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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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