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The temple mount, Jerusalem
Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is an anti-Christian Christmas gift for the Alt-right.

Donald Trump has announced that he will officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city in a speech later today. Trump’s rejection of decades old policy has already set off massive protests in Palestine in the Middle East. According to some sources, HAMAS is planning of a “day of rage.” The move threatens to set back any Middle East peace process by decades. It may entirely derail any hope for Middle East peace. The timing is not random. This is supposed to be a Christmas gift. 

Some Christian groups in the US have long sought the building of the Third Temple in Jerusalem, on the site of the Hebrews’ first and second temples and on part of which has long been situated the Al-Aqsa mosque. There are Jewish groups that advocate the rebuilding of the Temple. More disturbingly, there are Christian groups, especially in the U.S., that view the Temple’s rebuilding as a harbinger of the apocalypse and the long awaited and deeply desired second coming of Christ. International recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would make the reconstruction of the Temple much more feasible. What better Christmas gift than that?

Trump’s decision, likely born of the influence of current and former advisors such as Steve Bannon, aligns with Alt-right ideology’s strange and rather disrespectful view of mainstream Christianity. Alt-right ideology is supersessionist, but not in the usual way—in which Christians view themselves as having replaced Jews as God’s chosen people. Alt-right thought owes a great debt to early twentieth-century Italian thinker Julius Evola. Evola, whose thought influenced Mussolini and who has been described as a “prominent icon of fascist idealism,” argued that medieval knighthood represented a spiritual order that superseded devotional Christianity. In other words, endeavors like chasing the Holy Grail and engaging in mystical rites, as did the Knights Templar (who were headquartered on the Temple Mount during the Crusaders’ medieval occupation of Jerusalem), were holier and more spiritually important than the Church. That alt-right protestors showed up in Charlottesville carrying medieval-style shields is connected to Trump’s decision. Both events indicate the current White House’s attempts to trump Christian faith.

Everyone—Christians, Jews, Muslims, the secular, and those of other faith traditions alike—should beware Trump’s Christmas gift. This is the season for festivals of light. This policy decision masquerades as light when all who believe in the power of faith should recognize its darkness.

Cord J. Whitaker teaches and writes on medieval English literature and the history of race at Wellesley College. In addition to co-directing The Spoke, he blogs at In the Middle and, along with his students, at What Is Racial Difference?


Photo Credit: Dan Heringer, "Al-Aqsa Mosque, Temple Mount, Jerusalem," via Shutterstock, 6 December 2017.