in the Land
by Rusty Draper
Dedicated to the
Memory of the IDF Soldiers Fallen in Lebanon
While reading where Moses appointed twelve spies to "see the land, what it is and the people that dwell there," the thought came to me, "the lies of the spies have at last come true, there are giants in the land." As you know, ten of the spies came back and told everyone that the land was good but there were giants there. They accentuated the negative rather than the positive and saw themselves as grasshoppers and the inhabitants of the land as giants. They doomed the children of Israel to forty years of needless wandering in the desert. Sadly, many people thorough out the world are like those ten spies. They see themselves as grasshoppers and everything and everyone as giants standing in their way. Fear and compromise controls them and they spend their time piddling around in things unworthy of their life.
Interestingly enough, the exact opposite is true today of great numbers of people living in Israel. For there you find more visionaries and spiritual giants per square mile than perhaps anywhere else on earth, raising families and building lives right in the middle of a virtual war zone. They live and work in places like Gush Katif, Netzarim, Bet El and Hebron, surrounded on all sides by hostile forces and they thrive on it. There are no grasshoppers in these places, only giants.
One such man, who represents the spirit of these giants, is Gershon Salomon, the leader and founder of The Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faithful Movement. I was privileged to meet him on my first trip to Israel on my last night there. I will never forget the love and kindred spirit that we shared from the first moment. With tears in his eyes, he talked to me about what G-d is doing in Israel and how He is bringing His children back from all over the world to their homeland. And as I listened, I understood more than ever what Eretz Israel means to the Jewish people.
On my second trip to Israel, I was invited to join Gershon and hundreds of others at a park near what is known as Ammunition Hill to prepare to march in one of the Jerusalem Day parades. The occasion was the thirty-year anniversary of Israel's victory in the '67 War. I was somewhat nervous, as I had never marched in Jerusalem, much less carried an Israeli flag on my shoulder through the Arab Quarter. But this was one of those rare moments when you are caught up in something that G-d has ordained and there was no way out of it. So there I was, just fresh off the plane and already a Zionist radical. Down the street we went, two and three abreast, marching and singing and waving Israeli flags, surrounded by IDF soldiers. Our march, complete with bullhorns and a replica of a Trojan Horse, slowly made its way toward the Temple Mount.
I felt I should walk as near to Gershon as possible throughout the march and pray for him because he is crippled and walking for that extended period of time was difficult for him. It was a hot day without a cloud in the sky and the streets were rough and uneven in the Old City. Unfamiliar with the summer weather in Israel in June, I came unprepared with my arms exposed. I walked and watched, as the blood vessels under my skin erupted and formed little red spots that would later itch and burn like fire. But a little pain seemed a small price to pay to be part of such a tremendous moment in history. I felt honored to walk in the stead of countless men and women who have lived and died for Israel and would have given anything to do what I was doing that day. It was very exciting, and to give all of us something to really remember, Gershon marched us in front of the Orient House where the PLO has set up offices. There we burned several Palestinian flags in honor of all of the Israeli ones they've torched over the years.
Gershon has been fighting for Israel all his life. Even as a boy of eleven, during the War of Independence in 1948, the British arrested him for taking part in the struggle. However, the turning point in his life came during a battle in the Golan Heights against Syria in 1958, when he was ran over by one of his own tanks. Gravely wounded, he could do nothing except pray and hope that his comrades could evacuate him to a hospital. But the enemy kept advancing, having been instructed by their commanders to take no captives, to shoot the Israeli soldiers again. So at the age of 21, it appeared that he was going to die for Israel at the hands of the Syrians. As he watched them coming toward him to finish him off, suddenly they turned and ran the other way as though they were terribly frightened by something or someone. Later they would tell the U.N. observers that when they went to kill this wounded Israeli soldier, thousands of angels suddenly appeared all around him and fearing for their lives they fled. They said, "we can fight men, but we cannot fight angels." It was at this moment that Gershon heard the voice of G-d telling him that He was not through with him and that he was divinely called to consecrate his life to the work of the Temple Mount.
His mother rushed to the synagogue to ask the rabbi and the people to pray for his recovery. But after hearing the terrible news, the rabbi told her to come to the front before everyone. And for nine hours she prayed and Gershon's life was spared. After spending an entire year in the hospital recovering from his injuries, he later rejoined his Army unit and continued to fight for Israel. Out of thankfulness to G-d and as a testimony to the call on his life, he later climbed unassisted to the very top of the famous fortress Masada, where nine hundred and sixty Jewish giants died at their own hands rather than surrender to the tyranny of Rome.
Moshe Dayan, the Israeli defense minister in 1967 made a terrible mistake, following the Six Day War. Israel had captured the Temple Mount and the Moslems came to ask for permission to pray at their mosque one last time. Dayan, who had been told by the rabbis of that day that the Jews could not go up on the Temple Mount, decided to give the control of it back to the Arabs. This was done in hopes of quelling their hostilities toward Israel's victory in the war. Of course, that didn't work, as the Arabs immediately ban everyone but their own people from the Temple Mount and forbade any other faith to worship there. And that situation remains the same until this day. Virtually no Jews are allowed to go up on the Temple Mount. And if they do, they cannot take a prayer book or so much as stop and move their lips. This despicable situation has driven many like Gershon to labor long and hard to consecrating the Temple Mount to the name of G-d and to removing the Moslem shrines placed there as a sign of Islamic conquest over Jews and Christians.
Gershon talks of the miracles he sees in every blade of grass and every flower that grows in the land that G-d has given to this ancient people. In his mind, he sees the Temple rebuilt as a sign of G-d's redemption for the people and the Land of Israel and indeed, the whole world. He writes, "this year Sukkoth (the Feast of Tabernacles) will be celebrated from the 15th to the 23rd of October. The movement is planning to hold our special event on Monday, the 20th October. We will make a pilgrimage to the Temple Mount and the Old City. From the Temple Mount, area we will march in a special ceremony to the Brichat haShiloach (Pool of Siloam) which was dug by King Hezekiah to bring water into the city of David. Together with us will be the Kohanim (priests) and Levites with musical instruments which were reconstructed according to the models of those used in the Temple. At least one of the priests will wear priestly garments which have been prepared recently in Jerusalem. We will carry with us a seven-candle Menorah and vessels which were reconstructed according to the designs from the First and Second Temples. We will also bring with us the first corner stone for the Third Temple to the City of David and we will again try to lay it on the Temple Mount. "
L-rd willing, many from around the world will go to Israel in October during the Feast of Tabernacles, to join with men like Gershon and countless others who continue the daily battle for Eretz Israel. You are invited to come and rejoice with them but be warned, the lies of the spies have come true, there are giants in the land!
The writer is a Christian
Zionist, Heart of Calvary Ministries, Inc.