Donald Trump (Image credit: Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
In the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, the word of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah was fulfilled. The Lord put it into the mind of King Cyrus to issue a proclamation throughout his entire kingdom and [to put it] in writing:
This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: “The Lord, the G-d of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and has appointed me to build Him a house at Jerusalem in Judah. Whoever is among His people, may his G-d be with him, and may he go to Jerusalem in Judah and build the house of the Lord, the G-d of Israel, the G-d who is in Jerusalem. Let every survivor, wherever he lives, be assisted by the men of that region with silver, gold, goods, and livestock, along with a freewill offering for the house of G-d in Jerusalem.”
The leading king of the world recognized the link between the Jewish people and it's promised land. Not all his advisors or subjects were happy with this decision, but he brushed them aside.
This was almost 2,500 years ago.
One hundred years ago, other G-d-fearing world leaders made a similar declaration. It has become known as the "Balfour Declaration," issued by the superpower of its time, Great Britain.
Again not all British politicians or public opinion were happy about it. In fact, leading the pack was Lord Montague, a Jewish viceroy of India who feared that Jewish nationalism would threaten the social position of assimilated Jews like himself. Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Kook, in England at the time, lobbied for the declaration. Montague lobbied against, but the decision was made by fundamentalist Christians who appreciated an idea that the Montagues never could.
After the declaration, Rabbi Kook wrote a letter to Lord Arthur Balfour, not simply thanking him for his support but congratulating him for the place he had won in Jewish history.
Seventy years ago another world leader wrestled with a similar decision. President Harry Truman was being pulled in two opposite directions on the question of recognition of the newly reborn Jewish country. His state and defense departments argued vehemently against. The British allies were anti-Zionist and actively helping the Arabs. Reform Judaism's establishment lobbied against, just as Montague had in Britain and for the same reasons.
A fundamentalist Christian, Truman went with his own understanding of what had to be done and he did it, despite the Reform anti-Zionist Jews and the pro-Arab anti-Semites in his administration.
Last week, another world leader, Donald Trump, walked in the same big shoes of those who made it into Jewish history.
He had to deal with the same naysayers in the defense and state departments and the same Jews, with new organization titles, who worked against his announcement finally recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the Jewish people.
Once again, the opponents are lining up in what is now classic order. This time perhaps the list is longer than in any other of the earlier showdowns. There is of course the state and defense departments, the oil/Arab lobby, the Arab/Muslim world, Russia, the EU, Turkey, and Iran. Can they ALL be wrong?
And of course our "peace partners" are outraged. The "Palestinian Authority" that we created is threatening. They insist there will be dire consequences for not agreeing that Jerusalem is and always was Arab, Muslim, and Palestinian - and definitely not Jewish.
And let us not forget the traditional Jewish apparent self-haters who are howling about how unwise and unjust this is: the Meretz party in Israel and the Reform movement in the US.
It seems that President Trump has just landed himself a place of honor in the very long memory of the Jewish people.
Let us hope that only glorious chapters will be added.
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