Jerusalem is described in the biblical Book of Zechariah as “ a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples” (12:2). The book is a Millennial prophecy about events now and in the future.
When people are drunk, they don’t think straight. And we see that happening now, following President Trump’s announced intention to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, thereby recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab state. It was not the capital under the Ottomans, who ruled over the city for four centuries. When East Jerusalem was a part of the Kingdom of Jordan, it was not the capital. The US will be moving its embassy to West Jerusalem, which is the Jewish part of the city, not East Jerusalem, where the Muslim population lives. One third of the city’s people are Muslim.
It should also be noted that Jerusalem has not been of historic importance to the Palestinians, Arabs or Muslims. Only in recent years has it been turned into a political football in the never-ending negotiations known as the “peace process.”
It was Yasser Arafat’s uncle, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who claimed that the Muslim prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven from the Dome of the Rock. He also declared the Rock sacred, as the site where Abraham went to sacrifice Ishmael (not Isaac). The intent behind these declarations was to stop the growing Jewish community from taking control of the city.
However, facts will not be allowed to interfere with anything from riots to war. Any excuse to focus attention on the Palestinians and against Israel, supposedly the occupying power and supporters of apartheid.
“Peace talks” have gotten nowhere. By recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Mr. Trump may be trying to force the Palestinians into real peace talks, which will require compromise on both sides. Fear of losing Jerusalem may provoke them into concessions, though this is not likely historically. As Abba Eban, former Israeli diplomat and politician, said of Yasser Arafat: “he never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” There’s no sign of this changing.
So, what might be the next step? War?
Undoubtedly, there will be trouble on the West Bank and in Gaza. A “day of rage” has been called for Friday, the Muslim day of prayer. Some are calling for a new intifada, a popular uprising that will go on indefinitely, tying down Israeli troops for months or years to come.
Right now, Israel is faced with war on three fronts. Once the Syrian conflict is over, Hezbollah in Lebanon can turn its attention to Israel. The Gaza Strip and the West Bank could be another two fronts, making it very difficult for Israel to cope.
The following verse, Zachariah 12:3 says that Jerusalem will become “a very heavy stone for all peoples.” The marginal note in my NKJV Study Bible says on this verse: “ Jerusalem is compared to a heavy stone that brings injury to anyone who tries to remove it from its place.” Nobody could ever physically move Jerusalem, but its status can theoretically be changed, as President Trump has done. This verse may be saying that attempts to reverse the decision will only bring hurt to those advocating the change.
Israel Today asked the question this morning: “Is this a fulfillment of prophecy?”
One thing does seem likely following Mr. Trump’s decision. It is not likely that the US can continue to orchestrate peace talks now that the country has come out openly in favor of Israel. The EU may claim to be the new honest broker in the peace process, though the German News channel DW is showing a definite anti-Israel / pro-Palestinian slant in its news coverage of the announcement. (DW news is shown on many PBS channels across the United States. Times vary.)
The announcement made by President Trump is likely to be the most significant decision made by the new president in his first year in office.