Saturday, May 09, 2009

Herbert W. Armstrong, Teddy Kollek, and Liberty Bell Park

Herbert W. Armstrong wrote to the members and co-workers of the Worldwide Church of God, May 21, 1978:

"On July 4 there will be a big '4th of July Celebration' in Jerusalem, hosted jointly by the Mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek, and myself. The city of Philadelphia had an exact duplicate made of the Liberty Bell--crack and all--and gave it to the city of Jerusalem. In the spring of 1976--Passover time--the Mayor came to me privately, and asked my help in building an important downtown park in Jerusalem, to be named the 'Liberty Bell Park.' Through the AICF [Ambassador International Cultural Foundation], I was able to agree to supply the children's playground area, at the very opening of the park. The park is now completed, and Mayor Kollek has asked me to be present on July 4 for the opening and dedication of the Liberty Bell Park."

This is a picture I took in 1982 of "A Children's Playground" monument sponsored by Herbert W. Armstrong and the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation.

Liberty Bell Park, Jerusalem

Excerpt from "Inside Jerusalem," an article I wrote in 1996 for The National Messenger:

Teddy Kollek: Former mayor of Jerusalem. I just happened to be walking past a dinner theatre he was coming out of at the time, so I took advantage of the opportunity to say "Shabbat Shalom" (it was the Sabbath) and shake his hand. When I mentioned Herbert Armstrong, he said, "I have fond memories of the old man." (He isn't looking too young himself!). I saw him again when I was waiting with Aryeh Gallin in the lobby of the Laromme Hotel for some friends. (It's next to Jerusalem's Liberty Bell Park, where "The Children's Playground" was clearly designated as a gift from H.W.A and the A.I.C.F.--but not any more. When I first noticed this discrepancy years ago, I wrote a letter of inquiry to the WCG. but never received any reply).

I emailed Aaron Dean (Herbert W. Armstrong's personal assistant for years) Teddy Kollek's comments in August of 2000, and he responded and informed me:

"Is Teddy Kollek still alive? It would be good to see him again. He was a good friend. Mr. Tkach refused to maintain the park as contracted and I believe he wanted HWA's name out of there. Of course he abandoned his beliefs as well. Sad, but God is in control."

Politics in the Church of God Prevents Progress offers an update on the monument in Jerusalem's Liberty Bell Park:

[The Philadelphia Church of God] even know I've given them contacts in the Middle East, in Jerusalem, Jewish leaders, and that it was me whom God used to contact the mayor of Jerusalem to get the HWA monument repaired (in the Liberty Bell Park in Jerusalem), and then I forwarded the information to Flurry (who didn't even say thank you and wasn't even aware of its woeful neglect that I knew about from being over there so many times). I'll bet you didn't know that, did you?

I had written an open letter to the mayor of Jerusalem, Uri Lupolianski, that was published in The Jerusalem Post. His office contacted me to inquire about what groups or organizations I was referring to that would be interested in undertaking the financial responsibility for the monument's restoration and the rest is history.

Gerald Flurry wrote the Philadelphia Church of God members and co-workers in the July/Aug. 2001 Royal Vision magazine:

"In January 1997, the Philadelphia Foundation contacted the Jerusalem Foundation to inquire about the Herbert W. Armstrong Memorial Plaque that once rested in Liberty Bell Park. Several members had visited the park and were unable to locate the marker.

Alan Freeman of the Jerusalem Foundation informed us the park was being restored and the marker would be replaced upon completion.

In November 2000, after additional contacts, we were told that a new plaque would need to be produced. The Philadelphia Foundation agreed to provide the funds for the new plaque and to help support the maintenance and refurbishment of the Liberty Bell Park in the memory of Mr. Armstrong."

I'm very pleased that Herbert W. Armstrong's name has been restored to Jerusalem's Liberty Bell Park and that I was honored to have something to do with it. You can view how it appears today by clicking on the link below:

Liberty Bell Park Plaque

Now I encourage the Philadelphia Church of God (and others) to reach out to the cities of Judah and sponsor planting a forest or creating a park to honor Herbert W. Armstrong's memory and commemorate his close friendships with Israeli leaders. Mr. Armstrong said we should focus on Jerusalem. Why not?

David Ben-Ariel is a Christian-Zionist writer and author of Beyond Babylon: Europe's Rise and Fall. With a focus on the Middle East and Jerusalem, his analytical articles help others improve their understanding of that troubled region. Check out the Beyond Babylon blog.

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