Tensions were already simmering in Jerusalem after last week's shooting of a prominent Jewish Temple Mount activist, and now new Muslim threats have been issued against those who advocate for Jewish access to the holy site.
On Sunday morning, four days after the attempted assassination of American-born activist Rabbi Yehuda Glick, a list appeared on an Islamic social media site targeting several other religious activists and warning them to stop pushing for Jews to be allowed to pray on the Temple Mount.
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Glick was shot three times Wednesday night outside of Jerusalem's Menachem Begin Heritage Center by an Arab Muslim who was killed the next morning in a shoot-out with Israeli police. Glick, chairman of the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation, had just given a speech on the significance of the Jewish Temple when he was approached in the parking lot by a 32-year-old Arab man and shot three times.
See Rabbi Yehuda Glick interviewed by "Islamic Antichrist" author Joel Richardson in the eye-opening new film documentary, "End Times Eyewitness: Israel, Islam and the Unfolding Signs of the Messiah's Return"!
"Thank G-d, Yehuda Glick is recovering well," said Rabbi Chaim Richman, international director of the Temple Mount Institute in Jerusalem, in an email message to WND Sunday.
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Richman, like Glick, is a leader in the growing Jewish Temple movement. They carry out their work knowing they are firmly in the sights of jihadist assassins. And if they needed any fresh evidence of the dark cloud that follows them, it came on Sunday.
Marked for death?
Richman said he spent Sunday morning providing information to Jerusalem police about the list of more than a dozen targeted Jewish activists that appeared on the Internet. His name and picture was on the list.
"This morning, a 'list' of other Temple activists who are being targeted, appeared on the Internet, on Islamic social media. This list features myself, as well as Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, the founder of the Temple Institute," Richman said. "The police have been made aware."
He provided a scan of the list to WND.
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"All of our names are translated here into Arabic, and the bottom features a caption in Hebrew that reads: 'We, the Muslims, will not allow anyone to touch Al Aksa. Your actions are liable to drag the entire region into war. The Al Aksa mosque is for Muslims only, and we will not allow you to control it.'"
Glick's vision of three faiths – Islam, Christianity and Judaism – sharing the Temple Mount is something that has been slowly gaining traction among Jews in Israel, and some believe it could be the key to a future solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
That would require a major change of heart on the part of Islamic leaders.
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Any mention of sharing the holy site with Jews is anathema to Muslims, who consider it tantamount to a declaration of war. The second Intifada was touched off in 2000 when then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made a visit to the Temple Mount, which was seen by Muslims as an unforgivable provocation.
But just as it appears Glick will miraculously survive the three bullets fired into his chest at point-blank range, his dream of a shared rebuilt temple atop God's holy mountain also lives on, say those who share his vision.
'Temple Mount is key to everything'
The city remains on edge with all eyes now on the Temple Mount. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called for calm on both sides Thursday and asked leaders to refrain from any further inflammatory comments, saying it was imperative to maintain the "status quo" on the Temple Mount.
"No one can deny the urgency and the centrality of this issue, following the attempt made against Yehuda Glick. It has become the No. 1 news story here in Israel," Richman told WND. "Everyone now understands, in a brand new way, what we have been teaching for years – that the Temple Mount is the key to everything. That the destiny of the Jewish people is totally bound up with the Temple Mount and the rebuilding of the Holy Temple."
Richman said that for many years he, Glick and Ariel, among others, have zeroed in on the Temple Mount as the key to sustaining Israel's identity on the international stage.
He said Israel must "realign ourselves, as a nation, to realize the importance of this holy place in the life of the people of Israel and that of the whole world."
Since regaining control of the Old City in 1967, a series of complicated agreements with the Muslim Waqf and the state of Jordan allows Jews to pray at the Western Wall but not atop the hill where two ancient Jewish temples once stood.
Glick has been trying to change that and paid the price. An almost ritualistic celebration over Glick's shooting broke out in East Jerusalem while Palestinian leaders demonized him and glorified the man who attempted his murder as a heroic "martyr" or "shahid."
The Palestinian Fatah Party issued a statement calling Glick an "extremist Zionist" and referred to the attempt on his life as "the assassination of the despicable Glick."
That characterization of Glick as an uncompromising zealot is at odds with reality, according to Joel Richardson, a Christian author and filmmaker whose most recent project, "End Times Eyewitness," features clips of Glick talking about his desire for peace with the Muslims.
Watch Rabbi Glick speak about his vision for the Temple Mount in video below:
Another organization in Jerusalem working for a peaceful resolution to the Temple Mount issue is the Interfaith Encounter Association. Its leaders have a vision of "inter-communal relations characterized by mutual understanding, respect, trust and care," said its founder and executive director, Yehuda Stolov, who responded to WND via email about the rising tensions.
Stolov told WND his organization will not be deterred by any attempts to derail peaceful overtures among the major religions, no matter how violent or extreme.
"We believe the way to achieve that is through forming and sustaining more and more on-going groups of interfaith encounter that are growing seeds of the desired relations," Stolov said. "We believe this is a long process and are very much aware of many processes that work on the other direction, such as the attempted assassination of Rabbi Glick.
