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December 6, 2017 6:37 pm

A Momentous Day: Jewish Leaders and Israel Advocates Respond to Trump Announcement on Jerusalem

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US President Donald Trump holds up the proclamation announcing US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque.

US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday brought forth an outburst of commentary and reaction from virtually all of the pro-Israel groups in America. By any standard, this was a momentous day for Jews in the US – and also, as our compilation of statements below shows, for Jewish communities elsewhere in the world as well. In that spirit, here are excerpts from the numerous emails we’ve been receiving at The Algemeiner throughout the day, mainly from US Jewish and pro-Israel organizations and leaders, but also including a few key players on all sides of the political divide.

“… This recognition is a long-overdue step to implement U.S. law. The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 declared that Jerusalem ‘should remain an undivided city,’ and ‘the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem.’ When the United States ultimately relocates its embassy to Jerusalem, it will treat Israel as it does every other country with which we have diplomatic relations…Today’s action by President Trump is an important, historic step for which we are grateful. We urge the president to quickly relocate our embassy to Israel’s capital.” – AIPAC official statement.

“For twenty-two years, there has been an overwhelming bipartisan consensus in favor of moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to its rightful place in the Israeli capital city of Jerusalem. Today, the President took a courageous and historic step that was long overdue. Across the globe, America has its embassy in the capital city of the host country. Israel will now be no different. It is the just and right thing to do‎.” – US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.

“… For decades, ADL has called on the United States – and the entire international community – to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. At a time when international organizations and other detractors delegitimize the Jewish state and deny any Jewish connection to the holy city, this is a significant step that acknowledges reality: Jerusalem is the political capital of the country and has been the spiritual heart of the Jewish people for millennia … And yet this important and long overdue step should not preclude the imperative of peace negotiations – including discussions over the final status of Jerusalem. We urge the U.S., Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the international community to work together to reduce tensions and create conditions conducive for the rapid resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations leading to a two-state solution.” – Marvin D. Nathan, National Chair, and Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO, Anti-Defamation League.

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“Today, nearly seventy years after the founding of the modern State of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people, the United States has officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  Since 1949 the seat of Israel’s government has been in Jerusalem. This historic change in US policy rights a longstanding injustice.” – Stephen M. Greenberg, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

“Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. It has been the eternal capital of the Jewish people for more than three thousand years, and since 1948 the capital of the Jewish state. These are facts that cannot be denied … Today’s announcement does not and should not change the United States’ commitment to pursuing a real and sustainable peace in the region. Only through direct, bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians will a lasting peace and viable two-state solution be achieved with two peoples living side-by-side in peace, security and prosperity.” – Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL).

“This is the best response to the attempts to falsify history carried out tirelessly by the Arab countries and the Palestinians at UNESCO and the UN on the status of Jerusalem … We call on President Emmanuel Macron to commit our country in the same courageous manner.” – Francis Kalifat, President of French Jewish representative organization CRIF.

“… Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas makes clear he would cut off access to religious sites by regularly making the racist statement that: ‘In a final resolution, we would not see a single Israel civilian or soldier on our land.’ Jewish sites in PA-controlled territory, like Joseph’s Tomb, have already become virtually inaccessible to Jews. Palestinian Arabs also continue to desecrate Christian churches, statues, crosses and cemeteries, and land and property of Christians has been confiscated and extorted … When the Jordanian Arab Muslims controlled Jerusalem, it became a slum; Jordan built their Capitol in Amman, built the royal residence and university in Amman, and had their public Friday prayers chanted from a mosque in Amman – not Al Aqsa in Jerusalem … There are holy Muslim places in Jerusalem but Jerusalem has never been a holy city to Muslims; Mecca and Medina are the Muslim holy cities … The ZOA proudly and gratefully and with great appreciation proclaims a hearty and heartfelt thanks to President Trump.” – Morton Klein, President, Zionist Organization of America.

“… Moving the U.S. embassy is also a consensus view in Israel that enjoys broad support across the Israeli political spectrum, from the opposition Labor and Yesh Atid parties to the members of the country’s governing coalition … The administration decided to act at a critical time. Recent and continuous efforts at the United Nations to erase the connection of Jews to the birthplace of Judaism and the site of the First and Second Temples have been an insult to history. Earlier this year – on Independence Day in Israel – UNESCO approved a resolution denying Israeli claims to Jerusalem … The Palestinians must realize that unilateralism will no longer be rewarded and that the only acceptable path forward is genuine peace negotiations. For too long, the embassy relocation has been delayed by threats of violence from leaders of the Palestinian Authority and Arab states. Incitement comes from the PA, which inspires terrorism and pays for murder. American Jewish leaders and diplomats must continue to make clear that U.S. policy will not be held captive to blackmail.”– Joshua Block, CEO, The Israel Project.

