Yaakov Katz, THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 25, 2005

Orly Benny-Davis has come a long way from her youth in Ramat Gan. Today a well-known US political activist, Benny-Davis ran for the senate last year in her home state of South Carolina. On Monday night, she was in Jerusalem to attend the 11th annual Temple Mount dinner and to help speed up the construction of the third temple.

Close to 1,000 right-wing religious activists converged on the Jerusalem International Convention Center to celebrate Tu Bishvat and listen to speakers on various topics – ranging from what the economy will be like in the time of the third temple to what type of government is ideal according to the Torah.

“The temple is part of our history,” Benny-Davis, who sponsored the festivities, told The Jerusalem Post. “When I argue with people who criticize us that we are occupying another nation, I explain to them that the land has been ours for thousands of years. Just look at the Temple Mount.”

The Jews, she says, deserve a temple just like the Christians and the Muslims.

“Look at what the Italians did in Rome with the Vatican and how much money they make,” Benny-Davis, who spent 15 years living in Italy, said. “The Muslims also have a temple, and we, who came back to our land 2,000 years later, don’t have one, which is needed to initiate the final return to Israel.”

Calling her 2004 bid for the senate “a battle for God,” Benny-Davis said she is in the process of lobbying congressmen to pass a resolution that would ensure Israel retains sovereignty over all of the holy sites, including the Temple Mount.

The point of the festive dinner, she said, is to get people excited about their Jewish heritage. “We need to get the ball rolling and to get people excited to make things change,” she said.

Prior to the festive dinner, the Temple Mount Faithful met in the foyer to look at the most recent temple artifacts Rabbi Menahem Makover, of the Temple Mount Institute in the Old City, has constructed.

Makover said his institute has already completed constructing all of the artifacts except for the altar, which needs to be physically constructed on the Mount.

How will the temple be rebuilt while the Muslim mosques are currently standing?

“No one knows how the temple will be built,” he said. “But that is not the main issue. What we are here to do is to inform people of the importance of the temple and to show them it is not a theoretical idea but is real and alive.”

Not everyone agrees with Makover that the way to rebuild the temple is not known.

“Maybe there will be a tsunami-like disaster similar to the one in Southeast Asia which killed hundreds of thousands of people,” said Baruch Ben-Yosef, a member of the Temple Mount Faithful. “The mosques will be moved to Mecca where they should be, and we will climb the Mount to build an altar and conduct sacrifices.”