Tag Archives: Jerusalem

Ready to Rebuild: The Temple in Scripture

[vimeo 6232411]

Ready to Rebuild? The Temple in Scripture from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

On January 8, 2001, former Shin Bet secret service chief Carmi Gillon and former police commissioner Assaf Hefetz together with leading Israeli academics delivered a report to the then, Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, detailing their concerns regarding plots by several Jewish extremist groups, to blow up the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. Gillon and Hefetz founded Keshev, the Centre for the Protection of Democracy, based in Tel Aviv, after the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin. Their report, entitled, ‘Target Temple Mount’ examined current threats to the Temple Mount from extreme militant and Messianic groups. It concluded,

‘The Temple Mount is like a smouldering volcano that is bubbling and threatening to erupt – a threat that is liable to endanger Israel’s existence.’[1]

Six months later, in July 2001, the Rabbinical Council of Judea, Samaria and Gaza reversed the position taken for nearly 2000 years. They called upon all rabbis to take their communities to visit the Temple Mount. This was the first time a group of rabbis representing a significant proportion of the religious Jewish community had ruled it permissible for Jews to ascend the Temple Mount. Previously this had been forbidden because Jews might walk on the area what used to be the sacred holy of holies.

The rabbis also called upon the Yesha Council of Jewish settlements to organise mass visits to the Temple Mount from the settlements.[2] As a result around 500,000 secular, religious and ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered near the Temple Mount at the Western Wall ‘and swore faithfulness to the Temple Mount and Jerusalem.’[3] In the same month, July 2001, the Israeli Supreme Court made an equally momentous decision. For the first time ever they gave permission to Gershon Saloman and the Temple Mount Faithful to hold a symbolic cornerstone laying ceremony for the Third Temple near the Dung Gate adjacent to the Western Wall. Every year on Tisha B’Av (29th July), the day when Jews mourn the destruction of the first and second Temples, Salomon and his Faithful drive a lorry carrying three ton corner stones as near as possible to the Temple Mount. In 2006, despite police objections, the Israeli Supreme Court gave them permission to actually enter the area of the Haram Al Sharif on the festival of Tisha B’Av. To pre-empt a massacre, the police closed the site to Jews as well as Muslims for the whole day. Intelligence reports revealed that thousands of Muslims were planning to flock to the site to protect it.[4] On Tisha B’Av in July 2007, in 2008 and yet again this July, Salomon and his disciples have asserted their legal right to hold a ceremony nearby. Salomon’s agenda is clear and unambiguous.

“The Israeli Government must do it. We must have a war. There will be many nations against us but God will be our general. I am sure this is a test, that God is expecting us to move the Dome with no fear from other nations. The Messiah will not come by himself, we should bring him by fighting.”[5]

Since 1967, when Israel took the Temple Mount by force, there have been no less than 100 armed assaults on the Haram Al Sharif often led by Jewish rabbis.[6] An Israeli Arab MP, Mohammed Barakeh described the Israeli High Court’s decision as like putting ‘petrol in the hands of declared pyromaniacs.’  And it seems some Christians  too are convinced the Jewish Temple must be rebuilt. So much so, they are funding Jewish groups committed to removing the Dome of the Rock and replacing it with a Jewish Temple.

But aren’t we just dealing with a small bunch of religious fundamentalists and radical extremists? If only. Millions of Orthodox Jews worldwide pray three times a day “may the Temple be speedily rebuilt in our days”. And millions of Christians readily buy books on prophecy that predict it. And it seems, most Israelis, religious and secular, apparently agree.

Read more here and listen here

Share Button

The Battle for Jerusalem

The Battle for Jerusalem from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

What provides you with most security? After your faith and your family, what comes next? Probably your home.

It is probably your largest monthly financial expense or, if the mortgage is paid, your most valuable asset. You may have only just moved in yesterday. Your life, your memories, your hopes and dreams are still carefully packed away in those unopened boxes, but it is still your home. Or you may be living in your parents home. You may have been born there, grown up there, never spent a night anywhere else. What ever, your home is your security. The place where you can lock the door, feel secure, be yourself, protect your loved ones, raise your family.

Now imagine losing it. Not to a mortgage company through repossession, not because of a divorce settlement or an act of nature be it fire or flood, but lose it violently to a foreign government. Imagine being woken at 6:00am by riot police with dogs and bulldozers. They force you out at gun point.

They give you 15 minutes to remove your possessions.

They demolish your home in front of you. Then a week later, they send you the bill. It happens every day. Salim and Arabiya Shawamreh live in Anata, a village to the east of Jerusalem.

In June, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that their home could be demolished – for the fifth time. Four times it has been demolished and four times friends and international volunteers have rebuilt it.

Continue reading

Share Button

Statement by the Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem on the current devastating situation in Gaza


Photograph: Adel Hana/AP

We, the Patriarchs, Bishops and the Heads of Christian Churches in Jerusalem, follow with deep concern, regret, and shock the war currently raging in the Gaza Strip and the subsequent destruction, murder and bloodshed, especially at a time when we celebrate Christmas, the birth of the King of love and peace. As we express our deep sorrow at the renewed cycle of violence between Israelis and Palestinians and the continued absence of peace in our Holy Land, we denounce the ongoing hostilities in the Gaza Strip and all forms of violence and killings from all parties. We believe that the continuation of this bloodshed and violence will not lead to peace and justice but breed more hatred and hostility – and thus continued confrontation between the two peoples.

Accordingly, we call upon all officials of both parties to the conflict to return to their senses and refrain from all violent acts, which only bring destruction and tragedy, and urge them instead to work to resolve their differences through peaceful and non-violent means.

We also call upon the international community to fulfill its responsibilities and intervene immediately and actively stop the bloodshed and end all forms of confrontation; to work hard and strong to put an end to the current confrontation and remove the causes of conflict between the two peoples; and to finally resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a just and comprehensive solution based on international resolutions.

To the various Palestinian factions we say: It is time to end your division and settle your differences. We call on all factions at this particular time to put the interests of the Palestinian people above personal and factional interests and to move immediately toward national comprehensive reconciliation and use all non-violent means to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the region.

Finally, we raise our prayers to the Child in the manger to inspire the authorities and decision makers on both sides, the Israelis and Palestinians, for immediate action to end the current tragic situation in the Gaza Strip. We pray for the victims, the wounded and the broken-hearted. May the Lord God Almighty grant all those who have lost loved ones consolation and patience. We pray for all those living in panic and fear, that God may bless them with calm, tranquility and true peace.

We call on all to observe next Sunday, January 4, as a day for justice and peace in the land of peace.

+ Patriarch Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
+ Patriarch Fuad Twal, Latin Patriarchate.
+ Patriarch Torkom II, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate.
Fr. Pier Battista Pizzaballa, ofm, Custody of the Holy Land
+ Anba Abraham, Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate.
+ Archbishop Swerios Malki Mourad, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate.
+ Abune Matthias, Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate
+ Archbishop Paul Nabil Sayyah, Maronite Patriarchal Exarchate.
+ Bishop Suheil Dawani, Episcopal Church of Jerusalem & the Middle East.
+ Bishop Munib Younan, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan & the Holy Land.
+ Bishop Pierre Malki, Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate
+ Bishop Youssef Zre’i, Greek Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate.
Fr. Raphael Minassian, Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate

Read John McArthy If it were your home, what hope restraint? and Ilan Pappe Israel’s Righteous Fury and its Victims in Gaza

The Narrow Gate of Justice: Sabeel Statement
Pirates of the Mediterranean: Gaza Update
Photos of Gaza

Share Button