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January 1999 
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MER - Washington - 1 January 1998:

For those terribly concerned about what likely lies ahead -- and we all should be -- it's also very important to remember just how we got to today's predicaments. This shocking historical revelation a few days ago from Israel's leading newspaper, Haaretz, and the AP: JERUSALEM (AP) by Hilary Appelman (31 December 1997) - Hours afterIsraeli soldiers captured Jerusalem's Old City in 1967, the army's chief rabbi urged that the gold-topped Dome of the Rock mosque be blown up, according to a newspaper report Wednesday.

The landmark mosque is atop the Temple Mount - last remnant of theancient Jewish temples and a flash point for conflicts between Jews and Muslims. Arabs have long been suspicious that Jews want to destroy the mosque, a move that would inflame the Muslim world.

Rabbi Shlomo Goren's remarks were quoted in an interview that retiredMaj. Gen. Uzi Narkiss gave to the Haaretz newspaper in May. Narkiss stipulated that nothing be published until everyone involved in the discussion had died, Haaretz said.

Narkiss, who led Israel's capture of Jerusalem's Old City, died Dec. 17. Goren died in 1994.

According to Haaretz, Goren made his remarks a few hours after theTemple Mount - known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, or "Noble Sanctuary," fell into Israel's hands on June 7, 1967.

"The paratroopers wandered around the plaza as if in a dream," Narkisswas quoted as saying. "Rabbi Shlomo Goren was among them. I was alone for a moment, lost in thought, when Rabbi Goren approached me. 'Uzi,' Rabbi Goren said to me. 'Now is the time to put 100 kilograms of explosives into the Mosque of Omar so that we may rid ourselves of it once and for all.'

"I said to him, 'Rabbi, enough.'

"He said, 'Uzi, you will go down in history if you do this.'

"I answered, 'My name will already be written in the history books ofJerusalem.'

"But Goren persisted. 'You don't grasp what tremendous significance this would have. This is an opportunity that can be taken advantage of now, at this moment. Tomorrow it will be too late.'

"I said 'Rabbi, if you don't stop, I'll take you to jail.'

"Thus the discussion, which only lasted a few minutes, came to an end.Rabbi Goren turned and walked away in silence."

Goren's former aide, Rabbi Menahem Hacohen, told Israel's Army radio on Wednesday that he was present for the discussion but it did not take place as recounted.

"The rabbi told Uzi that if, during the course of the war a bomb had fallen on the mosque and it would have - you know - disappeared - that would have been a good thing. Uzi said, 'I am glad that did not happen,'" Hacohen said.

Hacohen said Goren "did not suggest using explosives, and Uzi never told him not to do it. That was the whole conversation."

The radio also played a tape of a speech Goren made in 1967 to a military convention, in which Goren called it a "tragedy" that Israel had left the Temple Mount in control of the Muslims.

On the tape, Goren says:

"I told this to the defense minister (Moshe Dayan) and he said, 'Iunderstand what you are saying, but do you really think we should have blown up the mosque?' and I said, 'Certainly we should have blown it up.'

"It is a tragedy for generations that we did not do so. ... I myself would have gone up there and wiped it off the ground completely so that there was no trace that there was ever a Mosque of Omar there."

The Temple Mount compound, site of the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsamosques, is Islam's third-holiest site. Two Israelis were detained last week for allegedly plotting to throw a pig's head into the compound.



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