The social and media world has exploded with reaction to President Trump’s announcement that the United States would (finally!) recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Many are lauding his courage to finally adopt the 1995 U.S. Congressional law to affirm Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. I, too, am happy that a major world power has recognized what has long been reality – that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of the Jewish state. This is akin to walking outside and pointing at a tree and saying it is, indeed, a tree.
Though I am glad the President is not punting this issue for another six months (as Clinton, Bush and Obama did), I do have concerns about the days ahead. For some, this is the answer to many prayers. Others feel this creates a bleak future for the Middle East peace process.
What is likely to follow is mostly speculative at this point. There are still a lot of details missing – both about the actual timing of the move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as well as many other policy changes (e.g. the 2015 Supreme Court case regarding US citizens born in Jerusalem, and what’s listed on their passport).
Many people also completely missed an incredibly important UN General Assembly resolution on December 1, 2017, just days before Trump’s announcement. It is striking to me that this would be pushed through with such unanimity just before the USA announcement. They are polar opposite decisions as the UN says “Israel has no ties to Jerusalem” and the US returning fire with “Yes she does!”
The coming months and years will be the proving ground for America’s true level of friendship towards Israel. Acknowledging Jerusalem as the capital is a very basic first step (though important). What is possibly being set into motion by this announcement could lead to much economic, political and social unrest in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, with some rioting already reported Judea and Samaria (aka the West Bank).
Having returned from Israel just this week, I was amazed at the increase of tourism during Nov/Dec over the past 3 years. It was easily recognizable this year. Most sites that are normally empty in early December were packed. True friends of Israel will continue to fly in and put their feet on the ground, even if a Third Intifada breaks out. True friends will continue to invest in supporting the Jewish state through economic, political, and prayerful activities.
Be assured, Jerusalem truly is the “red line” for most of the Arab “peace partners.” The coming days, months and years will judge President Trump’s timing and decision process on this issue, as will America’s continued resolve to stand with Israel.
This, I believe, is the world we will continue to live in for the foreseeable future. The international community is enraged by President Trump’s actions. You can read it all over the news with over-the-top headlines like “Trump Kills Chance for Peace in the Middle East.” Trump vs. the United Nations and Trump vs. the Global Political Status Quo is just in the first few rounds of the boxing match. It will be interesting to see his administration’s next steps.
So, if you’re celebrating, make sure to marry your joy with earnest prayer. Many of my close friends and their families will be on the front lines of this American decision. Their jobs and safety may suffer. We in the USA are far removed from the impact of our government’s decisions in the Middle East. While we pray for the peace of Jerusalem according to Psalm 122:6, let’s also remember verse 8, that prayer is needed “for the sake of our brothers and friends” as well.
And if you’re disconcerted, consider that this decision had to be made at some point. Since 1980 (when Israel declared Jerusalem her eternal capital) and 1995, there have always been excuses to avoid this issue. This was an inevitable and important recognition, and time will be the best judge. One thing is for sure: the current Middle East peace process has been a hopeless mess for over 15 years, and a new approach has been needed for a long time.
The need is high for God’s people to continue praying and to stay sensitive to our Biblical values of justice, truth, kindness and sacrificial love. Old habits and affections die very, very hard. Remember this fact in the days ahead, as we see the nations rage against Israel (and America). This is a very spiritual issue, dressed heavily in political clothing. Psalm 2:1-6 was true 3,000 years ago, and continues to be true today. Deny this if you desire, but you will be living in an imaginative La La Land.
Am Israel Chai!
President & CEO
Tags: Jerusalem • Middle East Peace • Pray for the peace of Jerusalem • President Trump • Psalm 122:6 • Psalm 2: 1-6 • The Nations Rage • U.S. Embassy Move to Jerusalem • UN General Assembly