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An Open Letter to Indiegogo

Submitted by Robin Messing on Thu, 09/25/2014 - 7:33am

I am greatly concerned by the Temple Institute's use of Indiegogo to raise $100,000 to draw up architectural plans for the construction of the Third Temple on the Temple Mount.  As you probably know, it will be located on what Muslims call the Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary).  This is the third holiest site for Muslims around the world, and any attempt to build the Temple there will explode in violence.

I read with interest a story by Alice Speri in Vice News in which she quotes your spokesman as saying that the campaign complies with Indiegogo's terms of use, despite the fact that the TOU states that  "campaign owners are not permitted to create a campaign to raise funds for illegal activities, to cause harm to people or property, or to scam others."  The claim that the campaign complies with international law is questionable since the only country that clearly recognizes Israel's sovereignty over East Jerusalem is Israel.  But more importantly, plans to build the Temple will inevitably lead to bloodshed and perhaps even to World War III.

I believe your claim that the Temple Institute's  campaign complies with  Indiegogo's TOS indicates that you are not fully aware of how dangerous this project is.  I urge you to take the time to read an article I have written that discusses this issue in more detail.  The article also contains a suggestion of how to approach the problem of building a Third Temple without touching off bloodshed.  Needless to say, the way that Israel--and the Temple Institute is approaching the problem is the exact opposite of my proposed solution.

I am not asking you to shut down the Temple Institute's campaign completely.  Doing so would only allow the Temple Institute to claim they were victims of an anti-Semitic conspiracy against them.  There is a danger that this could create a Streisand effect that would gain them publicity and sympathy and ultimately, more money with which to build the Temple.  No, I do not ask you to do anything that would impinge upon the Temple Institute's right to use Indiegogo as a platform to raise money.

All I ask you to do is ensure that they keep their word and not use Indiegogo for fraudulent purposes.   Temple Institute Director, Rabbi Chaim Richman was interviewed by Haaretz at the start of the Indiegogo campaign.  Here is a key excerpt from the Haaretz article.

Richman said the Temple Institute is not gearing up for a violent confrontation with those who already have a holy site on the Temple Mount.


“It’s also important to note that we have no violent intentions,” he says. “There will be a Temple when we have the love of the world, when people from around the world support us and ask us to build the Temple. But in the meantime, money is necessary too. It’s the will that’s important. We’re a nonprofit organization.”

Anyone who follow the news knows that this project is unlikely to ever have the support, much less the love, of the world.  It is inconceivable that the world's 1.6 billion Muslims will endorse this project unless the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is peacefully resolved.  And even if it is peacefully resolved, it is still possible that they might not go along with it.  And unfortunately, there is no peaceful resolution in sight.

So what I propose is this.  Force Rabbi Richman to keep his word.  Allow him to use Indiegogo to raise funds, but keep the funds in an escrow account.  Keep the funds in that account and only release them AFTER the Temple Institute has received the blessings of the director of the Muslim waqf that oversees the Haram al-Sharif (currently  Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib).  If they receive the go-ahead from the Muslim world then money will flow into this project like a mighty river.  If they never receive permission then the only thing that will be flowing is blood.