The appointment of David Friedman to the post of America's Ambassador to Israel has pushed this issue to the forefront, an place where the Bible states it must be.
Welcome to the Bible in the News. This week Israel soared into the headlines as President Elect Donald Trump began to make good on some of his election promises.
While Christadelphians do not participate in politics, we are fascinated to see the finger of God at work in the nations, as the prophet Daniel clearly stated:
“…the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.” (Daniel 4:17)
God has chosen to raise Donald Trump to a position of power in America and the world. Bible students are quite excited by this prospect, not because of the man, but because of his stated policies with regard to the State of Israel.
In some of the ads leading up to the campaign Trump clearly stated his position:
Trump Campaign Statement on Israel
I love Israel, and honour and respect the Jewish faith and tradition. It is important that we have a president who feels the same way. For me, respect and reverence for Judaism is personal. My daughter Ivanka, and my son-in-law Jerad are raising their children in the Jewish faith, always reminding me of the important values and lesson we learn about leadership, resolve, and families in Jewish tradition. My administration will stand side by side with the Jewish people and Israel’s leaders to continue strengthening the bridges that connect, not only Jewish Americans and Israelis, but also all Americans an Israelis. Together we will stand up to the enemies like Iran, bent on destroying Israel and her people. Together we will make America and Israel safe again.
During his a speech at AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Donald Trump waxed bold and direct regarding his position on Israel:
I speak to you today as a life-long support and true friend of Israel.
I am a newcomer to politics, but not to backing the Jewish state.
I came here to speak to you about where I stand on the future of American relations with our strategic ally, our unbreakable friendship, and our cultural brother, the only democracy in the Middle East, the State of Israel.
He laid out several of his policies with regard the Nation of Israel. He was very politically incorrect, as his usual style normally is. He addressed the issue of Iran, but also the problematic relationship between Israel, the United States and the United Nations:
“The United States can be useful as a facilitator of negotiations, but no one should be telling Israel that it should be, and really that it must abide by some agreement made by others, thousands of miles away, that don’t even really know what is happening to Israel, to anything in the area. It is so preposterous; we are not going to let that happen…. When I am president, believe me, I will veto any attempt by the UN to impose its will on the Jewish state. It will be vetoed 100%.
During this speech Trump pointed out the track record of agreements that were imposed upon Israel in the past and his feelings on the reason for failure:
To make a great deal you need two willing participants. We know Israel is willing to deal. Israel has been trying to sit down at the negotiating table without preconditions for years. You had Camp David in 2000, where Prime Minister Barak an incredible offer, maybe even too generous, Arafat rejected it. In 2008 Prime Minister Olmert made an equally generous offer, the Palestinians Authority rejected it also. Then John Kerry tried to come up with a framework, and Abbas didn’t even respond. Not even to the Secretary of State of the United States of America. They didn’t even respond. When I become President, the days of treating Israel like a second class citizen will end on day one!
Now many have treated his speech as simply electioneering and grandstanding. But as Donald Trump has been building his cabinet, and announcing the key roles, he has been building a team that is capable of realizing his campaign promises.
Trumps Policy on Israel
Future American Ambassador to Israel David Friedman discusses his hand in Trump's policy on Israel
Where did Trump’s policy on Israel come from?
What has been most interesting this week has been the appointment by President Elect Trump of David Friedman, a 57 year old Orthodox Jew from New York, as the future Ambassador to Israel. He was a major contributor to the Trump policy on Israel as he stated in a meeting with an Israeli delegation when meeting for dinner with them:
… anything where there is jobs or national security, the economy, immigration, everything is vetted through a policy committee. With regard to Israel there really isn’t a policy committee. Our relationship is so strong, that on matters of Israel, he’s really given Jason and I full authority to speak on his behalf.
The one thing that I’m proudest about, to date, is the Republican platform as relates to the state of Israel. The Republican platform on Israel is the strongest platform with regard to Israel that either party has ever developed in the history of this country. The way this was developed was a partnership between the Orthodox, within the Jewish community, the Israel lovers within the Jewish community and the evangelical community.
So from this platform, I would invite people to compare 2016 to 2012, there is no longer any reference to a two-state solution, there is an affirmative statement that Israel is not an occupier with respect to Judea and Samaria. There is a commitment to recognize Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the Jewish people, undivided capital of the Jewish people, to move the embassy there.
When this platform was passed by the Republican platform committee, the Evangelical community, got up, not only did they get up and clap, but people were actually crying. That is how motivated, that is how happy they were. They for this was a day they would never see.
