecturer in Middle Eastern studies, specializing in the history of the national movement of the Kurdish people. He is an officer in the Israel Defense Forces and a 10th generation Jerusalemite. He is descended from Rabbi Avraham Solomon Zalman Zoref who settled in Jerusalem in 1811 and was one of the first Jewish pioneers dedicated to the redemption of the Holy Land. Rabbi Zoref was assassinated by Arabs who thought they could stop his Godly mission. Salomon has fought in all of Israel's wars. Badly wounded on the Golan, when a tank ran over his legs, he walks now with crutches.
It was in one of those battles, as he lay dying, that he felt God telling him that He was not through with him. Salomon understood that this was a divine call to consecrate himself to the Redemption of all of Israel including the Temple Mount. The Mount came back into Israeli hands as a result of the Six Day War liberation of Jerusalem. In an act of great stupidity, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, a few days later, gave control of the Temple Mount to Moslem religious leaders. His reasoning was that this would prevent panic among the newly defeated Arab population. He also made great efforts to prevent Arabs from fleeing to Jordan. Today, as these same Arabs plot our demise, we realize how mistaken his policies were.
Gershon exploded all the myths about his group. Quoting Rambam, he explained that animal sacrifice is not necessary if the Temple is rebuilt. He talked about a process of REDEMPTION. First regain control of the Temple Mount. Second remove the Moslem buildings that desecrate our Holy Mount. Then the Temple (Beit Hamikdash) should be built. He was very clear on this: Building the Temple is preparatory process for Redemption. It is not an end in itself. Worship at the Temple would still await the Messiah. It is important, Salomon kept reiterating, that we PREPARE and WORK for Redemption. In other words, the Messiah will not come to Israel and reclaim the Temple Mount and rebuild the Temple. We must do those things BEFORE the Messiah comes, in order to CAUSE him to come.
What about the Arabs? Wouldn't they object to the removal of the Mosque of Omar (Dome of the rock) and the Al Aqsa mosque from the Temple Mount? Of course they would, but they have no legitimate rights in the area. From my Hindu friends I have learned how Moslem conquerors built mosques on Holy Places of other people in every part of the world. They did it to humiliate and degrade their subject nations. Salomon stated it bluntly, "There is no reason the sovereign State of Israel, needs to allow this desecration Jewish Holy Places to continue."
Today on the Mount, the Arabs are supreme. They are destroying all archaelogical remnants of Jewish sites. They are storing weapons in their mosques to kill Jews. They have built a museum to Palestinian nationalism, including gut-wrenching pictures from the battles of Sabra and Shatila. Tourists from the world over are told Jews committed these killings (It was Christians).
Salomon was a gentle, inspiring and very religious person. His firm belief in the coming Redemption made the discussion of politics seem irrelevant. He is not a fanatic but a Jewish patriot of the highest rank. I am not competent to discuss Halacha with reference to the Mount. I do know that it is wrong for us to allow the Arab desecration of our people's most Holy Site. What about the consequences of our asserting our rights to the Temple Mount? The Moslems cannot hate us anymore, and the Christian world will be electrified with anticipation of coming of the Messiah. In fact, Christians the world over will raise millions of dollars to help us rebuild the Temple. As in the days of Solomon, the nations of the world will send their best architects, artisans and materials to help build the Temple. Jews in the diaspora will be inspired to "go up to Jerusalem" and join in the sacred process of Redemption. (From my mouth to G-d's ear).