All Eyes Are on Jerusalem
Who has not heard of Jerusalem? Who, but the most callous and violent among us does not long for peace? How perpetually ironic that the very name of this great city means peace? How very sad that peace has been as elusive as this city is old. Since Israel’s King David made Jerusalem the Capital of Israel during its glory years, it has been torn by civil strife among the twelve tribes of Israel, conquered and divided by the Babylonians, Ptolemaic Egyptians, Seleucid Greek Syrians, Romans, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottoman Turks, and British.
In today’s Israel, Jerusalem remains divided between east and west (Jerusalem). Temple Mount, the most holy Jewish site in the most holy city of the Promised Holy Land, remains under administrative control of a foreign nation, Jordan. The recent lone wolf attacks against innocent Jewish civilians by Palestinian Arabs living in East Jerusalem were ostensibly carried out to “prevent Jewish contamination” of the Temple Mount, incited by malicious rhetoric from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
According to the prophetic words of Scripture, the problematic position of Jerusalem among the great cities of the world would only become more precarious during the last days that lead to the end of this present age. Listen to the fateful words of the Prophet: “This message concerning the fate of Israel came from the Lord: ‘This message is from the Lord, who stretched out the heavens, laid the foundation of the earth, and formed the human spirit. I will make Jerusalem like an intoxicating drink that makes the nearby nations stagger when they send their armies to besiege Jerusalem and Judah. On that day I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock. All the nations will gather against it to try to move it, but they will only hurt themselves’” (Zechariah 12:1-3).
Seemingly, all it takes is for the Jews to once again return to their ancient homeland and dare to be a sovereign nation. For Jerusalem to be considered, let alone restored, as Israel’s eternal Capital makes many heads of governments and their constituents frustrated, even furious. Nations hostile to Israel and even elements (such as the Presbyterian Church) within neutral or friendly countries constantly harangue Israel with belligerent boycotts, sanctimonious sanctions, callous criticism for alleged disproportionate defense of its people against acts of terror, and threats of extermination that sound ominously familiar to Hitler’s Third Reich?
This, too, was predicted long ago: “O God, do not be silent! Do not be deaf. Do not be quiet, O God. Don’t you hear the uproar of your enemies? Don’t you see that your arrogant enemies are rising up? They devise crafty schemes against your people; they conspire against your precious ones. ‘Come,’ they say, ‘let us wipe out Israel as a nation. We will destroy the very memory of its existence’” (Psalms 83:1-4).
Hardly a day goes by without Israel and Jerusalem riveting the focus of global media attention. A constant stream of oratory, some for, but mostly against Israel flows from heads of state in the United States, Russia, Iran, Great Britain, France, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Spain, China, all Muslim countries, and other less involved nations; and from International Organizations like the United Nations and the European Union. Not only from executive and legislative divisions of national governments, but also judicial bodies such as the World Court and, just this past November, from the United States Supreme Court!
The entire population of Israel is less than many of the world’s major cities; yet, this tiny country and its capital, Jerusalem, has been thrust under the magnifying glass of world scrutiny like no other place on earth. The inordinate and disproportionate attention afforded to Israel and Jerusalem, relative to the size, population, and otherwise insignificant position of this country and city among the nations and cities of the world is indeed incredible.
How Can Just One Jewish Boy Create Such Controversy!
It is a remarkable story that led to the Supreme Court’s review of a case that ordinarily wouldn’t merit even a State or Federal District court’s attention. Let alone a dispute over citizenship, a passport, and diplomatic recognition over someone’s place of birth; when, in fact, there are hundreds of citizenship passport problems handled globally in any given year without any court action at all.
An article published on November 4, 2014 in USA Today begins with: “The Supreme Court was as divided over a 12-year old Jerusalem native’s passport Monday as Israelis and Palestinians are on the broader issues dividing the Middle East. Roughly half of the justices defended Congress’ declaration in 2002 that Americans born in Jerusalem should be able to have ‘Israel’ listed as the place of birth on their passports. The other half vehemently defended the State Department’s right to ignore that law and set foreign policy, including which countries to recognize. To label Jerusalem part of Israel when the matter is in dispute, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said, would be ‘asking the government to lie.’”