Trump commits to moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem
How true was this, well consider Trumps statement at his speech to AIPEC:
We will move the American Embassy to the Eternal Capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem…..
And we will send a clear signal that there is no daylight between America and our most reliable ally, the state of Israel.
The issue of the American Embassy in Jerusalem has been one that has been ducked by every President since 1995 as CNN reported:
The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 requires the US government to move the embassy to Jerusalem, but the move has been waived every six months since the law was passed. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all declined to relocate the embassy after being elected, citing national security.
According to the Times of Israel:
In the last days of the Reagan presidency, on January 18, 1989, US ambassador to Israel William Brown and Israel Lands Authority deputy director Moshe Gatt signed an agreement according to which a plot of land in Jerusalem would be leased from Israel to the US for 99 years, for $1 per year.
Vacant lot leased to America for its Embassy back in 1989
Last year when staying in Jerusalem at Beit Ben Yehuda Hostel on Ein Gedi Street, we walked by this plot of land many times. Our guide pointed it out to us as the future site of the American Embassy in Jerusalem. That doesn’t seem as remote an idea as it once did.
Putting Policy into Action
What is very interesting is David Friedman’s statement when he accepted Trump’s appointment of him:
“I am deeply honored and humbled by the confidence placed in me by President-elect Trump to represent the United States as its Ambassador to Israel. I intend to work tirelessly to strengthen the unbreakable bond between our two countries and advance the cause of peace within the region, and look forward to doing this from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”
So it would appear that the movement of America’s embassy to Jerusalem is one step closer to becoming a reality. It is the issue of Jerusalem that will cause the nations to come down to the land in the latter day, and bring God’s judgment upon them:
“For, behold, in those days, and in that time, When I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, And will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, And will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.” (Joel 3:1–2)
Zechariah also identifies Jerusalem as being the flashpoint:
“And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: All that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, Though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.” (Zechariah 12:3)
All nations who come against it will be destroyed. So when we see America, the most powerful nation in the world talking about legitimizing the Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it brings the issue to the forefront.
Judea and Samaria
David Friedman in Jerusalem
While discussing Trumps policy, Friedman made the statement:
I don’t know if you saw what Bibi said a couple of days ago, but the idea that the Palestinians would want to rid Judea and Samaria of Jews, (there are 400,000 Jews living in Judea and Samaria), to create a Judenrein state in the ancestral home of the Jewish people is something that, believe it or not, Hillary would endorse tomorrow. We will fight eternally to keep that from happening. This whole difference in relationship, is a conceptual difference. It is a partnership as I said, not a client state. Israel helps us as much as we help Israel. It is a strategic relationship, a tactical relationship, the intelligence sharing is essentially to keep America safe, not just to keep Israel safe.
Was this rhetoric? Well, the choice of David Friedman to a post, some are calling the most “sensitive diplomatic post in the word” has caused vibrations all over the world, not just because of Jerusalem but also because he has lent his support for the Settlements in Judea and Samaria. So again, it would appear that Trump is moving to activate on his campaign policy.
In the same meeting with Israel settlers cited earlier, Friedman had the following to say:
Right now there is, without going through all the math, 75% of Israel inside the Green-line is Jewish. There is 400,000 Jews living in Judah-Shamrom, there is another 400,000 Jews living in East Jerusalem. They are multiplying right now. Oddly enough the Arab birth rate has gone down, and a lot of Arabs are leaving. When they leave, nobody strikes their name from the voter rolls or the land rolls or anything else. The truth is if you ask 10 statisticians how many Arabs are living in the West Bank, they couldn’t give you the right answer, because nobody really knows. But the bottom line is, under most calculations, if you took the entire state of Israel from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean Sea, meaning you would annex all of Judea and Samaria into Israel, the Jewish population would still be about 65%. That is the conventional wisdom right now. So the idea that if Jews, somehow retain control over Judea and Samaria, it is no longer a Jewish state, is just not true. Those aren’t the numbers. Unfortunately, it is easy to confuse people with numbers. People trust statistics, and people accept it, but if you study the numbers you will see that the whole idea that we have to jettison Judea and Samaria to retain the Jewish characteristics of Israel is just not true….
So the very issue of Ezekiel, the mountains of Israel is one that is now forefront in the policy of America’s new president. 2017 indeed looks to be an exciting year as the finger of God moves amongst the nations bringing them ever closer to the return of the Messiah and the establishment of the Kingdom of God in Jerusalem.
For the Bible in the News, this has been Jonathan Bowen joining you.