Amid all the pre-election arguing over diplomatic, security and economic issues, the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem made a brief appearance as a topic of fiery debate between two Israeli candidates.
The episode began when Israel's Channel 2 News in its Friday evening coverage of the election aired a video showing a member of the right-wing Jewish Home party purportedly stating that it "would be incredible" if the Dome of the Rock were to be blown up and a Jewish Temple rebuilt in its place.
The remark was made by American-born Jeremy Gimpel, who places number 14 on Jewish Home's party list, and therefore has a very real shot at becoming a Knesset member.
The way Channel 2 edited the clip made it sound as though Gimpel was calling for someone to blow up the Muslim structure. But the full statement, which Gimpel delivered to a group of Christian Zionists in 2011, was as follows:
"Imagine today if the golden dome, I'm being recorded so I can't say blown up, but let's say it was blown up, right, and we laid the cornerstone of the temple in Jerusalem. Can you imagine what would be. None of you would be here. You would be going to Israel. It would be incredible."
To further put Gimpel's words in context, he had just finished quoting from a passage in the Book of Ezra that deals with Israel's rebuilding of the Temple following the nation's exile in Babylon and Persia.
None of that mattered to Tzipi Livni, head of the new left-wing party The Movement, who immediately demanded Gimpel be disqualified from the election. Livni also used Gimpel's remarks to attack Jewish Home as a party of fanatics.
"The strange list that [Jewish Home] is taking to the Knesset seeks to inflame the Middle East and to bring on a third World War with its crazy visions of building a temple," Livni said.
Livni later displayed overt hostility in a media appearance with Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett.
Gimpel later defended himself by calling his earlier remarks a "parody of the fanatics that want to blow up the Temple Mount. Of course I am against this."
But Rabbi Chaim Richman of the Temple Institute wrote in an op-ed for the Times of Israel that Gimpel and other Jews longing for the day the Temple will be rebuilt shouldn't have to apologize.
"Isn’t it a shame that an observant, land-of-Israel-loving, enthusiastic candidate for Israel’s Knesset has to quickly explain that whatever reference he made to rebuilding the Holy Temple, was only a joke?" asked Rabbi Richman.
The rabbi went on to note the hypocrisy of Gimpel being harassed by the same leftist leaders who opposed the disqualification of Arab candidates Haneen Zoabi and Ahmed Tibi for their repeated and quite serious efforts to demonize the Jewish state and provide succor to its violent enemies.
Tibi in particular has spent years publicly praising Palestinian terrorists who mercilessly slaughter Jewish men, women and children.