As the war in Gaza enters its third week amid mounting division and death tolls, the Temple Institute on Monday launched an unprecedented and controversial crowd-funding campaign to raise funds to construct a Third Temple on the Temple Mount.

In a statement sent from the international organization dedicated to educating Jews about the centrality of the Temple Mount to Jewish life and rebuilding a Third Temple, director Chaim Richman called upon Jews to unite in the effort to bring “true peace.”

“This is what will bring true peace, as the promised house of peace and prayer for all nations,” he said. “In these decisive times, when our nation is under constant threat and the peace we so fervently seek seems more elusive than ever, we believe with full conviction that the Temple will be rebuilt and that peace will prevail.”

Richman said that the Temple Institute’s campaign has been launched in tandem with the latest in a popular series of emotionally-charged, viral videos that “re-frame the message of the 9th of Av from one of mourning to building.”

“Today’s youth are already linking arms together and putting aside all differences, ready to rebuild,” he said. “It is the inspiration of the Holy Temple itself, with its promise of hope and peace that brings together all people in unity.”

Reached for comment about the Temple Institute’s undertaking, Meretz city councilman Dr. Meir Margalit, who heads the east Jerusalem portfolio, said the timing of the announcement was inappropriate, and dismissed the idea.

“This is the right moment to do this?” he asked rhetorically by phone Monday afternoon.

“It is a crazy idea that comes from crazy people. If God really wants a third Jewish temple, he will create it without our help.”

Margalit added that the proposal only stokes more flames in an already raging cauldron of religious acrimony and division within the capital.

“The problem is not what these crazy people say, it’s that a lot of people in Israel and Jerusalem support this kind of idea – even in the Knesset,” he said. “So, this is more proof that we are losing our minds in this country, and that the combination of religion and nationalistic ideology will bring us to a big explosion.”

Moreover, Margalit called those responsible for the initiative “the Jewish version of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

“We have many extremists in this city, and if we don’t stop them we will all collapse together,” he said.

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