Judge Jeanine Pirro, host of the FOX News program “Justice With Judge Jeanine,” is one confused Catholic. The Pope and the Vatican have, by no means, approved of President Donald Trump’s unilateral decision to declare Jerusalem the capitol of Israel, but Judge Jeanine has foolishly joined Trump’s right wing evangelical brigade in anointing him as a modern day King Cyrus, the Persian leader who conquered Babylon, freed the Jews from bondage and rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem around 550 B.C. or so.
There are so many obvious problems with this comparison it beggars belief. First of all, if Cyrus were alive today, he’d be an Iranian—the ancient kingdom of Persia lies within Iran’s modern day borders—and we know how The Donald feels about Iranians and their deals.
Secondly, the only people in bondage in Israel nowadays aren’t Jews, they’re Palestinians, not counting the 56 protesters killed by IDF snipers at the Gaza border fence on Monday, who’ve been set free to meet their maker. At the same time, just miles away, Princess Ivanka opened the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem as if the blood-soaked scene at Gaza wasn’t happening. How many more Palestinians does Trump plan on “freeing?”
Thirdly, when right-wing evangelicals claim biblical prophesy has been fulfilled by moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, they’re not just celebrating the forced creation of the Jewish state and the simultaneous expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians in the Nakba 70 years ago. They’re also referring to the “New Jerusalem” that in their eschatology, their end-times philosophy, literally descends from heaven to rest upon the ashes of the earthly Jerusalem in the Book of Revelations.
There will be no Jews allowed in the New Jerusalem. Gentiles, Muslims, Buddhists, agnostics and atheists will be similarly banned. Only Christians of the highest order will survive the tribulation and judgment, and these select few will live happily ever after in the New Jerusalem, which will be presided over by Jesus Christ himself.
Right-wing evangelicals imagine themselves populating this paradise and it’s the key to understanding their unconditional support for Israel, no matter how many atrocities IDF soldiers commit in the Occupied Territories, no matter how low the status of the Palestinian people sinks. It’s not for love of the Jews. Southern Baptist Pastor Robert Jeffress, who delivered the opening prayer at the dedication of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, believes Jews go to hell if they don’t convert to Christianity.
I’m not sure if such talk bothers Jewish people all that much, since they don’t actually believe in heaven or hell, but at any rate, Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu can’t afford to be too choosy when it comes to picking friends nowadays, since Israel’s aggressive expansion of settlements in the Occupied Territories during his reign have made it a near-pariah state worldwide.
Currently, Bibi counts his friends on one hand: the United States, the wahhabist head-chopping Saudi Arabian regime, casino-magnate Sheldon Adelson, and right-wing evangelicals.
In my view, which you are welcome to debate, this global condemnation of Israel is justified. What we’ve been witnessing is the slow-motion extermination of the Palestinian people, unfolding across seven decades of time, aided and abetted most prominently by the United States. The possibility of a two-state solution — one for Jews, one for Palestinians — fades with every new Israeli settlement, with every unarmed Palestinian shot down in cold blood with impunity. The IDF claims it has more than enough bullets to kill them all.
If Cyrus the Great were to return and conquer Babylon today, in order to to repeat his deeds from the 5th century BC, the first thing he’d arguably do is free the Palestinians and grant them equal footing with the Jews in Israel. Creating tolerance for divergent religious and cultural views was the hallmark of Cyrus’ greatness. He was, in essence, a multi-culturalist.
That, of course, is not the Cyrus Netanyahu and Jeffress have in mind when they compare Trump to the biblical Cyrus. For Netanyahu, the comparison comes more naturally, because Cyrus is a traditional hero of the Jewish people. By recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol, Trump is figuratively restoring the Temple Cyrus literally rebuilt.
Jeffress and other right-wing evangelicals liken Trump to Cyrus for an additional reason. The biblical King Cyrus was a non-believer, renowned for his debauchery as much as his fair-mindedness. As a writer for Vox notes, comparing Trump to Cyrus is a way for right-wing evangelicals to launder Trump’s non-existent religious credentials, in much the same way Trump laundered Russian mob money to create his real estate empire.
It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if Trump has taken to this comparison. If he didn’t understand the religious significance that Jerusalem holds to the Jewish, Christian and Islamic world before he moved the embassy, surely he must have some inkling of it now. He could use it to his advantage, take on the persona of the historical Cyrus, and impose a settlement that would be fair to Jews, Palestinians, Arabs and everyone else presently living within the state of Israel.
On the other hand, maybe the United States should stick to secular diplomacy. I’m reminded of a young man from Texas several years back by the name of Vernon Wayne Howell, a religious man with a predilection for pastor’s pre-pubescent daughters. Howell, a Seventh Day Adventist, traveled to the holy city of Jerusalem and was struck with a vision from God informing him that he, Vernon Wayne Howell, was the direct descendant of both King David and King Cyrus.
He chose the Hebrew name for the latter king and returned to the United States as David Koresh, convincing a small number of his Branch Davidian followers that his appetite for women under the legal age of consent, including their own daughters, was justified by Bible passages that reference “sinful messiahs” such as King Cyrus.
Koresh claimed to have unlocked, at long last, the true and total meaning of the Bible. He and 79 of his followers burned to death in their Waco, Texas, compound before he got the chance to let the rest of us in on the secret.
President Trump/Cyrus’s dalliances with porn stars and playmates are hardly Koresh-level transgressions, but he nevertheless faces a far more trying tribulation.
His opposition to the Iran nuclear deal and his unilateral decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem may have just been sops to his religious right base, but they have always been in conflict with another one of his campaign promises, extracting the United States from the quagmire of Middle East conflicts it has been embroiled in since 9/11. Now that he’s fulfilled those first two promises, the third is looking more doubtful than ever.
Israel began upping air strikes in Syria moments after Trump pulled out of the Iran deal last week, attempting to goad Iranian forces who are in the country legally under international law into counter-attacking. As the Palestinian Nakba demonstrations continue, we face the grim daily spectacle of unarmed demonstrators being picked off one-by-one by IDF snipers.
What is President Trump thinking, now that his good friend Bibi is re-igniting the war in Syria, just weeks after Trump announced he was pulling troops out? Does the White House really believe, as it has stated, that Iran is solely to blame for the Palestinians who are being picked off like so many flies in the Gaza, that Israel bears no responsibility, whatsoever? Does the president, who ran against regime change policies, now support regime change in Iran?
If so, that doesn’t sound like King Cyrus at all. In fact, it sounds much more like President George W. Bush, and we know how Trump feels about him.
David Koresh used to preach that the Old Testament and the New Testament meet in the Book of Revelation. Right-wing evangelicals, including members of Trump’s cabinet, share this interpretation of the Bible. That’s how they’ve arrived at the conclusion that Trump is King Cyrus.
It’s a shame he’s not. We could really use Cyrus the Great right now.