Avrum Ehrlich
Jerusalem based theologian / social - civilisational analyst

President Trump, Jerusalem is your Test

President Trump, your arrival in Israel on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s liberation is a wonderful and auspicious time. Your promise to move the American embassy to Jerusalem was taken seriously by so many of us. Made as part and parcel of a clear sighted common sense and fare worldview in the same way you promised on the war against ISIS, tax reform and the stripping of burdensome regulations, all which will move your country forward and be good for the world. I believe you intend to give a great gift to the Jewish people and leave your mark on the eternal city by announcing the US embassy will be installed in our capital.

Keeping your promise to Jerusalem will serve as a unique and singular litmus test for you and your ability to continue to successfully lead. Failure to do so represents the start of a slippery slope.

Obstacles and pressure, temptation and intimidation to delay and postpone this decision lay ahead of you. Many of us who wish to see you succeed hope and pray you withstand them.

While your legacy is still not yet secure, on fulfilling your words to this city, you will be remembered by our people forever, as the Persian King Cyrus the Great, who gave the order to restore Israel’s second commonwealth in Jerusalem, is recounted with honor in our holy books and paid homage to by our people even till today, 2500 years later.

The words of Psalms 137 are so apt so I quote them in full:

1 By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
2 Upon the willows in the midst thereof we hanged up our harps.
3 Those who led us captive asked for words of song, in mirth our tormentors say ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion.’
4 How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a foreign land?
5 If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, my right hand shall forget her cunning.
6 My tongue shall cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I shall not remember thee;
if I shall not set Jerusalem above my chiefest joy.
7 Remember, O LORD, against the children of Adom, the day of Jerusalem;
who said: ‘Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof.’
8 O daughter of Babylon, that are robbed;
happy shall he be, to repay you as you have served us.
9 Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the rock.

These are not just poetic words romanticizing a dashed city … but part of a world view of poetic vindication and restoration of hope for Israel and for the whole world. It is a message you have championed.

President Trump if you forget Jerusalem on the jubilee of its liberation, so many people will be disappointed. You will lose credibility and will not be able to restore critical mass and faith in the veracity of your words. Your proverbial right hand shall wither and tongue cleave to your mouth. We hope you will be able to fulfill your obligation as soon as possible without delay and vindicate every word you have announced. Not doing so will burden your presidency and slow it down to a halt. Gift the jubilee of my altar, thus says the Lord, do not delay!

Many may interpret delay as cause for divine punishment. Others may see a delay as part of a sleuth of rash promises you made but couldn’t fulfill. You will get no profit from delay. In delay those who oppose you will continue to oppose but those who support you will slide away. You will not be forgiven by your constituents for neglecting promises to Jerusalem. The city’s iconic status will be your measure. The sociology of disappointment and solidarity is interpreted most skillfully by people of faith. While there may be difficulties ahead in fulfilling your promises, not making good on the singularity of Jerusalem will set into motion a narrative which foretells the failure of your presidency.

He who brings salvation unto kings and deliverance unto princes may he bless Donald J. Trump, the President of the United States and bring wisdom and understanding into his heart and into the hearts of all his counsellors to deal kindly and truly with Israel. Amen.

About the Author
Avrum Ehrlich is a Jerusalem-based theologian and social-civilizational analyst. He is a life member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University, and was a visiting fellow at its Department of Social and Political Studies and Cambridge Theological Seminary. He was a full professor of Judaic and inter-religious thought at China’s key research institute for inter-religious studies and social development at Shandong University, China. He has authored and edited volumes and articles spanning religion, comparative culture and identity. He held university positions and synagogue pulpits, lectured and delivered sermons in academic, community and public forums around the world. Professor Ehrlich practices full immersion engagement and experientialism in much of his scholarship and intellectual adventures. He currently holds reading rights at the Van Leer Institute for Social Sciences in Jerusalem.
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