Beinstein column: Trump’s phony peace plan

Alex Beinstein
Alex Beinstein

Anyone familiar with the Orthodox Jewish community, especially the ultra-Orthodox community, will know Trump’s recent plan for peace in the Middle East is completely unworkable.

Number one, religious Jews believe Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel, not a city to be shared.

Number two, ever since the time of Judea and Samaria, religious Jews believe the land belongs exclusively to them. The notion of doubling the amount of land the Palestinians would receive in Judea and Samaria is also fantasy.

And lastly, the most religious Jews believe peace cannot happen until a messianic figure returns who will inspire the whole world to turn to G-d. Does anyone really think Trump is inspiring the masses to be less covetous, less sexually immoral, less greedy and more G-d fearing? Not even his most ardent supporters would make such a claim.

This dream of a religious Israel at peace with its neighbors is not born in hostility towards the Arabs, or Muslims, generally. Quite the opposite. Moses is the most quoted figure in the Quran. Islam was born in the same way Judaism was, as a complete rejection of idolatry. And Muslims share many of the same laws as Jews do concerning charity, the slaughtering of animals, sexual morality, and all the rest.

In fact, some scholars have pointed to this verse in the Quran suggesting the Prophet Muhammad demands that the Jews control the Holy Land. “O my people, enter the Holy Land which God has assigned for you, and do not turn back.” In the same way that the Muslims would never want to lose sovereignty over their religious sites, Mecca and Medina, the Jews feel the same way about their sites in Israel.

But until a messianic figure arrives who can deliver a genuine peace, many ultra-Orthodox Jews believe Jerusalem should belong to Muslims as punishment for Jews not observing the Torah.

As a small example, many in the ultra-Orthodox community would point out that neither Benjamin Netanyahu nor the other Israeli prime ministers grew a long beard as the Bible commands. Why, if even Israel’s leaders will not follow the Torah, should Jews be given Israel when they are acting in such a rebellion against its laws?

According to this logic, only when Jews truly turn back to G-d, will they be given the Temple Mount (a contested site in Jerusalem) and be allowed to build the much anticipated Third Temple. And of course many evangelical Christians pray for the same event just as fervently, pointing to the Book of Daniel as evidence that the building of a Third Temple is a prerequisite for the return of Jesus Christ.

These views aren’t given much public currency, but they are what drives the real politics of Israel. So when leading figures of both America and Israel ignore these concerns, nothing can be expected to change. And it’s sad. A whole region, a whole world, desperately awaits peace. As the scriptures say, “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.”

Alex Beinstein is a millennial who grew up in Aspen, lived in Carbondale for a while and now writes from Washington, D.C. His column appears monthly in the Post Independent.

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