With such pressing domestic issues as abortion, the gay agenda, state’s rights, immigration, and other milestone judicial reviews and decisions, why on earth would the Supreme Court take time from their busy docket to review a quarrel over an Israeli passport? The passport in question belongs to a 12-year old Jewish boy named, Menachem Binjamin Zivotofsky born in Jerusalem. His parents, Ari and Naomi, want their son’s passport to show Israel, not Jerusalem, as his place of birth. To me, that seems like a most reasonable request. Passports show the nation of one’s birth or citizenship; for US passports also the state of one’s birth, but not city. Passports are needed to cross national borders, not city boundaries.
It’s clearly understood that this Jewish family has nothing against Jerusalem. I’m sure they love what they consider to be the Holy City of the Holy Land, and its Capital from ancient times. The problem is that with a Jerusalem passport instead of an Israel passport, young Menachem is not technically considered an Israeli Jew or a citizen of Israel. Rather, he is a citizen of Jerusalem. What precisely is it that causes division in all three branches of the United States Government over a birth certificate and passport?
To answer that, I’ll repeat the essence of the conflict as summarized in USA Today’s article: “To label Jerusalem part of Israel when the matter is in dispute….”
Say what? Why is Jerusalem disputed as part of Israel … as Israel’s Capital? More specifically, who or what entitles the United States State Department or the Supreme Court or any other country or even global institutions like the United Nations to determine whether any city of any country qualifies as its Capital? Isn’t that the inherent sovereign right of a nation … to choose its capital?
Jerusalem … A Capital City without a Country?
In my trip to Israel in 2006, I drove and walked the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, including a visit to the United States Embassy … even spoke briefly with one of the American embassy guards. Do you know which city I was in when I set foot on Embassy grounds? Hint … A country’s embassy is located in the host nation’s Capital. Is this a trick question? Regrettably, it is. Yes, the United States Embassy is in Tel Aviv. I say, regrettably, because Jerusalem was the headquarters (Capital) of the ancient kings of Israel, and the self-governing land (State) of Israel was given to the Jews by God, himself. That is reason enough.
But there’s also a modern-day affirmation when the United Nations voted in November, 1947 to grant statehood rights to Israel; then later recognized the sovereign State of Israel after her declaration of statehood on May 14, 1948. Even though east Jerusalem and the so-called West Bank was under Jordanian jurisdiction in 1948, all of Jerusalem was captured in the remarkable Six-Day War victory of Israel over the same nations that tried to annihilate Israel and the Jews in the brutal attack on Israel on May 15, 1948—the day after Israel became a nation.
Yet, virtually every nation on earth, including the United States, does not officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Rather, they have chosen Tel Aviv as the governmental command center. What if all the nations on earth (or just one of those countries) refused to recognize Washington D.C. as America’s Capital? Choosing, for example, New York City because the United Nations is headquartered there. What do you think our President and the State Department would do about that? Or Congress, or the Supreme Court?
But that’s exactly what our Executive Branch through the State Department has done with Jerusalem. They have refused to acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital; choosing instead by official state policy to consider Jerusalem as a city unto itself. A city that, for all practical purposes, belongs to the world; or at least to the world’s three main religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. A city that is still up for grabs (literally), with its destiny to be determined by … by who knows what. By another failed peace plan, by another war, by unilateral declaration from the Palestinians that Jerusalem belongs to them, by Israel’s (rightful) annexation of the Temple Mount and all of East Jerusalem?
Thus the State Department’s official policy as stated in the Foreign Affairs Manual is: “For a person born in Jerusalem, write JERUSALEM as the place of birth in the passport.”
Again, I must ask: Since when does the world family of nations (most practically represented by the United Nations) dictate to individual countries which city will be its Capital? Isn’t that the exclusive right of the nation itself? What if the United States decided that it would no longer recognize London as Great Britain’s Capital, but chooses Manchester instead? Or Marseille instead of Paris? St Petersburg instead of Moscow? Barcelona over Madrid? Most likely, those nations would immediately sever diplomatic relations with America.
