1) I received a call (at the Palm Youth Hostel in Jerusalem where I lived and legally worked) from a friend in the United States that "KP" sent him a copy of a letter he reportedly also sent to the Israeli authorities, claiming I was involved in some plot to blow up the mosques to stop the peace process and prepare the way for the Temple; was involved in arms smuggling (distorting my travels through the war-zone of Yugoslavia by train from Germany and visit to South Africa and Zimbabwe, as well as other adventures - thanks to a gracious inheritance from my Hoover grandparents) and that I wasn't Jewish. I told my friend the Israeli police would recognize "KP" was a crackpot and would dismiss his bizarre letter. I wasn't worried about it. (The Toledo-area police and FBI, as well as former members of the Worldwide Church of God who know the individual, were already aware he is disturbed and insanely jealous).
2) Coincidentally, I had an article published in the Traveller newspaper in Jerusalem that included statements of faith the mosques had to go and the Third Temple would be built, consecrated as a House of Prayer for all nations - beliefs shared by millions of Jews and Christians worldwide. I also warned Jews of German-Vatican efforts to undermine Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and how they would wage a New Crusade under the guise of peace (which I continue to do to this day). This appears to have thrown fuel on the fires of suspicion the Israeli police had - having been ignited by an inflammatory letter of lies - who were sent on a wild-goose chase by their bitter source.
3) The only time I enjoyed steak in Jerusalem (always at an Argentinian restaurant) was when "Robert," a heroin-addicted, heavily tattooed Italian acquaintance from Sweden (who stayed at the same youth hostel as me outside the Damascus Gate) would have his brother send money ($500 usually) in my name to an Israeli bank for him (he supposedly had some trust fund and said his family was mafia and that he was a professional thief, able to enter expensive homes in Scandinavia to paint murals and then scope them out - and he actually did paint murals for some fashionable stores in Israel), since he lost or sold his passport, and would take me out to eat to show appreciation.
Ironically, "Robert" ended up in the same Russian Compound cell as me (since he had been praying with Muslims on the Temple Mount and they noticed he was drunk) and was later deported with Interpol allegedly awaiting him. He said his mother was Jewish but he hated most Jews and homosexuals but he liked me and one of his brothers was a homosexual. My boss at the youth hostel despised him and wondered how I could like him. An expert forger in our cell, a religious fellow from a rich family who produce cheese in Denmark, said "Bjorn's" descriptions of neighborhoods in Denmark were accurate and that he had seen him in one of the wealthy synagogues there. In hindsight, I can see how this unusual association could raise questions. Truth is stranger than fiction!
"You're coming with us"
"You're coming with us," is what the two undercover agents said as they walked into the hostel where I worked in Jerusalem, Thursday, Jan. 4, 1996 - the day after I told my American friend I wasn't worried. They said they wanted to question me about my visa. I told them they could question me there. I also commented how the office would be closed. They falsely assured my friends that they were only taking me for "an hour of questioning." Katherine, my bewildered co-worker, said she would take over for me.
Once we were outside, another man was waiting next to the car. I wasn't able to return until midnight, after six men finished interrogating me, six and a half hours later! They escorted me back with two Border Patrol Jeeps, one police van, and the car I was in - searched all my personal belongings and left with copies of the Traveller newspaper that contained an article I'd written about Jerusalem's stormy future ("Will Jerusalem Become An International City?").
Walking up the stairs to the police station, a police officer asked, "Why do you want to cause trouble?" I said, "That's what Ahab said to Elijah." He considered it for a second and said, "You're right."
Ironically, like the KGB, they questioned me extensively about my politico-religious beliefs in Jerusalem's Russian Compound. I said, "I thought this was about my visa," which I knew it wasn't since everything was in order. Further irony is that I had been there before with another writer from the Traveller for a story we were working on and later published about their activities, which they informed us were usually dealing with expired tourist visas!
I found it interesting how the police station was filled with beautiful pictures of the Temple Mount compound and said so, and the one police man offered me one of the pictures and I said it wasn't his to give. They all had their mini-tape recorders attached to their belts and know everything I said was true and consistent.
I had to sign the shocking statement: "I understand that the police suspect me of being involved in a conspiracy to damage the mosques." I wrote it out in English since I refused to sign anything in Hebrew.
I maintained the only explosives I'm involved with is the bombshell I've written, Beyond Babylon: Europe's Rise and Fall. I continually referred them to Beyond Babylon, stating that's where my beliefs are on public record, including its biblical call for the Israeli government - not any individual - to remove the mosques that occupy Judaism's holiest site: the Temple Mount. They asked, "What if someone thinks you mean they should do it?" "Then they're stupid," I said. I reminded them how Gershon Salomon and the Temple Mount Faithful have called for the Israeli government to exercise its historic obligation and biblical responsibility in this regard for years - without incident.
Another police officer asked, "Why do you want the Temple built?" I asked, "Isn't it the Temple Mount?" He appeared to have an epiphany.
They told me I was free to go, if I surrendered my American passport and report to them daily, or sit in jail, as they continued their investigation. What a choice! I surrendered my American passport. I did tell the GSS (Shabak/Shin Bet/Israel Security Agency - Israel's Secret Police too often like the former East German Stasi) that I was thankful for the opportunity to clear the air and answer any questions, but hoped when they discovered I'm completely innocent they wouldn't continue to treat me like a criminal, or they would condemn themselves.
