Recently the USA’s Embassy in Israel moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This led to massive protests from the Palestinians. Dozens were killed. Many more wounded.
What was the problem? West Jerusalem has always been Israeli territory since its independence in 1948. The USA did not move their embassy to the eastern part of Jerusalem, which is considered by many occupied area (occupied by Israel). So there is no real reason for Palestinians, Arabs and other countries to be so upset about this.
However, Jerusalem as a city is the centre of a lot of controversy, and the decision of the USA to move its embassy to Jerusalem was a symbolic one. That is also how it is perceived by the Palestinians. It is seen as a huge boost for Israel: the USA solidly support Israel. The Muslims claim Jerusalem as their holy city, some Christians claim Jerusalem as their holy city, and the Jews also claim Jerusalem as their holy city. The fact that so many Palestinians and Arabs protest now, even though West Jerusalem has always been Israeli territory (since 1948) and there is nothing wrong with this move from a legal perspective, shows that these protesters will never acknowledge (West) Jerusalem as Israeli territory. They will not be satisfied until Israel is being removed completely from Jerusalem, and preferably even wiped off the face of the earth. Therefore, the protests of many western countries against the move of the USA is naive. They say that this is not good for the peace process. But this peace process will never show any progress as long as none of those who claim Jerusalem as their holy city, is willing to give up that claim. As long as that doesn’t happen, it is best for Jerusalem, East and West together, that it is ‘occupied’ or rather governed by a government that is able to maintain justice and peace there. Keeping Jerusalem divided or keep it under international rule will not bring stability and peace. Those who do not ‘possess’ or ‘occupy’ Jerusalem, should come to the realisation that there is no expectation that they will be able to do so any time soon. As long as the international community keeps up the illusion that Jerusalem can be peacefully governed by three different religions, there will always be unrest and fighting about Jerusalem.
Jerusalem, the city of peace. Ironically, the city that bears the name Jerusalem, is the one city on this earth about which are the most wars being fought. This is not the city of peace about which the Bible speaks.
How should Christians see Jerusalem, and how to view this move of the USA?
In December we wrote about this in an article on this website. Many Christians give a special place in their heart to the city Jerusalem. They support Israel, they support the special status of Jerusalem. Are they right?
In our article we wrote about that from a Biblical perspective. We also concluded that it is sad to note that many of those Christians forget that Israel and Jerusalem are not a place of freedom for the Christians there. The organisation Voice of the Martyrs reports that many Christians in Israel are persecuted either by Muslims or by Jews.
Here is what we wrote:
“The Bible does speak about Israel. But not the little strip of land in the Middle East. The Bible speaks about the heavenly Canaan. Philippians 3:20 speaks about our citizenship, which is in heaven, from which we eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. All believers belong to Israel. All those who believe the promise, are children of Abraham (Romans 9:6-8) and belong to Israel. When we talk about the state Israel in the Middle East, we talk about something different. ‘For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter.’ (Romans 2:28-29). We expect the New Jerusalem which will come down from heaven. Not a restoration of the earthly city. The earthly Jerusalem is even called Sodom and Egypt, in Revelation 11:8. There is no reason for Christians to support Israel, other than that it is a democratic country.
It is sad to say that for Christians even Israel is not so democratic. Voice of the Martyrs reports:
Tension exists between differing religious and ethnic groups, though most persecution against Christians comes from radical Muslims. Societal attitudes toward missionary activity (especially aimed at Jews) is mainly negative, and Jewish activists have been known to spray anti-Christian slogans and graffiti on churches. Government policy supports the free practice of religion, but legal discrimination occurs against religious minorities. Christians in Gaza are often coerced to convert to Islam. Christian converts from Islam in the West Bank and Gaza are threatened by government authorities and extremist groups, while those in Israel often face persecution from family members.“