Liberal Justice Elena Kagan belittled the 2002 Congressional declaration by calling it, “a very selective vanity-plate law,” suggesting that Congress would not have passed such a law if, for example, Palestinians born in Jerusalem wanted their passports to say, Palestine.
Why would a Supreme Court Justice, who paradoxically is Jewish, say such a thing? Because many, including some Jews (an US Supreme Court Justice at that) truly don’t understand the real issues in or the authentic history of Israel and the Middle East. Their politically correct world view and corresponding decisions apparently hinge on one urgency: Whatever it takes, don’t increase the tensions in the Middle East that already exists.
If anyone carefully examines the wars that Israel has fought since her national birth, the incidents of intifada terror that has killed and maimed thousands of Israelis, or just the daily stream of hate-filled verbiage from the mouths of Muslim leaders and much of the Palestinian people, they would realize that the level of tension really can’t get any higher. Meaning that when Muslim armies, terror groups, and lone wolf assassins decide it’s time to strike, that’s exactly what they do. They may cite a particular incident or problem, but it’s always just an excuse to do what they were going to do anyway. The balloon is always full of enough air to burst. The string is always tight enough to break.
Palestinian … What’s in a Name?
Technically, legally, and historically there is no such thing as a Palestinian … not really. Because there is no such thing as Palestine … nor the State of Palestine. The very name of the nation of Israel was changed to Palestine by an ancient Roman emperor who hated the Jews, and so named the land to mock the Jews with a name that sounded like and reminded them of an ancient enemy, the Philistines. From that time until 1948, Palestine has been nothing more than a region or territory all the time inhabited by at least a remnant of Jews, who subsequently outnumbered the Arabs in population. In fact, before 1964, if anyone used the label Palestinian, they were referring to the Jews (of Palestine)! Nor has there ever been a Palestinian language. Only Hebrew and Arabic.
Not until the 1960s did Arabs living in (occupying … as the Arabs are the real occupiers by virtue of Israel being a state) the West Bank or Gaza Strip begin calling themselves Palestinians. We can thank Yasser Arafat for that. Why? Although hundreds of thousands of Arabs applied for and were granted Israeli citizenship, even more Arabs refused under any circumstances to be a citizen of Israel in the ensuing years after Israel preserved her statehood freedom in the War of 1948. In order to differentiate themselves from their Arab brothers who became citizens, they decided to identify themselves as Palestinians. This was also a form of protest over the solemn fact that much of the regional territory called Palestine formerly divided and controlled by Jordan, Egypt, and Syria was now the sovereign state of Israel.
In fact Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who along with Chief Justice John Roberts and other conservatives on the bench appeared to side with Congress by scolding the State Department accusing them of trying to, “make nice with the Palestinians.”
But for the foreseeable future, Jerusalem remains a city unto itself, or a city-state in the eyes of the entire world. Much like Vatican City in Rome. Which begs another question: Other than the desire to appease Palestinians (those Arabs who live in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and parts of East Jerusalem and who are not Israeli citizens), is there another reason not to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s (eternal) Capital? The answer is found in my analogy to the Vatican.
The fundamental reason why the United States and nations of the world refuse to consider Jerusalem as part of Israel proper (its geographical borders) let alone its Capital, is because of the ancient and modern phenomenon of all three of the World’s major religions essentially laying claim to the City of David. That reason (excuse) is absolutely the height of irony and even hypocrisy. Why would I say such a thing? Because other than Muslim dictatorship countries, virtually every nation in the world operates on the fundamental premise of church and state separation. Many to ridiculous extremes … like what is happening in America today. A complete distortion of that concept, which isn’t even found in our constitution. But that’s another subject for another day.
The point is, as represented by the rift in our own country over the status of Jerusalem: Our very government which goes to sometimes absurd extremes to (normally by bowing to the definition of church-state separation that comes from our far left) maintain separation of church and state, has recognized Jerusalem as a city unto itself for RELIGIOUS reasons. This despite Israel’s seat of government in the Knesset and its Military in the Israeli Defense Force headquarters (much like our Pentagon in Washington D.C.), both located in JERUSALEM.
