May Whatever, 2020.
We’re now in May, or what I choose to simply note as March 3.0 given the COVID-19 blur and blend of days. I write this from the Middle East, sadly as we burn through a seemingly spectacular spring and then rush headlong into summer. The pandemic has forced us almost entirely indoors. The looming and scorching summer, for sure, will preclude any venturing beyond the comfort and care of air conditioning. More time for reflection, and Key Points.
In a couple of weeks we’ll mark the two year anniversary of the move of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. I realize and appreciate this was perceived as a great victory for many. The Israeli political and religious establishment certainly welcomed it. I suppose each sovereign country can choose the geography for designating its capital. And, for the Trump Administration, it was the fulfillment of a campaign promise and an enactment of a 90s law, requiring the move. A move that the Clinton and subsequent administrations simply did not act on. And for gleeful evangelicals, it was a dream, perhaps a vision, come true, with top cheerleaders almost outdoing King David’s dancing on his way to Jerusalem, albeit more appropriately attired. (2 Samuel 6:14-23).
The Palestinians symbolically perceived it as yet another heartbreak and betrayal. They likely saw it as continued implementation of a joint Israeli-American manifest destiny, a concept hard for them to comprehend given the expansion into land they hope to reclaim at some point. The tragic result was that some 50 Palestinians died. Of course, they shouldn’t have resorted to violence in their protests. There can never be any justification for violence. The tragedy I would like to understand, however, is how and why they felt so strongly about this announcement that their lives became meaningful only in terms of offering them up. Why do people have to die to give politicians their moral victories? And, for religious leaders of all the Abrahamic faiths, a question: How deeply does God care about real estate?
Maybe COVID-19 will keep folks indoors this year so that May 14 celebrations marking the two year anniversary of the move will be calm and low key.