For three decades, Gershon Solomon, a militant Israeli who heads an organization dedicated to the destruction of Jerusalem's most holy Islamic shrine, has led Zionist zealots in armed assaults on the Muslim grounds of Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, that encloses both the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosque.
No Israeli political leader has spoken out against the assaults on the Mosque, holy to a billion Muslims around the world. Moreover, no Israeli rabbi has condemned them. Indeed, beginning in 1967, many of the assaults were led by Jewish rabbis.
I first heard about the Israeli militants' intent to destroy the mosque in 1979 when I went to Jerusalem. I talked at length with Bobby Brown, and third-generation American from Brooklyn, flying to the Jewish state and instantly became a new citizen, confiscated land from Palestinians to help build an illegal Jewish settlement. "The mosque," he told me, "has got to go. It is a blot in our land."
Militant Jews such as brown and Solomon want a Jerusalem that is pure Jewish - without evidence of inhabitants of the other monotheistic faiths and their shrines. Surprisingly, millions of U.S. evangelical Christians endorse and financially support this Jewish plan.
Although united in the immediate goal of destroying the mosque, the Israeli militants and Christian zealots have different long-range agendas.
Secular Jews, such as Stanley Goldfoot, one of the perpetrators of the dynamiting in 1946 of the King David Hotel which killed some 100 Christian, Muslim and Jewish civilians, want the mosque destroyed for political reasons. Other Jews believe that the building of the temple on the Muslim grounds will usher in the Jewish Messiah.
A growing number of Christians embrace the idea that in all history, Israel is on the center stage. They say God has planned epochs of time ("dispensations") such as the "in-gathering of the Jews in the ancient land of Canaan. One epoch, they say, includes the present time when Jews are obligated to build a Jewish temple and re-institute animal sacrifice, Such epochs or "dispensations" are necessary, they say before Christ can return. Ironically, while Christian dispensationalists place Israel as the most important nation in all the world, they do respect or even like Jews-as Jews. Yet, because they believe Christ can only land in a "safe" area near Jerusalem, they make a cult of the land. They thus give total, unquestioned support to Israel.
Goldfoot and Solomon are welcome in countless U.S. pulpits, where Christian Zionists give generous donations of money, as well as their gold weeding rings and gold earrings to finance the mosque's destruction They know its destruction might well trigger wars culminating in Armageddon,but they welcome this. They push Armageddon along, saying they, as "Born Again Christians," will be spared any suffering, because they will be "Raptured," wafted up into heaven to view the slaughter below. "I am not worried," Lynchburg, Virginia televangelist Jerry Falwell shouts. "You know why? I ain't gonna be here!"
This dispensationalist doctrine, less then 200 years old, pervades Assemblies Of God, Pentecostal and other charismatic churches, as well as the 16 million-member Southern Baptist Convention and countless so-called Bible churches and mega-churches. It's estimated that at least one out of every 10 Americans is a devotee of this cult.
In both Israel and the U.S., a conspiracy of silence reigns as militants lay siege to the Jerusalem mosque. No political leader - or religious leader- in Israel or the U.S. has addressed this issue. In the case of Israeli rabbis, if they themselves have not aided and abetted planned assaults on the mosque, they have kept silent. In the case of all major U.S. Christian church leaders - the voices that are heard through out the land- if they themselves are not raising money to destroy the mosque, they keep silent about the conspiracy.
"I don't favor it," one Christian told me. "But if it happens"- the destruction of the mosque-"it doesn't mean I won't support."
ASSAULTS ON THE MOSQUE
TWO GROUPS IN PARTICULAR are dedicated to the destruction of Jerusalem's most sacred Islamic shrine: the Militant Bloc of the Faithful or Gush Emunim, led by rabbis such as Moshe Levinger; Ateret Cohanim, a Jewish yeshiva composed of militant Jewish students and their rabbis.
Fundamentalist, militant Christians, who also want the mosque destroyed, give support and financial aid to both of these Israeli organizations, as do wealthy American Jews.