What the Supreme Court Justices and others who support the State Department’s view of Jerusalem don’t comprehend is that the Palestinian Arabs in Israel (for sake of argument and because that is how the world now perceives them, we can concede the appellation of Palestinian) do want peace, but not the kind of peace the world wants. They want a piece of Israel here, a piece there, until they have all of Israel; until are the Jews are gone—preferably in a permanent eternal sense (dead).
The Real Issues
Thus, the real dispute and tensions caused by that clash isn’t over who has how much land, or whether there should be a Palestinian State. In fact, the majority of Arabs who are Israeli citizens and even a good number of Palestinian Arabs in Judea/Samaria (West Bank) and Gaza prefer all the benefits of Israeli administration. It’s just that they don’t want the Jews! Go figure! Actually, it’s not that hard to figure out. Because it’s historically ingrained, genetically computed into the Arab psyche that one Jew on this earth is one too many. How sadly tragic. But that, too, is part of the Biblical record of animosity between Abraham’s Promised Son, Isaac, and his step-brother Ishmael, who God said would not be the promised heir to Abraham and, accordingly, whose descendants were not to inherit the land of Israel.
Getting back to Justice Elena Kagan, the US Today article went on to quote her: ‘Right now, Jerusalem is a tinderbox,’ Kagan said, referring to daily strife between Palestinians and Israelis over the Temple Mount. ‘History suggests that everything is a big deal with respect to the status of Jerusalem.’
That part, she got right … mostly. Jerusalem is a big deal, unlike any other city in the world. But when in our time was Jerusalem not a tinderbox? I can tell you with a great deal of historically factual evidence to back me up: NEVER has Jerusalem since Israel’s rebirth in 1948 not been a powder keg ready to explode. Regional wars and strife in areas like Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, Sudan, and other hot spots garner world headlines periodically, but not like Israel. ISIS is the new terror bully on the block and is a formidable threat to Christians, so-called moderate Muslims, but especially to Jews. Because the sworn objective (as quoted in a previous Eye of Prophecy article) of this self-proclaimed Islamic Caliphate is the utter destruction of Israel as they march through Iraq and Syria on their way to Jerusalem.
Where is all this leading? Fairly easy answer: To Armageddon. And Armageddon is only a short-time missile launch away from the Rapture of the Church, which can happen at any moment. The daily intensified efforts of the world’s nations to do something about Israel is an exact fulfillment of prophecy like never before. Jerusalem is, indeed, a heavy (stone) burden that even powerful nations like America have no real clue what to do about. If our leaders knew their Scripture, they would understand that God is the Creator of all things, of the entire earth. That he has the divine right to declare boundaries for the nations, to give a tiny portion of the earth to Israel as their everlasting possession—which is exactly what he had said and done.
World leaders need to fully grasp the fact that Arabs in nations surrounding Israel, nations that have thousands of times the land space of Israel—that these Arab countries have refused to accept Palestinians into their country, have refused to grant them citizenship, and, for the most part, have declined to help their fellow Arabs economically. That after the start of the 1948 War of Independence in which five Arab countries attacked Israel the day after it was reborn as a sovereign state, tens of thousands of Arabs living in Israel fled the country or moved into ghettos at the request, then demand of Arab leaders—not the Israelis. Israel begged Arabs to stay in Israel and work together as co-citizens of Israel.
Globally, most people including many Americans are under the totally mistaken impression that Israel is occupying (in the bad sense of the word) Palestinian territory instead of the other way around. They are erroneously told and believe the only solution is a Palestinian State in which Israel must return to pre-1967 Six Day War boundaries, which were established through an international truce (not a treaty as the Arabs didn’t want an agreement that would make anything permanent) in order for Israel to defend herself. Without those natural boundaries, Israel would be indefensible against a Palestinian and Muslim enemy who has sworn to drive them into the sea and eliminate Israel from the face of the earth.
There are formidable obstacles to a so-called two state solution proposed by the United States and other prominent nations at one time or another. Issues such as return of the so-called Palestinian refugees to a Palestinian State; Israel’s return to and relinquishing of vital strategic pre 1967 Six-Day War territorial lines that will make Israel vulnerable, even indefensible, such as the Golan Heights and Jordan Valley; release of more Palestinian prisoners; access to Temple Mount; and others.
