Today was Tisha B’Av, one of the most solemn days of the year for observant Jews. It marks the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE. It is the day on which the Book of Lamentations, which commemorates the fall of Jerusalem, is recited in every synagogue in the world.
But in Israel, the firebrands of Israel’s most right-wing government ever aren’t in mourning. They’re rejoicing at the prospect of rebuilding the Temple. They have High Priests in training who are learning the ancient sacrificial rites at the Ateret Cohanim yeshiva in occupied East Jerusalem. The Temple Institute, which is masterminding much of the planning and preparation, is developing a social media strategy (“coming soon to your Facebook feed!”) which will popularize these incendiary ideas.
No matter that there already is a house of worship in the precise spot where the new Jewish temple would rise. That would be the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa which constitute the Haram al Sharif. Just as in India, when Hindu fanatics demolished a sacred Muslim shrine and provoked religious war between the two religious groups, building the Third Temple would mean destroying the Muslim holy sites. That, in turn, would mean almost certain holy war not just in Israel, but throughout the Muslim world.
You’d be making a mistake if you think Israel’s political leadership is worried about such an eventuality. On the contrary, many MKs and ministers believe that there must be a final reckoning with the Muslims of Palestine in which the Jews finally and ultimately vanquish them. It’s an End Times-like scenario. Except in this case, Israel has nuclear weapons which conceivably could become part of the Ultimate Solution to the “Arab problem.”
All this is by way of introducing you to Eli Dahan, Israel’s deputy defense minister and a leading settler rabbi/political leader. He was the keynote speaker at a Women in Green rally held in occupied East Jerusalem today, in which settlers marched provocatively through the Arab quarters of the city flourishing Israeli flags and racist slogans as they went.
You may recall that the founder of this settler group, Nadia Matar, told an audience at a Manhattan synagogue that Mahmoud Abbas should be assassinated:
“…Don’t you understand that in order to bring peace to Europe, one has to first destroy the Nazi beast? Today we must destroy all the terrorist organizations. We must kill all the terrorist leaders, starting with Mahmoud Abbas and all others.”
The other co-founder of Women in Green, Yehudit Katsover, told her audience that the reason the 9th of Av is a tragic day in Jewish history is because at a crucial moment when the Israelites prepared to conquer the Land of Israel, they hesitated in fear that they would fail due to the resistance of the existing inhabitants. Her message was that modern-day Israel too must be bold in its conviction that all of the land is theirs and that their will to conquer will carry the day. She railed against Pres. Obama’s so-called pressure against Israel, calling him a “pygmy.”
Dahan exhorted his listeners to remember that the Temple Mount is the ‘heart of the Jewish people,’ and that ‘without this heart there can be no body.’ He added:
We are here to announce that we’ve returned to Jerusalem and that we’re preparing our hearts to return to the Temple Mount and rebuild the Temple. We’re not ashamed of this: we want to build the Third Temple on the Temple Mount. The soldiers of Israel and its inhabitants know how to announce [to the world] that this is the heart and the essence [of the Jewish people]. Together, we will merit its rebuilding soon and in our day.”
There was a time decades ago when these ideas were anathema not just to secular Jews, but even Orthodox Jews. To this day, many rabbis tell their followers they may not set foot on the Temple Mount because it is the site of the destroyed Temple. But the caution and conservatism of the past is gone. Taboos have been broken and Jewish zealotry unleashed on the world. Meir Kahane played a critical role in this transformation. He is the spiritual father of the most noxious, dangerous form of idolatry to strike the Jewish people in decades, if not centuries.
Leaders like Nadia Matar, Yehudit Katsover and Eli Dahan are Angels of Death of Israel and the Jewish people. Their visions are poison. Not just for Jews or Israel, but for the entire region as well. If any of their dreams are ever realized they will be accompanied by rivers of blood. God help us, I hope it doesn’t come to that.