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Saving The Temple Mount
Interview by Shai Gefen

An exclusive interview with Mr. Gershon Solomon, head of the Ne’emanei Har HaBayis (Temple Mount Faithful), in which he decries the Palestinians’ ongoing and systematic destruction of our holiest site. “The Temple Mount is being profaned,” Mr. Solomon says. “There must be a public outcry against the desecration of the Holy of Holies.” 

The Israeli government reached a new low this week when it declared that the Muslim Waqf has ultimate authority over the Temple Mount (the Har HaBayis, site of the Beis HaMikdash). Over the past few weeks the Palestinians have been carrying out a process of systematically destroying some of the holiest and most historic Jewish artifacts, many dating back to the days of the Herodian Temple.

In permitting the Palestinians free reign, the status quo that existed on the Temple Mount since the Six Day War has been disrupted.

Most recently, when Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert issued a formal protest and demanded that a stop be put to the destruction, the Israeli public was shocked when Prime Minister Ehud Barak sided with the Palestinians. Many members of the ruling government coalition were also horrified by Barak’s reaction.

In this exclusive interview with Beis Moshiach, Gershon Solomon fills us in on the details:


The Temple Mount is again in the news. What exactly is going on there?

Right now the media are concerned with a certain breach in a wall that the Arabs have made. But there’s something more important at stake here than just a hole in a wall. Unfortunately, both the media and the Israeli government are throwing sand in the face of the Israeli public. What’s happening today is the biggest desecration of holiness that has ever occurred over the past two thousand years. For two thousand years, even during the worst of times, the remains of the Beis HaMikdash were always preserved. Ironically it’s only now, under a Jewish regime, that the Arabs are destroying these holy relics. Much of the complex goes back to the Second Temple. “Solomon’s Stables” aren’t just any ancient stables, they were a part of the Beis HaMikdash that was used by the Kohanim and where they maintained a mikva.

It’s an established fact that “Solomon’s Stables” were a part of the Beis HaMikdash?

Absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt. When King Herod renovated the Beis Mikdash he enlarged the area and built these halls that are now known as “Solomon’s Stables.” They are part of the Beis HaMikdash.

What exactly are the Arabs doing to the Temple Mount area?

Over the last few years, especially the past two, “Solomon’s Stables” have been systematically demolished and a third Arab mosque, rachmana litzlan, has been erected on the site. It is the largest mosque in the Middle East ever built on a holy Jewish site. It is an unbelievable, unparalleled and terrible chilul Hashem. And the Muslim Waqf continues to bring in members of the Palestinian Authority to participate in the destruction.

The Arabs are destroying everything. The demolition has now spread to the area known as the “Hulda Halls.” These elaborate halls were the main entrance to the Temple Mount area for the millions of Jews who would go up to Yerushalayim on the Three Festivals. After passing through the “Hulda Gates” to the south, the pilgrims would continue walking and congregate in the “Hulda Halls.”

The walls of these “Hulda Halls” were covered with priceless inscriptions, such as depictions of the “Seven Kinds.” The ceilings were elaborately decorated and there were many graceful marble columns. All of these have been destroyed and covered with cement by the Palestinians, who are now planning to build a fourth mosque on the Temple Mount. This happened just this past year, right under the nose of the Israeli government.

What, if anything, was done to try to prevent it?

I appealed to the Attorney General and the municipality of Jerusalem. As expected, neither paid much attention.

Four months ago we appealed to the Supreme Court of Israel. The Attorney General promised to check out the damage. He was really shocked when he saw what the Palestinians were doing.

But the damage isn’t even limited to the “Solomon’s Stables” and the “Hulda Halls.” The Arabs are destroying the entire Temple Mount! Over the past few years they have established ten places of worship in the area. They even built a monument to what they call the “Sabra and Shatila Massacre,” which contains nothing but slander and incitement against Jews. Their whole aim is to remove any sense of Jewish authority over the Temple Mount.

In your opinion, do you think this is being done by the Palestinian Authority as preparation for the talks on “final status”?

