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Jeremy’s joke

Those sincerely involved in the movement to rebuild the Holy Temple are men of integrity and peace

The latest tempest in the mucky teapot of accusations, blind hatred and unbridled hubris leading up to the quadrennial orgy that is election season in Israel, is the Tzipi Livni Movement party’s call for the disqualification of American-born Jeremy Gimpel, number 14 on the Jewish Home list and according to polls, a probable member of Israel’s 19th Knesset.

The complaint against Gimpel is based on an address the Atlanta native gave to a group of Christian Zionists in Florida in November 2011, in which he states “Imagine today if the golden dome, I’m being recorded so I can’t say blown up, but let’s say it was blown up, right, and we laid the cornerstone of the Temple in Jerusalem. Can you imagine what would be? None of you would be here. You would be going to Israel. It would be incredible.”

Tzipi maintains that this reference to the Dome of the Rock ‘blowing up’ and laying the cornerstone for the Temple in Jerusalem is grounds for disqualification from the elections to the Knesset on the grounds of incitement to racism. Gimpel, for his part, has countered that that the accusations are ‘ridiculous,’ and the section in the video clip has been taken out of context, since it was a lecture about the book of Ezra, a story that happened over 2,000 years ago. Whew.

Jeremy further explains that he was only joking around. “The controversy is ridiculous,” Gimpel said. “In order to make the lecture more lively I made a few jokes and you clearly hear the audience laughing. This is a cheap political attack and I would urge anyone to watch the video in its entirety and decide for yourselves.”

Come on, Tzipi, you can’t fault a fellow for a harmless quip. However, Tzipi Livni is extremely concerned that Naftali Bennett’s “strange list that he is taking to the Knesset seeks to inflame the Middle East and to bring on a third world war with its crazy visions of building a temple.”

The press has more than accommodated Tzipi in bringing this story to our attention. But what about actual racism, incitement to murder and contempt for the State of Israel? Tzipi is not bothered about Haneen Zoabi, who participated in the Gaza “protest” flotilla. She is equally unconcerned about Ahmed Tibi, who praises the PA’s ‘martyrs,’ posts the Star of David composed of dogs on his Facebook page, and says that he “bows his head before the Palestinian ‘martyrs’” who have murdered Israeli children. And the Israeli press, of course, could care less as well; after all, the Supreme Court has already determined that these are not grounds for disqualification.

None of this should come as any surprise. As far as Jeremy’s joke is concerned, though – that’s no laughing matter. Isn’t it a shame that an observant, land-of-Israel-loving, enthusiastic candidate for Israel’s Knesset has to quickly explain that whatever reference he made to rebuilding the Holy Temple, was only a joke?

Let’s get one thing straight: true Temple activists never speak about ‘blowing up the Dome,’ even in jest. Firstly, those who are sincerely involved in the movement towards rebuilding the Holy Temple are men of integrity and peace; secondly, it’s not funny; thirdly, it is an immature, imprudent, and irresponsible way of speaking. The problem isn’t the Dome; the problem isn’t even Islam. It’s just the same ol’ Jewish problem: Who are we? What are we doing in this land? What are our goals? Do we have a destiny? And above all, what would we like to be – not when – but if we ever grow up.

The Holy Temple is promised to be the house of prayer for all nations, and its rebuilding will herald an unparalleled era of peace, understanding, and unity, a veritable reunion of the family of man. That much we get from the book of Ezra. When we really take responsibility for who we are and become the people we were meant to be – when the people of Israel stop playing games and decide to bring light into the world – all will welcome the rebuilding of the Holy Temple. And that’s no joke.

About the Author
Rabbi Chaim Richman is the director of the international department of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem. For over three decades the Temple Institute has been dedicated to every aspect of the Biblical commandment to build the Holy Temple. Through its research and educational programming, the Institute seeks to highlight the universal significance of the Holy Temple as a house of peace and prayer for all nations.