“I welcome the administration’s decision to recognize Israel’s self-identified capital. Sovereign nations have a right to determine their seat of government, and our close ally Israel should not be treated differently. Relocating the U.S. Embassy should be done carefully, and in a way that advances our national security interests in a dangerous and unstable region.” – House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA).

“This monumental declaration will change the way that the U.S. State Department identifies Jerusalem. For example, Americans who were born in the city should now be able to identify Israel as their country of birth on their U.S. passports rather than just ‘Jerusalem.’ Furthermore, the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem should now report to the U.S. embassy, rather than directly to the State Department.” – B’nai B’rith International President Gary P. Saltzman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin.

“President Trump’s decision should inspire leading nations of the world, led by Canada, Germany, Russia, France, China, Japan, and the United Kingdom to follow suit … Like President Harry Truman’s singular recognition of the State of Israel, President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will be a seminal moment in Jewish history.” – Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

“President Trump’s ill-timed, but expected, announcement affirms what the Reform Jewish Movement has long held: that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Yet while we share the President’s belief that the U.S. Embassy should, at the right time, be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, we cannot support his decision to begin preparing that move now, absent a comprehensive plan for a peace process. Additionally, any relocation of the American Embassy to West Jerusalem should be conceived and executed in the broader context reflecting Jerusalem’s status as a city holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.” – Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President, Union for Reform Judaism.

“Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. I was proud to vote for the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which demonstrated Congress’ unified position that Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of Israel, and today’s announcement is consistent with existing U.S. law … We must remain focused on the goal of two states for two peoples – the Jewish state of Israel and a Palestinian state – living side-by-side in peace, security, and mutual recognition. The Administration must focus its efforts on bringing both sides to the table, as only the parties themselves can agree to end this conflict.” – Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY).

“Rational thinking in the conflict has been too rare. But when exercised, it has led to constructive peacemaking solutions and the building of ties between Israel and its neighbors, as well as many countries beyond the region. These should not end or recede because of any violent responses to President Trump’s action … In the future, with prudent hindsight, we will look back at Dec. 6, 2017 as a day of clear-headed and purposeful action by the White House.” – Kenneth Bandler, director of media relations, American Jewish Committee, writing on Fox News.

“It is bizarre that this decision should be seen as remarkable. Jerusalem has been the spiritual centre of Jewish life for 3,000 years, since the time of King David. As soon as Israel declared independence in 1948, it declared Jerusalem as its capital and placed its parliament in the West of the city, in territory recognized as Israel by the international community … Given that Jerusalem is in fact historically, presently and legally Israel’s capital, the decision by many countries not to formally recognize this has been an act of post-truth petulance. Jerusalem is home to the country’s legislature, Prime Ministry and Supreme Court. Upon their appointment, diplomats already present their credentials to the President at his residence in Jerusalem. Since the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, Israel has shown itself to be a far more reliable guardian of the holy places of Jews, Christians and Muslims than any of its predecessors in recent centuries.” – Jonathan Arkush and Richard Verber, Board of Deputies of British Jews.

“We believe this announcement by President Trump is not only the right thing to do with regard to Jerusalem, it is the right thing to do for those who hope for a long term arrangement for peace and security in the region.  The President’s policy makes clear that the path forward is one of negotiation between the parties, not counterproductive steps nor stalemate.” – Nathan J. Diament, Director of Public Policy, Orthodox Union.

“B’nai Brith Canada is calling on Ottawa to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and make plans to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv … Moving the Embassy is an overdue and common-sense decision … Jerusalem is Israel’s undivided and eternal capital, and all branches of its government have been based there since 1950.” – Michael Mostyn, CEO, B’nai Brith Canada.

“In recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and beginning the process of moving the US embassy there, President Trump has shown that he hears the voices of the millions of Americans who stand with Israel and respect the Jewish state’s sovereign rights. This move strengthens America’s international position by making clear that we will stand with our allies, oppose our enemies, and will never be bullied by terrorists.” – Sandra Parker, Action Fund Chairwoman, Christians United for Israel.