"Can't you lay low?"
Mom said, "Can't you lay low?" - when I called her the next day in the United States to let her know what was happening. I told her it was a little late for that, even though my track record in Israel proves I wasn't involved in any alleged plot or attempting to stay off their radar screen with my published letters in the Jerusalem Post (Jerusalem Police Brutality on Tisha B'Av), active participation in Temple Mount Faithful demonstrations (in this Israeli newspaper picture, I'm the one closest to the wall holding the Israeli flag), published articles and letters in the Traveller and attempt to prayerfully read the Bible in peace upon the Temple Mount ("A House of Prayer For All Peoples?") after informing Police Minister Moshe Shahal of my goal and seeking his guarantee of my "freedom of access."
After such a harrowing experience, I contacted reporter Bill Hutman, to shed some light on what they were doing in the dark. After confirming my story with the police, his article appeared Monday, Jan. 8th, on the front page of the Jerusalem Post:
"GSS seeks to deport US citizen for plotting to blow up Al-Aksa Mosque".
It accurately reported I strongly denied the allegations, however "it's no secret that I feel the mosques must go. I've written a book [Beyond Babylon] about it. But I've always stated that is the government's responsibility, not mine."
It also noted I'm a Christian member of the Temple Mount Faithful seeking Israeli citizenship and that the police expressed concern about bringing me to trial, lacking hard evidence, and wanted to simply deport me instead. The Israeli police knew they didn't have a shred of evidence against me other than some hateful letter filled with false accusations that misled them.
When I dutifully reported to Jerusalem's police headquarters, Tuesday morning, Jan. 9th, a day before my 36th birthday, the obviously irritated police kept me and handed me a deportation order - which I refused to sign. I was shocked and hurt they would treat me that way and mentioned for their record, when asked, I considered it unjust.
After this the police took me back to where I lived - in handcuffs - to gather my belongings and threw me in jail! No charges, no arrest, detained in the rotting Russian Compound that former Israeli Supreme Court President Aharon Barak said should be torn down and acknowledged it had "terrible conditions" and pointed out a "considerable percentage" of those detained would never be indicted and others would be proven innocent... They are still innocent people. Many of them will be sent home... there is no separation here of those who are being interrogated and those who have already been indicted and should be moved...".
"The High Court of Justice yesterday rejected a petition by David Ben-Ariel against his imprisonment while awaiting expulsion, after the state said it was prepared to expel him immediately, thereby making further time in jail unnecessary."
The Jerusalem Post, Feb 1st, 1996.
Actually, (chairman of the Temple Mount Faithful ) Gershon Salomon's lawyer for me, Naftali Warzberger, filed the petition appealing to them after the Jerusalem Municipal Court refused to release me and the Supreme Court AGREED it wasn't necessary to have imprisoned me (further PROVING I wasn't dangerous or a threat - see "Still at large!") but since they were going to immediately deport me it was irrelevant. They did deport me after midnight, Friday, Feb. 2nd. They knew it was all politico-religious persecution, and that the wild allegations could NEVER be proven, so they lied and said I had an expired visa (parroted by former Jerusalem Consul General Edward Abington, Jr. to Ohio Representative Marcy Kaptur).
After leaving the courtroom, I lifted up my shackled hands to Israel's state emblem prominently displayed on the wall - a gold menorah in between two gold olive branches - and said to the policemen:
"I'm in these handcuffs, a political prisoner, only because my hope, prayer and dream is for Israel to fulfill what that symbol represents: the Temple and Israel's responsibility to become a light to all nations."
Israel sets date for 2005
When I attempted to return the same year of my unjust deportation (since "Deported" wasn't stamped in my passport) on the eve of Israeli elections, I was detained at the airport and refused entry. In 1997 I petitioned Senator Mike DeWine to inquire about a visa for me and he received an initial reply from Itzhak Oren, Minister for Congressional Affairs, March 7, 1997, that read, in part:
"It is our understanding that Mr. Ben-Ariel will not be granted a tourist visa at this time...The Ministry of the Interior...has made the decision not to grant the visa and does not offer any information behind their decision."
A subsequent letter dated February 26, 1998 from Mr. Oren stated:
"We have been informed that Mr. Ben-Ariel will not be eligible to be granted such a visa until 2005." (Israel sets date for 2005).
Due to personal business, family, friends and extensive travels in the United States of America the Beautiful, I haven't returned to Israel yet to visit the 8 kibbutzim I've served on as a volunteer over the years (due to my God-given love of the Jews), to visit friends and the grave of my Holocaust-survivor/kibbutz mother Miriam Weiss, to see the Holy Land of Israel again God knows I love so much, and especially the most holy site on Earth: the Temple Mount.
Will Israel right the wrong and permit my entry to the Jewish homeland I've visited twelve times since 1980 (as related in "From Toledo to Jerusalem") and let all troubles be in the past? I yearn to return to Zion, and b'ezrat HaShem (with the help of God), it will be "This year in Jerusalem!"