Reflecting on the French election from Jerusalem

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Centrist Emmanuel Macron won yesterday’s presidential election in France, decisively defeating the far-right candidate, Marine Le Pen. His victory caps a tumultuous campaign in which, for the first time in history, no major party fielded a candidate who qualified for the runoff election. Macron will be France’s youngest president in history.

France is not the only country undergoing tumultuous change these days. Fueled by refugee crises, discontent with immigration, and slow economic growth, more and more Europeans are turning to new political leaders and parties.

Meanwhile, inspections have been ordered at every German army barracks after Nazi-era memorabilia was found at two of them. Yesterday, North Korea detained another American citizen as tensions between the two countries continue to escalate. Violence in Syria killed four people and wounded a child, despite efforts to de-escalate the conflict there.

By contrast, consider the miracle that is the Jewish people.

I am writing today from Jerusalem, which I consider the most amazing city on earth. Holy to three faiths that total more than half the world’s population, this city is a testament to the enduring resolve and relevance of the Jewish people.

Though Jews comprise less than 0.2 percent of the world’s population, they have received 22.4 percent of the world’s Nobel Prizes. Some of our greatest scientists, doctors, philosophers, and artists are Jewish. How different would the world be without Albert Einstein, to cite just one example?

They have been persecuted more than any single race in history. Israelis live in a tiny nation surrounded by enemies. How have their people been able to survive and thrive over the centuries? One answer is the tradition we observed on Saturday: the Sabbath (called the “Shabbat” here).

Jews in Israel have “Shabbat elevators” that stop automatically at every floor (so they are not required to work by pushing elevator buttons). Our breakfast included nothing that had to be prepared that morning. Dinner was not served until 8:45 p.m. (an hour after the Sabbath ended).

The Shabbat is just one way Jewish people around the world maintain their solidarity. Religious Jews observe the 613 laws of their tradition and the various holy days that comprise their calendar. Theirs is a cultural heritage and commitment that spans the centuries and creates a community of resilience and courage.

Of all the world’s faiths, Christians should manifest the greatest solidarity. We have a God for whom “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). The social and racial barriers of the ancient world were destroyed at the cross. Now we are all children of one Father, members of one family.

In addition, we all share in the same Holy Spirit: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). “You” is plural in the Greek, showing that we are individually and collectively the temple of the Lord as his Spirit inhabits us.

According to Jesus, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?