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  • The truth – not the fantasy – is that there was never an independent, sovereign Arab state called Palestine.
    Israel is “the only nation in the world that is governing itself in the same territory, under the same name, and with the same religion and same language as it did 3,000 years ago.”
    Jerusalem was never the capital of any Arab polity in all of recorded history. Only one people has ever made Jerusalem its capital and only one people ever established their indigenous ancestral and biblical homeland between East of the River Jordan and West to the Mediterranean Sea: the Jews.
    Israel was reconstituted in 1920 by the April 1920 San Remo Treaty which was confirmed by the August 1920 Treaty of Sevres and Lausanne, also by the January 1919 Faisal Weitzmann Agreement. The Arabs received at the same time over 6 million sq. miles of territory with a wealth of oil reserves and the Jewish State was to receive 46,300 sq. miles which is Palestine. In the years before Israel was formally reconstituted and declared sovereign in 1948, the world referred to its Jewish residents as Palestinians. Indeed, the Palestinian military units fighting with the British Army in World War Two were Jewish to the man and woman. Few, if any, Arabs or Muslims fought against the Axis powers during that war and indeed many Arabs served in SS units; often willing collaborators with the Germans in murdering Jewish communities in the Balkans and elsewhere.
    Remember, the word Palestine was the name the Romans renamed Israel and also named Jerusalem Aelia Capitolina. The Mandate for Palestine over the territory was granted under international law and treaty by the League of Nations in 1920 to Great Britain as trustee with the express duty and obligation of re-establishing within it a Jewish homeland as agreed to in international treaties executed after WWI.
    At that time, the Palestine Mandate covered all of what is Israel – including Judea and Samaria, or what is erroneously called the West Bank – and present day Jordan.
    What so many in the media forget, if they ever knew, is that after the Ottoman Empire was dismantled by the victorious Allies, France and Britain, at the end of World War One, many new Arab states were created with Palestine reserved exclusively for a Jewish homeland under international law and treaty.
    But Britain violated international treaties, thus, it reneged on its duty and obligation to the Jews and tore away four fifths of the Mandate territory in 1922 – that is all the land east of the Jordan River – and arbitrarily gave it away as a new Arab State to the Hashemite Bedouin tribe. Immediately Jews were forbidden to live in what became Trans-Jordan and eventually the Kingdom of Jordan: An early example of ethnic cleansing and Arab apartheid. All Jewish property East of the Jordan River was confiscated and any Jews expelled.
    The borders of the Mandate for Palestine as eventually determined; Jordan East of the Jordan River as the new Arab state taking away over 77% of Jewish territory and Israel everything West of the Jordan River including Jerusalem.
    Interestingly, Arabs and their leaders had rejected any notion of a separate Arab Palestinian identity. For them, Palestine was merely a part of Greater Syria and the Arabs were indistinct from their neighbors. Indeed, the Syrian dictator, Assad, still plots for the return of Jordan, Israel and the disputed territories.
    As far as Palestine was concerned to those Arab absentee landlords of the early years of the 20th century, living in the fleshpots of Cairo, Damascus and Beirut, the land was worthless: desolate, barren and malarial infested.
    Then the Jewish pioneers returning in the late 19th century began to purchase the wasted and barren land at exorbitant prices – much higher than fertile land in Iowa and Idaho – drained the swamps and redeem again the ancestral ancient beloved Jewish homeland.
    Jewish development of the centuries old desolate and neglected land, restored in familial love through blood, sweat and tears, ironically these brought into the territory hundreds of thousands of illegal Arab aliens who found livelihoods that were unavailable in the stagnant and corrupt neighboring Arab societies.
    The British authorities invariably turned a blind eye to the flood of Arab Illegals seeing in them a stick to beat the Jewish residents. Herein lays the false genesis of the present day Arab claim to all the land and their descendant’s stated threat to extirpate any and all Jewish life within its borders. The British as trustee for the Jewish people gave away without authority land to the Arabs in Israel.
    So many well-meaning people in the West, as well as latent anti-Semites, have fallen hook, line and sinker for the fabrication, delusion and myth of an Arab homeland called Palestine. So many people now believe the false and deceptive claim by the well-funded Arab deceptive propaganda machine that the Jews came and stole it, which is blatantly false.
    But though it sounds affecting and no doubt to the liberal mind particularly emotional with all the tugging of the heart strings that it implies, it is still an absolute lie just like the weed that can never be fully uprooted.
    For so many people who are either ignorant or hard hearted towards the Jewish state, they are unaware that the Jews were the aboriginal and remaining indigenous inhabitants for two millennia before the Muslim religion was created and Muslim armies swarmed out of Arabia with a Koran in one hand and a sword in the other to occupy vast territories in the name of Allah, while beheading some of the males, raping the women and taking them as slaves. The pity is that the bible as history is there for all to read. Sadly, so many ignore what is written.
    The Arabs have a spread of territory which is over 13 million square kilometers with a wealth of oil reserves in the Middle East and into North Africa (the Maghreb). Israel’s territory is barely 21,000 square kilometers (it was suppose to be 120,000 sq. km. all of Palestine) and may soon be reduced further in violation of international law and treaties and the Faisal-Weizmann agreement of January 3, 1919, which agreed that all of Palestine is allocated to the Jewish people; if the Jewish biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria is torn from it to create in its midst a terror state called Arab-Palestine: the 23rd Arab state.
    When the world extends to the million Jewish refugees who were terrorized, persecuted and expelled from Arab lands and all their assets including 120,000 sq. km/ of real property confiscated nearly 70 years ago the same sympathetic obsession that they extend to the Arabs who needlessly left Israel at the urging’s of the corrupt Arab League, then there maybe hope for a better international community than exists at the present time. The need for oil blinds them to the truth.
    Fighting terrorism is not unlike fighting a deadly cancer. It can not be treated just where it is visible – every diseased cell in the body must be destroyed completely with no traces left.
    When a poison strikes the human body, the only way to address it, is to remove it and destroy it completely. That is the way the terrorist organizations should be treated.
    YJ Draiman