But removal of one or more of these barriers will not solve the dilemma of a divided Jerusalem—which is the ULTIMATE PROBLEM.
Whose capital will it be? Will it remain as the non-capital Capital of Israel? Can one city be the capital of two nations? Can there be two Jerusalem’s? The Palestinians want all of what is currently considered East Jerusalem that includes Temple Mount. Understandably, the Jews cannot and will not allow their beloved Jerusalem to be forever divided; a Capital in what essentially could become a foreign nation. Or Temple Mount without a temple (which someday will be rebuilt). That would be unthinkable No, it’s more than that. It’s impossible!
Just three days ago I read an article from the online newspaper, Israel Hayom, which quoted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. I’m inserting his quote at this point in my article so you can match his words to the above paragraph in which I commented on Jerusalem’s future in the eyes of Israelis.
Said Netanyahu: “I heard there are some people willing to give Arabs a capital in Jerusalem. I heard some guy and some woman say that the Western Wall will remain in our hands. How will it remain in our hands? As an enclave in Arab territory? And how will we get there? In convoys of armored personnel carriers? By helicopter? We did not return to the Western Wall after 2000 years to get there on armored personnel carriers. The Western Wall will remain in our hands, and all of Jerusalem will remain in our hands always—united forever under Israeli sovereignty.”
THAT, says it all! Amen!
Along with the Prophet Isaiah, I and many others who believe in the true and living God; who have been or will be (hopefully many) redeemed by the sacrifice of God’s Messiah, boldly and passionately declare:
“Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch. The nations will see your righteousness. World leaders will be blinded by your glory….” (Isaiah 62: 1-2).
Will you, with me, be on guard and repeat with Isaiah: “O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls; they will pray day and night, continually. Take no rest, all you who pray to the Lord. Give the Lord no rest until he completes his work, until he makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth” (Isaiah 62:6-7).
Do we fully grasp what God has supernaturally begun to do with and for the miraculously restored nation of Israel and her eternal Capital, Jerusalem? What you are about to read next is happening and will continue to happen right before our contemporary, modern-day eyes:
“Go out through the gates! Prepare the highway for my people to return! Smooth out the road; pull out the boulders; raise a flag for all the nations to see. The Lord has sent this message to every land; ‘Tell the people of Israel, Look, your Savior is coming. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.’ They will be called ‘The Holy People’ and ‘The People Redeemed by the Lord.’ And Jerusalem will be known as ‘The Desirable Place’ and ‘The City No Longer Forsaken’” (Isaiah 62:10-12).
I have driven the modern highways of Israel. There are no boulders to avoid, the roads are smooth and fast. I have seen the flag of Israel all over the land; it flies in many embassies throughout the earth. Before the 20th century, there was no flag of Israel. I have read numerous Bible passages that promise that our Savior is coming (again). That all of Israel will be redeemed (Romans 9, 10, & 11) by that Savior. That Messiah will fight for Jerusalem and all of Judah.
“On that day the Lord will defend the people of Jerusalem; the weakest among them will be as mighty as King David! And the royal descendants will be like God, like the angel of the Lord who goes before them! For on that day I will begin to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem” (Zechariah 12:8-9).
Things to Ponder
This seemingly minor problem of a Jewish boy’s passport, which progressed all the way to the United States Supreme Court, demonstrates once again how current events are—one after the other—fulfilling Biblical prophecy in methodical detail. It is nothing short of astonishing. Bewildering, yes; but all part of God’s marvelous providential plan for the nations, especially for Israel and Jerusalem.
No matter what the official policy of our State Department has been, or the posture of any government in the world: Jerusalem IS the Capital of Israel. So resolved by God, so ratified by the leaders and people of the Sovereign State of Israel, so recognized by all those who trust the Bible as the inspired, inerrant, everlasting Word of God.
One day (soon) the Prince of Peace will rule and reign from that city. Because Jerusalem is and always will be the City of God.
What say you about Jerusalem?