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August 28, 2020 10:24 am

Exploring Titus, Trump and the Triumph of Israel

avatar by Josh Reinstein

Opinion

US President Donald Trump visits the Western Wall, in Jerusalem, Israel, May 22, 2017. Photo: Matty Stern / US Embassy in Tel Aviv.

Below is an excerpt from the book Titus, Trump and the Triumph of Israel; The Power of Faith Based Diplomacy, by Josh Reinstein (Gefen Publishing House). 

In 2004, when I started the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, I aimed to get more people — not just people who read the Bible — to start looking at Israel through a biblical lens in order to better understand the dynamics in the Middle East. More practically, my objective was to mobilize Christians’ growing concern for Israel by creating a framework for political action. This initiative gained momentum, resulting in a shift from spiritual support into worldwide political support.

While observing this recent change in the diplomatic landscape through interactions on my TV show, Israel Now News, and while speaking to various groups across the world, I realized that many issues needed to be clarified. The questions came from all sides. Many Christians didn’t understand the Jewish perspective. Some were confused about why many traditional Jews keenly collaborated with Christians on worthwhile projects, while Reform Jews, although proud of their Judaism, seemed to work more readily with Muslims than with evangelical Christians.

From another angle, Jews were observing the increasing wave of Christian kindness and enthusiasm to help Israel but were ignorant about the theological motivations behind it. Why, they wondered, are some churches the biggest supporters while others are virulently anti-Semitic, even divesting from Israel? Also, many Jews who supported Israel were not entirely aware of the powerful connection they felt toward the land. They innately comprehended it, aware that just three generations ago, most of their grandparents were religious and that without their ancestors’ allegiance to the Bible and their traditions, Judaism would not have survived. But they still needed to clarify their current relationship to the state within a modern context.

On a broader scale, people were puzzled by certain groups, whose ideology should have resulted in strong advocacy for Israel but who instead tried to condemn it. Why, for example, is much of the liberal media so biased against the most liberal country in the Middle East? Their views on a multitude of policies — from individual rights to gender equality to freedom of speech — seem to align with those of Israel, in contrast to the Arab regimes. Yet instead of seeing Israel as a model to promote freethinking and tolerance, that portion of the media relentlessly and irrationally blames Israel for any conflict, while remaining silent about the bloodshed endorsed by its Arab neighbors. Similarly, many university campuses, the centers for Western education and enlightenment, have become breeding grounds for bigotry — filled with angry students picketing, shouting, and protesting this tiny country that thrives amid third world chaos.

Another issue at the forefront of the confusion was the new wave of Christian concern for Israel, resulting in political support. How did this all come about? Most outside observers see only the results but miss what drives the actions. For example, many people know about anti-BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) legislation but don’t understand where it came from. And if such a large percentage of the Jews in America are liberal and don’t support President Donald Trump, why then is he so supportive of Israel?

President Trump’s recent decision to move the United States embassy to Jerusalem really threw people off. Since the time of its conception in Congress’s 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, the embassy move has been endorsed by Jewish organizations. But for more than two decades, it had been delayed by Republicans and Democrats alike. And when Trump decided to make the move, the ceremony in Israel was attended by seven hundred Christian leaders but only a handful of Jewish leaders. How did this become a Christian issue? people began asking me. Where were the heads of the major Jewish organizations?

But to me, being right in the middle of it all for years, the answers were clear. And it was apparent that their confusion could be resolved, once it was filtered through a biblical lens. I then realized the need to put it all together in a book, to connect the dots and clarify and answer some of these questions.

I am often reminded of the memorable scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark about the headpiece to the Staff of Ra, a bronze medallion created to reveal the precise site where the Ark of the Covenant was hidden. Without the perfect-size staff and complete headpiece, nobody could determine where exactly to dig. But once the headpiece was placed on the top of the staff in the map room, the sunlight shone through the headpiece and revealed the location. This analogy is one of many for perspective on Israel when it seems impossible for human beings, no matter how intelligent or in what position of power, to make sense of the Middle East.

The fact of the Jewish people coming back to live in Israel after thousands of years in exile is based on something far more meaningful than any Partition Plan, any arbitrary division of land, or any political decision that granted Jewish survivors of World War II a place of refuge. It is essentially tied to the Bible. And without this perspective, people inevitably miss the entire story and make terrible mistakes politically.

A plethora of books and articles about Israel approach the issues from either a political or a religious perspective. But few combine the two perspectives and look at the recent political events through a biblical lens. This book attempts to merge these two viewpoints by exploring the story of the Jewish people, from the time that the Roman emperor Titus destroyed Jerusalem until today, when President Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. It illustrates how if you just look at the situation from a different angle, all the previously misunderstood issues become clear, as does the path forward.

Josh Reinstein is the Director of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus and President of the Israel Allies Foundation. He is the author of Titus, Trump and the Triumph of Israel.

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