Without a doubt. In practice, the Palestinian Authority is already in complete control of the area. Up until recently, Jordan was officially in charge. But all authority has been gradually transferred over to Arafat over the past two years.

There isn’t even a semblance of Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount. The Israeli government is completely powerless, and isn’t even willing to address the issue. Everything is covered up. Just today we heard from Barak that the ten-meter excavation that has destroyed G-d-knows-what in the “Solomon’s Stables” was done with the full approval and blessing of the Israeli government. There is no end to the government’s capitulation. They’re simply afraid to deal with it.

Prime Minister Barak came out very strongly against Jerusalem Mayor Olmert for issuing a stop order to the Palestinians. Why is Barak so afraid?

This is the true tragedy of the Jewish people. Today we are externally weak because of our internal weakness. It is a tragedy that has plagued us for years. Everyone is responsible. No one in Eretz Yisroel can claim that he isn’t guilty. It was the city of Jerusalem that gave the Arabs control over the Temple Mount in the first place and allowed them to “Islamize” it. Now all the Jews are pointing fingers, trying to deflect criticism.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Olmert for having the guts and the sense of justice to come out publicly against this terrible chilul Hashem.

Then you’re saying, in effect, that the Temple Mount is no longer in Jewish hands...

I would put it in even sharper terms. Prime Minister Barak is establishing the capital of Palestine in Jerusalem, with its nerve center on the Temple Mount. Jerusalem is the Temple Mount. If the Arabs control the Temple Mount, there is no doubt that they will eventually control all of Jerusalem.

When did it all begin?

The truth is that it’s been going on for 15 years. How many petitions have we submitted to the Supreme Court to try to prevent what was happening? Each time we were assured by representatives of the Israeli government, the city of Jerusalem, and the Department of Antiquities that there was nothing to be afraid of, that the Arabs would never damage anything sacred to the Jews. Today, everyone sees where this has led us.

I’m happy to say that Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein has at least opened his eyes up to reality recently. But the truth is that it’s too late. Even though he himself has been horrified by the sheer scope of the damage, the Israeli government continues its policy of kowtowing and capitulation to the Palestinians. 

The Israeli government has already agreed to give up the Temple Mount and make it the capital of Palestine?

Without a shadow of a doubt. It is a terrible, tragic conspiracy against the Jewish people. The “final status” talks will result in a Palestinian capital being declared in “Abu Dis,” with a narrow corridor to the Temple Mount and the Muslim Quarter.

Another thing: The plan to divide Jerusalem up into “municipalities” is nothing but a thinly-veiled way of handing the Old City over to the Palestinian Authority. I’m telling you now that the government is fully planning on offering Jerusalem to Arafat and his band of murderers. Of course, they’ll try to disguise it in fancy words, as Yossi Beilin is so good at doing. But the Palestinian flag already flies over the Orient House.

What about the Temple Mount? Are they flying the Palestinian flag there too?

The Palestinian flag is flying over many different places. Of our own free will we are inviting one of the worst enemies of the Jewish people into the heart of Eretz Yisroel and into the heart of Jerusalem. Sooner or later that same enemy will, G-d forbid, wage war against us.

What about the rest of Jerusalem? What’s going on there?

Palestinian Authority soldiers are roaming freely throughout the Old City. They’re not even interested in obtaining official Israeli sanction  just look at the Orient House, they can do whatever they want. We are losing Jerusalem because we have handed the Temple Mount over to aliens, to wicked people.

I must tell you something that I find very painful. Everyone knows how the Mufti doesn’t shut his mouth about how sacred Jerusalem is to Islam, etc., etc. So why, l’havdil, hasn’t there been an outcry from our rabbanim, especially the Chief Rabbis, about how the Arabs are desecrating what is sacred and holy to us? Why don’t they just come out and say that what the Arabs are doing is a terrible crime that won’t be tolerated? Believe me, I find this very painful to say. It’s a pity that at such a crucial time the rabbanim aren’t coming forward with the voice of truth.

