The Politics of Religion
Vol: 28 Issue: 19 Saturday, November 19, 2016
There is an old saying to the effect that the two things a person should never do in polite company is start a discussion about religion or politics. We have discussed old sayings in the past. The reason they become old sayings is because they are so indisputably true.
The reason that it is true is because religious and political views are widely varied but tightly held. Disagreements are easily construed as attacks, and an attack your most deeply held convictions is an attack upon that which makes you ‘you’.
There is no place on earth where the truth of that adage is more clearly demonstrated than the holy city of Jerusalem, where religion and politics are inseparable. It is because of that intersection of religion and politics that Jerusalem is the most important city in the world.
It is the most important city in the world because the religions competing for political domination over the city are dependent upon possession of the city as part of their doctrine.
Judaism claims the site of the Temple Mount as the birthplace of their faith. The Temple Mount is upon Mount Moriah, the place where Abraham was prepared to sacrifice Isaac in obedience to God. It is the site of the threshing-floor purchased by King David from Ornan.
Ornan offered to give the property to King David as an offer of tribute, but David, inspired by God, refused to accept it as a gift and insisted on paying for it, to establish clear title to the property.
Thus, the validity of Israelite claim to the Temple Mount is verified by a three-thousand year old bill of sale.
“Then the angel of the LORD commanded Gad to say to David, that David should go up, and set up an altar unto the LORD in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite. . . And Ornan said unto David, Take it to thee, and let my lord the king do that which is good in his eyes: lo, I give thee the oxen also for burnt offerings, and the threshing instruments for wood, and the wheat for the meat offering; I give it all. And king David said to Ornan, Nay; but I will verily buy it for the full price: for I will not take that which is thine for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings without cost.” (1 Chronicles 21:18,23-24)
The Bible promises that God will restore the Jews to the Temple Mount and that He will restore the Temple to the Jews. Ezekiel Chapters 40-48 contain detailed instructions about the Third Temple, its dimensions, location, etc.
The city of Jerusalem is at the heart of the Jewish faith because the Temple Mount is in the heart of Jerusalem. The promise of a restored Third Temple is central to Jewish faith. It is through the Eastern Gate of the City at the entrance to the Temple Mount that the Jewish Messiah is expected to enter.
To surrender the Temple Mount is to deny the most basic tenets of Jewish faith and to deny the supremacy of their God.
On the other hand, the average Muslim believes that Jerusalem is the third-holiest site in Islam, after the mosques at Mecca and Medina. This status is a relatively recent one — in four centuries of Ottoman Muslim rule, Jerusalem was never elevated to even the status of a regional capital.
While the Bible mentions Jerusalem more than seven hundred times, the Koran doesn’t mention it even once. BUT — Jerusalem was once part of Dar al Islam, or the Zone of Islam. Because it was once under Muslim rule, Islam considers any change of ownership temporary.
It is the duty of every member of the world-wide Islamic umma or community, to recover lost “Islamic property” — the most important of which, for symbolic reasons, is Jerusalem. Every day that Jerusalem is in infidel hands is an insult to Allah.
In the Holy Land, religion dictates politics.
We discussed the Jerusalem Act in a past OL brief wherein the Israeli Attorney General issued an AG opinion that the Temple Mount is Israeli territory, so I won’t go into great detail here again on it.
But for clarity’s sake, the Jerusalem Act, passed by an unanimous Senate vote, instructed the State Department to move the US Embassay from Embassy Row in Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital at Jerusalem.
The Act was passed in 1995 and gives the president the authority to request a six month waiver. So every six months for the past three administrations, a White House designate makes the waiver request in the “interests of national security.”
In Jerusalem, former presidential candidate Mitt Romney made a campaign promise NOT to request a waiver, saying that his administration will actively work to implement the Jerusalem Act.
Romney emphatically endorsed Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a commitment no candidate for president has ever made to the Jewish state — and Romney made it from within the Jewish State.
At the same time that Romney was endorsing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the White House danced all around the question, “What is the capital of Israel?”
The administration tried to buy the Jewish vote by releasing a $70 million aid package he had previously held up, which angered the Arab world almost as much as Romney’s pledge to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
And so, once again, the eyes of the world are on Jerusalem and its status as Israel’s capital. This dusty little city of less than a million people, suddenly thrust back upon the world stage, exactly as the Bible predicted, at precisely the period in history that the Bible predicted.
“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. 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 12:2-3)
What an amazing statement, given as it was from the perspective of a Babylonian captive some 520 years before Christ.
In Zechariah’s world, Jerusalem was a destroyed city, formerly under Babylonian occupation and now under occupation by the Persians in the second year of Darius.
There was little reason for Zechariah to be particularly optimistic for Jerusalem’s future as the most important city in the world. But he confidently predicted the effect it would have on every nation that attempted to take on the burden of its rule.
“. . . all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.”
In 1917 when the British government issued its Balfour Declaration designating Palestine as a “Jewish Homeland” Britain was the reigning world superpower of almost three hundred years’ duration.
In 1923, the British took back most of what was granted under the Balfour Declaration, including Jerusalem in favor of taking on the burden of administering the city directly under what was called the “British Mandate.”
By the time the British Mandate finally expired in 1948, Britain was in shambles, its economy destroyed and its global empire ‘cut in pieces’.
America has never been in greater peril, besieged by enemies from within and without. The flashpoint is Jerusalem.
Not exactly the wisest place to start a new fight over religion and politics.