Perils Of Seeking Biblical Basis For Jerusalem ‘Moves’ – OpEd


By Ben Joseph*

(UCA News) — The dangerous trend of some Western nations moving the Israeli capital to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv calls for an immediate solution to the vexed Palestine issue as it affects entire humanity.

The trend becomes dangerous as the nations involved are presented as Christian nations, and their move is shown as guided by a strange religious dogma, which is traced to Biblical apocalyptical millenarian prophecies.

Nations such as the US and Australia have already moved their embassies to Jerusalem and the UK is planning to follow suit. It is easy to trace the Christian roots of these nations and their moves could be linked with Christian religious thought, even if geo-political diplomatic compulsions force them to do what they do.

The US administration of Donald Trump moved the country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018.

Last month, British Prime Minister Liz Truss hinted at relocating her country’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem during a meeting with Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid on Sept 21.

Though Australia recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital along with the US in 2018, the current government in the country reversed the contentious decision on Oct 18.

While relocating their embassies to Jerusalem, Republican Trump, a known Evangelicalist, believed that it is a precondition that Jerusalem has to be under Jewish state control for the fulfillment of apocalyptical eschatological themes of the Book of Revelation.

Several versions of this so-called theological theory have made their way to the US and Europe since the 1810s. It got a shot in the arm with the increasing popularity of Evangelical Protestantism in the US.

As early as 1891, five years before Theodore Herzl’s call for an independent Jewish nation, the US Congress debated the “restoration of Palestine to the Jews.”

After 1948, this theory was developed into a political movement and the first thing it did was to change the demographic landscape of Israel and Jerusalem — the holy land to Jews, Christians and Muslims — forever.

Jerusalem has always been a prized possession. For the believers and for monarchs, no price seems too high to pay for possessing Jerusalem, which saw the ancient city captured and recaptured at least 20 times by empires, kingdoms, nations and by three of the world’s leading religions.

To reduce Jerusalem to mere Jewish is simply erroneous. Earlier, Jerusalem was once under the control of Persians, Hellenistic, and Romans. Then it came under Byzantine, Arab, Egyptian, Ottoman and British influence.

Jerusalem was once a thoroughly Christian city, marked by the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Greek Orthodox Church of St. John the Baptist, and the sixth-century Church of St. Mary, built by Emperor Justinian.

During the long period of Muslim rule over Jerusalem, the ancient city became a quintessential Muslim urban city, occupying the third position after Mecca and Medina in the Islamic world.

From the 1890s to 1918, the Jewish population in Palestine was around 8-9 percent. The surge took place in the 1920s to take the figure to 20 percent. When the state of Israel was established in 1948, Jews made up around 30 percent of the population.

Currently, Jews constitute 75 percent of the total population, while Palestine Arabs comprise 21 percent.

Once the demographic landscape of Palestine was successfully undertaken with the tacit support from western Christian nations and Arab Islamic countries (save Iran), then came the strange Biblical belief that to facilitate apocalyptical millenarian prophecies, Jerusalem had to be under the control of a Jewish state.

Trump fell for this religious theory when he moved the capital of Israel to Jerusalem despite warnings from his own national security team, including secretaries of state and defense.

“We moved the capital of Israel to Jerusalem. That’s for the evangelicals,” Trump said at a campaign in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in August 2020. “You know, it’s amazing with that: the evangelicals are more excited about that than Jewish people.”

Next in line to fall victim to this strange doctrine is going to be Truss.

Currently, peace has proved elusive in Jerusalem, as it is the nerve center of the longest-running conflict in the modern world with a lot of emotional attachments.

The conflict over Jerusalem is rooted in national, territorial, cultural, political, and religious factors. However, the current warring factions, Jews and Palestinian Arabs, including Christians, are united in seeking the same thing – land.

At the heart of the conflict in Jerusalem are two self-determination movements – the Jewish Zionist project and the Palestinian nationalist project.

The primary approach to solving the conflict has been the so-called “two-state solution” but the two sides are yet to arrive at a conclusion on how to make it work in practice, as they claim Jerusalem as their capital city.

Since the two-state solution has failed to deliver results, an alternative one-state solution has been mooted.

This is possible since both communities have centuries of experience in sharing the land and living together under Jewish stewardship and ‘pagan’ patronage.

Under this, a unified Israel or big Palestine can be worked out if both sides bury their hatchets.

However, attributing a Biblical basis for political moves not only denigrates the religion but also further divides communities with hate and violence, making innocent people victims.

*The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.

UCA News

The Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News, UCAN) is the leading independent Catholic news source in Asia. A network of journalists and editors that spans East, South and Southeast Asia, UCA News has for four decades aimed to provide the most accurate and up-to-date news, feature, commentary and analysis, and multimedia content on social, political and religious developments that relate or are of interest to the Catholic Church in Asia.

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