In the past they used to talk about reaching a “consensus” on Jerusalem. All the Israeli Prime Ministers insisted that Jerusalem is a city “forever unified.” So why are you worried, Mr. Solomon?

Because things have changed. The idea of “consensus” no longer exists. They talk openly about dividing the city up one way or another. The only argument nowadays is not “if” but “how.” And it’s not just so-called “leftists.” Even the right-wing governments abandoned the Temple Mount and Jerusalem and didn’t lift a finger to prevent their destruction.

You keep saying that Barak’s government is about to give up Jerusalem. Do you have proof, or is it only based your gut feelings?

I’ll give you a simple proof. A few months ago Yossi Beilin declared that the Israeli government is willing to allow the Palestinian flag to wave over the Temple Mount and turn it into an exclusively Muslim holy site. At the same time he also announced his plan to establish a Palestinian capital at Abu Dis.

The average man on the street assumes that Abu Dis is some remote Arab location. This is a mistake! Abu Dis is Jerusalem! It has already been demonstrated time and time again that the Israeli government always does whatever Yossi Beilin says. Never before in all of history has the Jewish people simply handed the Holy of Holies over to our enemies. Jerusalem is not Rechavya or Kikar Tziyon. Jerusalem is the Temple Mount and the Old City.

As I’m speaking now to Chabad Chassidim, I’d like to point out that the Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote a letter decades ago to a journalist at Hatzofeh, Yona Cohen, that the Jordanian flag would one day fly over the Temple Mount. All right, it’s not the Jordanian flag but the Palestinian flag, but it’s the same thing. The same sad prophecy has come to pass.

I myself merited to meet the Rebbe in person. Eretz Yisroel was the cornerstone of the Rebbe’s emuna. The Rebbe understood better than anyone how dangerous and what a terrible sin it is to give away portions of Eretz Yisroel, especially Jerusalem. The Rebbe warned us decades ago that the Arabs didn’t have their eye only on Judah and Samaria, they also want Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. To our great sorrow, the Rebbe’s prophecy is materializing right before our eyes every single day.

You met with the Rebbe several times. What can you tell us about these encounters?

I went to the Rebbe twice for dollars. The Rebbe encouraged me in my work and gave me a bracha. I could always sense how much the situation on the Temple Mount pained the Rebbe. The last time I saw him he told me that when Moshiach comes, our struggle for the Temple Mount will be crowned with success. For many years I felt the need to maintain contact with the Rebbe. Whenever I came away from an encounter with him I was immensely encouraged and uplifted. With G-d’s help, the Final Redemption will be very soon.

Tell us about the public awareness campaign your group has initiated.

Right now we’re planning several massive demonstrations to bring the issue of the Temple Mount to the forefront of the public consciousness. We’ll be lighting a Chanuka menora in front of the Orient House to protest against Palestinian control. We will also be demonstrating against the illegal destruction of Jewish artifacts on the Temple Mount.

Yet despite all your efforts, you really haven’t succeeded in winning mass support. Why do you think that is?

The biggest success we’ve had to date is just making the Temple Mount an issue. When we first started our struggle, the Israeli media referred to the area as Haram al-Sharif, never the Temple Mount. At least we’ve gotten people to think about it as the Temple Mount, and brought it to the attention of Israel and the rest of the world.

You mentioned public opinion. There were two polls taken recently, one of which was conducted by Gallup, which showed that 60% of the Israeli public supports the “Temple Mount Faithful.” The results were astounding.

So why are you ignored by the mainstream media?

I don’t think that’s true. They just see us as “extremists.” To them, the whole concept of the Temple Mount is extreme. They view our struggle over it as a “provocation,” and vilify anyone who shows any interest in taking back our holy places.

Why do the media try to present you as an illegal and dangerous group?

The fight over the Temple Mount is completely legitimate and legal, and they can’t do anything to stop it. We are not a clandestine group. Everything we do is open and above-board.