Beginning in 1967, when Israel militarily seized Arab East Jerusalem, Jewish terrorists on more than 100 occasions have laid siege to the Muslim Mosque. Here are a few of the assaults:
August 1967. Chief Chaplain of the Armed Forces Shlomo Goren - later Israel's chief rabbi - leads 50 armed extremists onto Haram al-Sharif. "It is a holy commandment," Goren said, for Jews to go to the Muslim grounds, which Jews call the Temple Mount." Writing in an Israeli publication,Eti Ronel reports: "Many rabbis, including members of the Council of the Chief Rabbinate, support. "Jewish sovereignty" over Haram al-Sharif.
August 21, 1969. Jewish extremists set fire to Al Aqsa, destroying a priceless wood and ivory pulpit sent from Aleppo by the Muslim ruler Saladin. The arson prompts the United Nations Security Council to condemn Israel's failure to curb terrorist attacks on Islam's shrine. Four months later (12/19/69) a group of militant Jews storm their way to Haram al-Sahrif, in order, they claim, "conduct Hanukkah prayers."
March 3, 1971. Gershon Solomon leads Temple Mount Faithful followers onto Haram al-Sharif. After struggling with Palestinian guards, they are expelled. Three years later (3/3/74) Solomon again, with followers, storms the Mosque. Again (7/14/78) Solomon leads militant Jews onto the Islamic holy grounds. Palestinians stage protests. Israeli troops hurl tear gas to quell the rioting.
August 10, 1980. Three hundred Gush Emunim fanatics, heavily armed, overcome Palestinian police and storm the grounds, but are later dispersed. A month later (9/15/80) armed Gush Emunim settlers associated with Stanley Goldfoot and the Temple Mount Faithful again force their way onto the Mosque grounds. After scuffling with police they are evicted.
April 11, 1982. Alan Goodman, an Israeli citizen with a U.S. passport, marches into al Aqsa with an M-16 rifle and opens fire on worshippers, killing two Palestinians and wounding others. In November 1997, the Israeli government releases Goodman. Unrepentant, Goodman boasts, "I fulfilled my mission."
July 25, 1982. Yoel Lerner, a member of the militant Meir Kahane Kach movement, storms the mosque grounds with plans to dynamite and destroy the Dome of The Rock.
March 10, 1983. Armed Gush Emunim fanatics climb walls onto Haram al-Sharif, attempting to overcome security guards and take the mosque by storm. They have in their possession large quantities of explosives, automatic rifles and pistols. Twenty-nine are charged and held for trial.
September 21, 1983. An Israeli court acquits the 29 Jewish terrorists who six months earlier had laid siege on the mosque.
January 27, 1984. In the most ambitious plot to dynamite and destroy the mosque, Jewish terrorists, armed with 250 pounds of explosives, including dozens of grenades, boxes of dynamite and 12 rounds of mortar, attempt to dynamite and destroy the mosque. They are led by Rabbi Moshe Levinger,one of the most militant of Jewish extremists.
1994. The Israelis appoint Meir Davidson, a senior official of Ateret Cohanim, as municipal adviser on Palestinian properties. This signals the Israeli government will work closely with an organization whose aim is destruction of the mosque.
September 1996. Ateret Cohanim, funded largely through tax-exempt dollars donated by rich American Jews, including Miami millionaire Irving Moskowitz, opened a tunnel - excavated in secret night-time operations - that runs the length of the Al Aqsa complex. The controversial tunnel sparked intense fighting which claimed the lives of 60 Palestinians and 15 Israeli soldiers. Israeli Prime Minister Binyiman Netanyahu proudly visited the tunnel, as have fundamentalist Christian leaders.
October 18, 1998. Gershon Solomon, with followers waving Israeli flags and blowing rams' horns, mounts a ramp to the mosque grounds. "The time has come to rebuild the Jewish Temple," said Solomon. To underscore this point, Solomon parked near an Old City gate a flatbed truck carrying a 4 ton marble "cornerstone" for that new temple. __ G.H.
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