"But we do not despair and continue to work along the lines of the saying of a wise man: 'a winner is a looser that didn't quit.' We strongly believe that even though it will take time, our vision will be fulfilled and when it is a reality – the city, and land, will be happily shared and there will be no problem for Jews to pray on the Temple Mount, as there will be no problem for Muslims to pray in Al Aqsa."
What did OT Bible prophets predict?
It is against this backdrop of extreme anti-Semitism, tension and mutual distrust that the biblical prophets Daniel and Isaiah predicted a historic peace pact would be reached over the thorny issue of Jerusalem and its holy places.
Richardson, author of "The Islamic Antichrist," says the Antichrist, whom he believes will rise from the Middle East and be an adherent of the Muslim faith, will be a clever deceiver. He will appear at first as a man of peace.
"Scripturally speaking, we look at the career of the Antichrist, who will be a deceiver, and he's able to engage in a seven-year covenant with Israel (Daniel 9 and Isaiah 28) so he emerges seemingly as a man of peace that is able to engage Israel on a political level," Richardson told WND. "Most likely, this covenant will allow concessions with the Jews such as allowing them to rebuild their Temple, and in the middle of that he will violate that covenant. Right now, the atmosphere is not such that the Muslims would allow the Jews to share the Temple Mount, but something is going to happen that would force them to accept that."
Return of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland in Israel in 1948 was the most significant end-times prophecy to be fulfilled to date. But the next big event, as seen by millions of Christians, would be the rebuilding of the temple.
"The rebuilding of the temple is the next major sign of the end of the age and return of the Lord," Richardson said. "We're not there yet but we are moving forward toward that eventuality. And there is some unforeseen event that will force the issue, either the Israeli government says 'we're going to do this' or something else occurs. My guess is, Israel says, 'OK we'll give you a Palestinian state, but you give us the right to pray on the Temple Mount.'"
Whether the attempt on his life will set back Glick's vision for a shared Temple Mount, or help propel it forward, remains to be seen. But both sides appear to be digging in their heels in the wake of the assassination attempt.
While the Bible predicts there will one day be a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem, the nature of that Temple is less clear. Will it be strictly Jewish, or will it be a "House of prayer for all nations" as the prophet Isaiah speaks of and some, such as Glick, have been promoting?
In the court of public opinion, Glick had been making considerable progress in his push for Jewish access to the Temple Mount, as pointed out in "End Times Eyewitness." That groundbreaking film revealed, through interviews with Glick and other Jewish and Muslim leaders, that the idea of two religions historically at odds coming together in the end times is not out of the question.
'A great spiritual awakening' in Israel
While Glick is portrayed in the mainstream media as a hardline activist rabbi looking to stoke confrontational religious fires, he comes across in Richardson's film as a friendly, passionate man seeking reconciliation with his Arab brothers – some would say to a fault.
But despite his characterization in the media as a religious zealot, recent polls taken in Israel show that Glick's views are increasingly within the mainstream of Israeli thought.
In recent years, Jewish visits to the Temple Mount have increased by over 30 percent, despite the fact that they face aggressive taunting and harassment by Muslims whenever they venture up to the mount. Richman sees that as evidence that the work of Glick and other activists is paying dividends.
Watch the 'Muslim hate-fest' as Jews visit the Temple Mount in video below:
"There is a great spiritual awakening and collective national repentance, so to speak, toward returning to the Temple Mount," Richman told WND. "We see the struggle for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount to be a struggle for basic human rights. The Temple is prophesied to be the house of prayer for all nations. More and more of the people of Israel are reconnecting with the Temple Mount and on the political spectrum, more than 10 percent of the Knesset members are in favor of legislation allowing Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount.
"So I think ultimately this positive trend will continue as we continue to fight for Jewish prayer, and as we continue to educate concerning the Temple Mount and the ultimate rebuilding of the Holy Temple."
Polls taken by Israeli media show that more than 60 percent of Israelis, both religious and non-religious, believe the Jewish people should be allowed to go up to the Temple Mount for prayer and reflection.
"So we have this man (Glick) who's devoted his life to the Jews being able to go on the Temple Mount. Could this assassination attempt on his life raise the issue and bring it more to the forefront with even more Jews beginning to say, 'you know, why shouldn't we be able to go on the most holy spot to pray?'" Richardson asks.
He thinks that's a definite possibility.
Meanwhile, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas looks more and more intransigent by inciting his people to violence in the wake of the attack on Glick. When Israeli officials temporarily closed the Temple Mount for security reasons in the hours following the shooting, Abbas immediately called it "a declaration of war."
"Even secular Israelis, I think, are going to look at that and say we're not dealing with people who are reasonable here," Richardson said. "It's never going to be that way, and if we ever want the right to pray on the Temple Mount it's not just going to be something the Muslims are going to capitulate on. It may be something that requires legislation on the part of the Israeli government to say 'we're going to do this now.'
"Christians have always said something has got to happen – some big, unforeseen event – that would catapult the prophetic timetable forward."