MK Candidate Joked with Church Group about Dome of the Rock being “Blown Up”

This one is being reported widely; from Haaretz:

Atlanta-born Jeremy Gimpel, who moved to Israel at the age of 11, is angling for a seat with Habayit Hayehudi and serving as a voice for English speakers in the West Bank.

…Now Gimpel, who sits precariously at number 14 on the party’s list, faces a more uncertain future following Channel 2′s broadcast Friday of a video in which he makes controversial remarks about the Dome of the Rock, the Muslim shrine located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Speaking at the Fellowship Church in Florida in 2011, Gimpel… reads from the book of Ezra then adds: “Imagine if the Golden Dome – I’m being recorded so I can’t say ‘blown up’ – but let’s say the Dome was blown up, right? And we laid the cornerstone of the Temple in Jerusalem. Can you imagine? None of you would be here. All of you would be like, ‘I’m going to Israel, right?’ No one would be here, it would be incredible!”

Gimpel now explains that this was a “joke”. I noted Gimpel back in 2006, when Agape Press (now OneNewsNow) unaccountably described him as being an “IDF spokesman”, based on the fact that he’s an IDF reservist with an unrelated radio show. At that time, Gimpel was visiting New Orleans to talk to a group called “Manna from Heaven Ministries“. He also met up with Maggid ben Yoseif, who is a “Joe”; this is someone who has an inner conviction that he is a member of the lost tribes of Israel, and destined to replace the Palestinians in the West Bank.

The Fellowship Church, based in Winter Springs, is typical of a growing strand in American Evangelicalism in which Jewish cultural forms are appropriated as “Hebrew roots”; according to the church’s blurb:

…We identify with all who know God and serve Him through Jesus the Messiah. We identify with Israel and the international Jewish community as the elect people of God. We identify with upright men everywhere who both fear the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and seek to walk uprightly before Him. We identify with the person in bondage to Sin because we all have a sinful past from which God, by His grace, has rescued us. Our two-fold mission is to confirm God’s promises to His people, Israel, and to demonstrate His grace toward all men as expressed through Messiah Jesus (Romans 15:8-9).

Further:

An exciting area of ministry has developed in Israel. We as a congregation have become active in the settlement movement in the Land of Israel and in the struggle for the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Both of these areas are crucial for the continuation of God’s redemptive purpose in the midst of His people Israel.

The site also mentions “our sister Israeli community, Kedumim, ‘The Vanguard of Jewish Resettlement in Biblical Samaria’”.

Returning to Haaretz:

Gimpel has also hosted church groups in his home in the settlement of Neveh Daniel, where he lives with his wife Tehila, a Cleveland-born lawyer, and their three children.

He denies speaking to or accepting donations from Messianic Jewish groups.

This highlights a particular problem for Gimpel from the right: forging links with right-wing Christian groups is one thing, but associations with “Messianic” Jews would be controversial: just the other day, the MK Ben Ari was reprimanded for ripping up a Christian Bible he had received in July (“those who sent the book to MKs wanted to trample the bodies of the millions of martyrs who were murdered for being Jewish”). Gimpel himself has spoken out against missionaries in Israel. “Manna from Heaven Ministries”, where Gimpel spoke in 2006, describes itself as a “Messianic congregation”, but this again appears to be a congregation of Judaizing Christians rather than a community of Jews who accept Jesus as the Messiah.

Apocalyptically-minded Christian Zionists are indeed known for their Taliban-like hostility to the existence of the Dome of the Rock; Billye Brim, a Regional Director for Christians United for Israel, was recorded in 2007 promising that “that Dome is coming down!”, and a mentally-disturbed follower of Herbert Armstrong made an attempt to burn down the adjacent Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969. Gimpel’s “joke” has led to calls for his disqualification.

Habayit Hayehudi is headed by Naftali Bennett; he and his party were recently profiled by the Daily Telegraph.

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