Last week, in what might be one of Trump’s most reckless moves to date (although, his engagement with North Korea could be just as rash), he declared Jerusalem to be the capitol of Israel. At the same time, he indicated that he would be moving the United States’ embassy to Jerusalem.
It is a move which previous administrations knew would be dangerous, which is why none of them did so even if they wanted to do so. It was a move which the Pope, Middle Eastern Christians, and the world already told him not to do and have denounced him once he has done so.
Mike Pence has found out that he will not be welcomed in the Middle East, with the Coptic Patriarch, among others, refusing to meet with him. His so-called interest in protecting Middle Eastern Christians has been put into question. They seem Trump is making things worse for them, as Israel now does not feel it has to protect them or their interest to get support from the United States. Indeed, during Christmas time, when Christians should be thinking about the birth of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace (cf. Isa. 9:6), they now have to contend with the possibility of war and destruction interfering with their celebrations.
Trump claimed his decision would help bring peace into the region, but who could and would believe that? It is bound to cause chaos and escalate the violence, which events show, it has. The Pope, speaking after Trump’s decision, shows his concern that the cycle of violence would continue without stop; the Pope reiterated that only a negotiated solution and not one established by force could find the peace which is needed, which he prays, the leaders of the world work for in order to prevent a worsening situation in the Middle East:
In expressing sorrow for the clashes of the past few days that have left people dead, the Holy Father renews his appeal for wisdom and prudence and prays earnestly that leaders of Nations, in this moment of particular gravity, may do everything to avert a new spiral of violence, and may respond, with words and deeds, to the longing for peace, justice and security felt by the people of that suffering land. (Vatican Radio 12-10-2017)
It is not surprising that Trump has inspired a terrorist reaction against the United States in New York City, and we should probably expect more, both within the United States, and against our embassies throughout the world. The United States is not ready to defend all its embassies, especially those in regions where our actions have inspired ire, making it quite clear, Trump has just endangered the interests of the United States throughout the world.Trump, of course, is using the violence for his own agenda. Following the example of fascist leaders in the past, he is promoting a nationalist isolationism, using Muslims as his scapegoat to encourage the people of the United States to respond favorably to his authoritarian ideology. We must not let him control us, cause us to act in fear against our own better interests. We must not allow the United States to follow the path leads us to becoming a strong authoritarian regime which undermines the rights and privileges of the average citizen for the sake of national power and glory; we must not allow Trump to cause us to fear the other due to his own provocations of the other; we must not let him get us into war. We must resist.
Muslims are not the enemy. Certainly, some who have been radicalized are a threat, just as there are many internal threats coming from within which do not represent the whole of United States. If we react against all Muslims because of a few of them, we only encourage the rest of the Muslims to react to us in a similar fashion. We must realize that it is not our best interest to continue acting in arrogance against the rest of the world, acting surprised and malignant to them when they do not heed our desires. We only ferment the hate and violence which is to come; we are our own true enemy here, even as Rod Serling understood so long ago with his Twilight Zone episode, The Monsters are Due On Maple Street.
We can’t scapegoat our actions. We must realize that there are consequences for our behavior. When the President of the United States acts recklessly, we all suffer; when he act with applause and acclaim for his bad behavior, the situation becomes that much graver, bringing us that much closer to the reckoning which will likely shatter the world as we know it.
Terrorist attacks are never right nor good. And yet, we must realize, they often are the means by which the dispossessed of the world, ignored by the leaders of the world, react. It’s the only time we pay attention to them and that is what they want. As long as we continue to march on ignoring the causes of their anger and wrath, we will never find a resolution to the crisis which looms before us, and indeed, we will likely only make things worse as we double-down in our wrongful actions in the world.
Trump, declaring Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel, could be the match which lights the fuse of war. It is not clear whether or not this is what Trump wants. Certainly, men who have followed his authoritarian example in the past have wanted and used wars to increase their own authority and power in the state. It is quite possible that this is his purpose.
Pray that it is not too late. Trump says this is for peace. He is not bringing peace. “When people say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as travail comes upon a woman with child, and there will be no escape” (1 Thes. 5:3 RSV).
[Image= Southern Arial View of Temple Mount by Andrew Shiva / Wikipedia /]
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