by Haim Dov Beliak, rabbi
My correspondence with Matti Dan and one of
his associates from Ateret Cohanim, which you will read in
this section, along with three scholars' commentaries, reveals
a world that is unfamiliar to most Jews -- indeed to most
of the world. Irving Moskowitz has given Ateret Cohanim $5.6
million from his Hawaiian Gardens, California bingo. (For
more on Ateret Cohanim's activities, please see http://www.stopmoskowitz.org/ateret.html.)
Our purpose in posting our correspondence with
Ateret Cohanim correspondence is to educate the public about
the attitudes and world view of these Jewish settler messianists.
Ateret Cohanim's world is a coded world of religious-fundamentalism,
so we include with the correspondence explanatory comment
from three scholars -- Dr. Richard Hecht of the University
of California at Santa Barbara, Dr. Aryeh Cohen of the University
of Judaism in Los Angeles, and attorney Thomas Nelson of Portland,
Oregon. And I try, in the brief introduction that follows,
to decipher the major elements of the apocalyptic code.
Increasingly, scholars view the alliance between
Jewish messianists and Christian apocalyptic believers as
an alarming phenomenon; they point with concern to the dangerous
implications of this radical ideology for Jerusalem and the
West Bank. Muslims perceive this militant Christian-Jewish
alliance as a threat to destroy Islam's holy sites.
Ateret Cohanim runs a yeshiva (religious school)
teaching the ancient priesthood craft to religious settlers,
many of them descendants of the priestly sub-tribe of Levi.
They are planning to re-build the Temple where the Dome of
the Rock and the Al Aksa Mosques now stand. Their "purity
curriculum" includes how to carry out animal sacrifices,
what is the proper priestly garb, and how to avoid walking
Christian Zionist cattle ranchers are helping
out by trying to breed a red heifer without a single white
hair to purify the priests so they can commence the sacrifices.
This purification will involve an Ateret Cohanim priest killing,
then burning this unfortunately special cow, together with
hyssop wood and daubing the resulting ash on the priests to
purify them, as specified in Numbers 19.
Ateret Cohanim believes that the "holy"
land grab it is carrying out with Moskowitz's help will speed
the coming of the messiah, and, by implication, the rebuilt
temple and the return to animal sacrifices. For 2000 years,
no form of Judaism has viewed sacrifices as necessary; prayer
is the accepted substitute. Ateret Cohanim is alone in its
quest to resume this primitive practice.
In our email exchange the Ateret Cohanim correspondent
claimed: "[L]ike others in this hate-filled world, you
[Haim Dov Beliak] are playing a part in stopping the Mashiach
[Messiah]. Why should he come if there is so much senseless
hatred [sinat hinam] within Am Yisrael [Jewish People.]"
In the commentaries, which you can reach via the link below,
Prof. Richard Hecht discusses what they mean by the coded
words "senseless hatred."
Disingenuously spouting 1920's Zionist slogans,
Ateret Cohanim purports to reunite "a land without people
to a people without a land" --never mind the inconvenient
presence of Muslims and Christians. I tried with partial success
to draw out the Ateret Cohanim correspondents about the evident
aim of their occupation of Palestinian properties -- blocking
Israeli-Palestinian peace. As you will see in the correspondence,
they repeatedly dodged the question: "Is Moskowitz buying
land to make a peace agreement with the Palestinians geographically
impossible? And do you agree with this strategy of not giving
the Palestinians a face-saving toe-hold in East Jerusalem?"
In a September 19, 1997 interview with the Jerusalem
Post, an Ateret Cohanim leader was not so coy about the buyouts
[A] physical presence, regardless of its size, is
all that seems to matter. Just look at Hebron, suggests
Yossi Baumol, the executive director of the Ateret Cohanim
Yeshiva in the Moslem Quarter, an organization that has
been at the forefront of Jewish purchases in east Jerusalem.
"If there are two or three Jewish families in an Arab
neighborhood, people are going to visit, it gives a sense
of security, it makes that street feel part of Israel. And
if, God forbid, the government wants to divide Jerusalem,
we can look at Hebron and see that a few Jewish families
are the ones who determined the border - not the army, not
Netanyahu, not Arafat."