Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Jerusalem Declaration: Why I signed it

Dear Ilya-

I don’t know you, so it is hard for me to say where your question comes from. 

But I can tell you that I am concerned with the peace and the prosperity of Jerusalem and all of its inhabitants. Like many others I assumed that the United States held a key role as an honest broker in the Middle East. I am afraid that the President’s declaration signals the administration’s abdication of that role. 

We already know and agree that, for us as Jews, Jerusalem is Israel’s eternal capital. It will be and remain so whether or not anyone else recognizes this fact. The Jewish State can continue to exist without  claiming exclusive ownership of Jerusalem. The Jewish state existed and thrived for two decades before 1967. It was founded on the hard labor of generations of pioneers and the devotion to the Land of Israel of pious Jews inside and outside the holy land. Our devotion to the Holy Land and to the Holy City should not blind us to the rights and needs of others who are no less devoted to the city of Jerusalem and its holy places.    

Jerusalem’s status should not be reduced to a pawn in nationalist and exceptionalist rhetoric that appeals to the apocalyptic longings of Evangelical Christians or messianic Jews. Jews owe gratitude to the Muslim community for readmitting the Jews after centuries of banishment upheld under Roman Christian rule. We should be wary of the embrace of Israel by so-called Christian Zionists who ultimately hope for the conversion of the Jews to Christ and who want to precipitate the end of history, which as they envision it, entails the great war between Gog and Magog that is to be fought in the Land of Israel. As Jews our interests do not align with that scenario and those are not our friends who promote it in their incessant propaganda.

I don’t wish to be part of this new alliance between Jewish nationalism/messsianism and Christian Evangelical millenarian dispensationalism that thrives on Islamophobic rhetoric, is nourished by the delusion of having special access to God, and despises the wisdom of critical thinking and the prudence of diplomacy.

I will have no part in this. These are the reasons why I signed the declaration in question.

With best wishes-
Michael Zank

Monday, October 9, 2017

Jerusalem Covenant

Today a message arrived in my inbox, prompting me to sign the "Jerusalem Covenant," a document first published in 1992 and newly distributed by an outfit called Israel365, which describes itself as "promot(ing) the beauty and religious significance of Israel." Except, as in similarly oriented depictions of Jerusalem, the most obviously beautiful and doubtlessly religiously significant Dome of the Rock is obscured (edited out). Accident?