Why did President Donald Trump move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem last week?
Seventy years ago, on May 14, 1948, the modern state of Israel became a nation. The administration of President Harry Truman was one of the first to recognize the existence of the new Jewish state.
Why did Truman recognize Israel so quickly and why do we care about modern Israel, enough to bring the ire of the Muslim world down upon us? The answers are complex, but they reflect historic, religious, strategic and political American values.
Truman recognized Israel against the advice of his counselors. They warned him against the decision because they understood this action would anger the Arab world and would cause long-term trouble for the United States. They were right.
Had Franklin D. Roosevelt survived World War II, it is very likely he would not have recognized the State of Israel. Roosevelt’s primary concern was the political ramifications of such a recognition.
Truman, on the other hand, was a Baptist who was quite aware of the biblical importance of a resurrected Jewish state in the Holy Land. Like Presbyterian President Woodrow Wilson before him, he knew there needed to be a Jewish state before Christ would return. In a sense, both presidents felt they were doing God’s will and fulfilling biblical prophecy.
Truman also believed the Jews needed their own nation again after Hitler’s Holocaust in Europe had destroyed millions in the gas chambers and ovens of concentration camps scattered around Nazi-occupied Europe. “Never again!” was the cry that resonated with Truman and his Jewish friends.
A third reason for Truman’s decision was that having a Jewish nation as an American ally located on a strip of land that links Europe, Asia and Africa provided an important toehold on a piece of prime geopolitical real estate in case of future world wars.
But why did Trump make this decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem 70 years later? He even sent his Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his converted Jewish wife, Ivanka, to preside over the embassy opening.
The answer is partly based upon economics. Since the U.S. developed hydraulic fracturing (fracking), the U.S. has again become the world’s largest oil producing nation. In the words of Frank Verrastro of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, “We (the U.S.) are the largest oil and natural gas producers in the world.” We no longer are dependent on the Arabs for our industrial production. That fact has changed our perspectives in the Middle East.
The answer lies mainly with Trump’s political base. Many of the religious right believe deeply that U.S. support of Israel is what God wants the U.S. to do. They are looking forward to Christ’s return and see President Trump fulfilling prophecy, just like presidents Wilson and Truman did in their times.
If we help Israel, God will bless us, is their thinking. Trump is pleasing his political base in time for upcoming November elections. It’s Trump keeping his promise to “Make America Great Again.”
Trump is seen as a president who has been keeping his campaign promises. According to both spoken and written comments by Fox News host Jeanine Pirro on May 14: “(Trump) like King Cyrus before him, fulfilled the biblical prophecy of the gods worshipped by Jews, Christians and, yes, Muslims, that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish state and that the Jewish people finally deserve a righteous, free and sovereign Israel.”
While there are those who believe Trump is a loose cannon with his tweets and contradictory statements, his supporters see a remarkably consistent and honest president who continues to follow through with their concerns.
Trump has shown a certain political genius to which the secular liberal press and those who can’t stand him are blind to. Perspective becomes reality in the world of politics and for Trump’s supporters all the media hype and criticism are “fake news.” Trump is doing God’s will on earth.