U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David M. Friedman, is an Orthodox Jew who has been working with President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is also an Orthodox Jew, on a peace plan to settle the 60+ years old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Before that, Mr. Friedman worked a long time for Donald Trump as his bankruptcy lawyer.
Friedman and Kushner have been saying for months that they are going to reveal their peace plan in a matter of days, and it hasn’t happened yet. Recently, there have been some leaks about its content. It rejects a two-state solution and mostly consists of Arab nations coughing up a bunch of money to help the Palestinians. That won’t get it.
Yesterday, Friedman spoke at an event in Jerusalem hosted by evangelical Christians. They were a large contingent that voted for Donald Trump in the presidential election in 2016. The event was the one-year celebration of President Trump’s declaration of moving the U.S. embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. That was supposed to be an element of an overall settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. So, it went against international norms. Friedman said in his speech, in the context of this conflict, “Israel has one secret weapon that not too many countries have. Israel is on the side of God.”
What! Has Friedman forgotten the Holocaust? The Jewish Bible has many promises about God protecting his chosen people Israel when they believe in him and keep his commandments. For example, King David concluded in one of his psalms, “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them” (Ps 34.7 NRSV). And God will be on the side of Israel when the nations’ militaries invade the land of Israel to annihilate the tiny nation at the end of the age. See my book, Warrior from Heaven. But what about now?
Moses declares in the Torah, “Five of you shall give chase to a hundred, and a hundred of you shall give chase to ten thousand; your enemies shall fall before you by the sword” (Leviticus 26.8). But that is in Moses’ declaration of “the blessing and cursing” in Leviticus 26 and likewise in Deuteronomy 28. It is part of the law code attached to God’s covenant that he made with the people of Israel to be his chosen nation as a witness about himself to the other nations of the world. Moses expounds about this in great length in these two texts. He says that if Israelites keep God’s commandments, they will be greatly blessed, but if they persist in disobeying God’s commandments, he will bring curses upon them. Reading about this latter part is most frightening. That is why we all should not only love God, but also have a healthy fear of Almighty God.
So, Moses, speaking in the past tense, predicts that Israel will have “abandoned God who made him, and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation. They made him jealous with strange gods. . . . You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you; you forgot the God who gave you birth. The LORD saw it, and was jealous; he spurred his sons and daughters. He said: I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end will be [cf. Hosea 5.15]; for they are a perverse generation, children in whom there is no faithfulness. They made me jealous with what is no god; provoked me with their idols. So I will make them jealous with what is no people, provoke them with a foolish nation” (Deuteronomy 32.15-16, 18-21). Christians have rightly believed this foolish nation is the church (cf. Matt. 21.43; 1 Peter 2.9)
Following the First and Second Jewish Revolts (66-70 and 132-135 CE), Romans threw Jews out of their land and abolished their nation. Thereafter, rabbis generally conceded that this history had to mean God was displeased with his chosen nation Israel.
Unfortunately, many Jews and others have concluded that this history of suffering of the Jewish people is evidence that there is no God. But if you believe the Bible, it is just the other way around. That is, comparing the Jews’ history of suffering with Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28, as part of the law code attached to the divine covenant, is strong evidence that the God of Israel really does exist.
Donald Trump has been doing several things supposedly beneficial to the State of Israel. But all of it is a detriment to Palestinians. Their main aspiration is to have their own nation just as Jews do. In barely more than two years as U.S. president, Trump has moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel; he has cut off aid to Palestinians; and he has recognized the Golan Heights as the property of Israel. The result of these things and more is that Palestinians have declared the U.S. as no longer the peace broker of this conflict. Furthermore, the Friedman-Kushner peace plan supposedly favors Israel annexing the Jewish settlements in the West Bank. That is against UN precepts and thus against international law. All of these Trumpian moves were opposed by U.S. allies, many of whom have involved themselves somewhat in the Middle East problems, such as Western European nations.
I believe Donald Trump is one of the worst things to happen to Israel. This viewpoint is exactly the opposite of what so many evangelical Christians think. I have been an evangelical all of my adult life. But I believe most evangelicals are deceived about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They are what is called Christian Zionists. So, it is not only Trump but these Christian Zionists who are not doing right about Israel, that is, being a blessing to Israel. Instead, they are worsening the disenfranchisement of Palestinians. You cannot go on forever like that without repercussions. Your sin will find you out.
Moses said in Torah, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19.18). Jesus quoted this in his Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5.44). Israel, mostly due to its leadership, has not been doing this to Palestinians. That’s why they are so angry at Israel. The world largely sides with Palestinians about this conflict and I believe rightly so. America is a lone wolf about it. President Trump favoring Israel at the expense of Palestinians is fueling the recent increase of anti-Semitism in the world.