At one point, the Arabs demanded that the mayor of Jerusalem declare us illegal. But he told them that he couldn’t, because what we’re doing is perfectly legal. It’s obvious that they’re trying to contain us. The Arabs even came out with a death threat against me. They call me “the enemy of Islam.” But whatever the Arabs do or are planning to do shouldn’t interest us. The only thing we should be concentrating on is fulfilling our own obligations.

Look, the government already tried a “plant” to infiltrate our ranks and instigate a provocation. They’re doing it to prevent us from acting within legal parameters. But thank G-d, their plan with Avishai Raviv failed miserably.

Mr. Solomon, when did you first get involved in the struggle for the Temple Mount?

Over a year before the outbreak of the Six Day War. I was the commander of a parachuting engineering unit. We were a group of commandos who were sent on secret missions. One time we were attacked by Syrian forces. It was a terrible battle. The intensive fighting went on for over eight hours on the northern “finger” of the Galil, at Ramat HaBanyas. I was wounded very badly and spent an entire year in the hospital. But after I got out, I volunteered to rejoin my former unit. G-d gave me a special merit, that on the fourth day of the Six Day War my company and I were on the Temple Mount at the exact moment it was liberated. I was still walking with a cane because of my injuries.

I will never forget how we stood there and cried like babies. All of us felt an overwhelming gratitude to G-d for the z’chus of being able to do something that a hundred generations had been unable to do.

Unbelievably, it was only 12 hours later that Moshe Dayan took the Israeli flag down from the Dome of the Rock and begged the Arabs who had fled to return. They even gave them the keys back!

That was when I called my friends together and we formed the “Faithful of the Temple Mount and the Land of Israel.” We knew that a terrible wrong had been done in giving the Temple Mount back to the Arabs.

The late Rabbi Moshe Segal was one of the charter members of the group. There were also other rabbanim and men of vision who understood the significance of our struggle, which has lasted 32 years and is not yet over.

Can you tell us something about the recent archeological finds on the Temple Mount that relate to the Beis HaMikdash?

In the southern portion of the Temple Mount area, an ivory button in the shape of a pomegranate was found, which was apparently part of the Kohen Gadol’s clothing. This was one of the most exciting discoveries in the excavations. They also found a mikva in one of the tunnels outside the southern wall of the Temple Mount. This mikva was used by Kohanim who became impure in the middle of their avoda. They would leave whatever they were doing and go out to immerse themselves.

In the last few months the stairs leading up to the Temple Mount that were used by millions of pilgrims have been uncovered. But sad to say, no excavations have been done on the Temple Mount itself. I have no doubt that they would uncover extremely significant findings. Especially as the Talmud relates that the aron kodesh (Holy Ark) was hidden on the Temple Mount by King Yoshiahu right before the destruction of the First Temple. The Talmud even tells us exactly where it is buried.

I am aware of several other archeological finds, but for various reasons it is best to be discreet about them. The findings were immediately covered up for fear that the Arabs would destroy them. It’s better not to speak about it.

Is there any chance of finding the Temple’s vessels?

In my opinion, yes, including the aron kodesh. Many of the Torah commentators state that some of the vessels of the Beis HaMikdash were buried on the Temple Mount.

So what’s the bottom line, “the Temple Mount is not in our hands”?

If we want it, it will be in our hands. If the Jewish people want it, everything can change. History has proven that the Jews can survive even the harshest moments. “It is a time of trouble for Israel, but we will be saved.” We need to be like the Hashmonaim. The most important thing is for the Jewish people to hoist up a flag and cry out, “Whoever is for Hashem, come with me!” The Jewish people needs leadership that is faithful to the Torah and the G-d of Israel. It is truly pitiful that we’ve thrown away all of G-d’s miracles, rejected them outright with both hands, by signing agreements to give back that which G-d has placed in our control. The Rebbe said it himself many years ago. But as I said before, “It is a time of trouble for Israel, but we will be saved.”



What’s happening today is the biggest desecration of holiness that has ever occurred over the past two thousand years!





This is the true tragedy of the Jewish people. Today we are externally weak because of our internal weakness.





The last time I saw the Rebbe he told me that when Moshiach comes, our struggle for the Temple Mount will be crowned with success.


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