    P.S. The Land of Israel were granted only and exclusively to the Jews in all of Palestine
    The letter became the basis of international law in following years which expanded on the principle of a Jewish homeland.
    In April 1920, Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan met in San Remo, Italy to consider what to do with the collapsed Ottoman Empire after its defeat in World War I. On April 24, the powers decided to adopt the key essence of the Balfour Declaration (being in favor of a Jewish homeland in Palestine) as a basis for the disposition of Palestine. The language of the San Remo Convention expanded on the theme with several additional declarations:
    • Historical basis for the Balfour Declaration: “Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country;“
    • Provide safety for the Jews: “The Mandatory shall be responsible for placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home, as laid down in the preamble, and the development of self-governing institutions, and also for safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion.” (Article 2)
    • Jews to have autonomy (possibly an independent state or something short of it): “The Mandatory shall, so far as circumstances permit, encourage local autonomy.” (Article 3)
    • Facilitate Jewish immigration and land ownership: “The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.” (Article 6)
    • Citizenship. “The Administration of Palestine shall be responsible for enacting a nationality law. There shall be included in this law provisions framed so as to facilitate the acquisition of Palestinian citizenship by Jews who take up their permanent residence in Palestine.” (Article 7)
    • Access to Holy Places. “All responsibility in connexion with the Holy Places and religious buildings or sites in Palestine, including that of preserving existing rights and of securing free access to the Holy Places, religious buildings and sites and the free exercise of worship, while ensuring the requirements of public order and decorum, is assumed by the Mandatory, who shall be responsible solely to the League of Nations in all matters connected herewith, provided that nothing in this article shall prevent the Mandatory from entering into such arrangements as he may deem reasonable with the Administration for the purpose of carrying the provisions of this article into effect; and provided also that nothing in this Mandate shall be construed as conferring upon the Mandatory authority to interfere with the fabric or the management of purely Moslem sacred shrines, the immunities of which are guaranteed.” (Article 13) “A special Commission shall be appointed by the Mandatory to study, define and determine the rights and claims in connection with the Holy Places and the rights and claims relating to the different religious communities in Palestine. The method of nomination, the composition and the functions of this Commission shall be submitted to the Council of the League for its approval, and the Commission shall not be appointed or enter upon its functions without the approval of the Council.” (Article 14)
    • Freedom to Worship and Live throughout the land: “The Mandatory shall see that complete freedom of conscience and the free exercise of all forms of worship, subject only to the maintenance of public order and morals are ensured to all. No discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants of Palestine on the ground of race, religion or language. No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief.” (Article 15)
    • Hebrew an official language. “English, Arabic and Hebrew shall be the official languages of Palestine. Any statement or inscription in Arabic on stamps or money in Palestine shall be repeated in Hebrew and any statement or inscription in Hebrew shall be repeated in Arabic.” (Article 22)
    As detailed above, the San Remo Conference took many more exhaustive steps in broadening the rights of Jews to a homeland beyond the simple statement of support in the brief Balfour Declaration.