Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, December 2017
American Muslim civil advocacy groups Thursday (Dec 7) vehemently opposed President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
They were of the view that Trump’s announcement serves no one’s interest but undermines the Middle East peace process couple with inflaming anti-U.S. sentiment across the globe.
On Wednesday, a coalition of Muslim, Interfaith and human rights groups held a news conference outside the White House in Washington, D.C., to respond to President's Trump's announcement on the status of Jerusalem.
The Muslim groups argue that Trump’s announcement has offended the religious sensibilities of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims, and empowered political and religious extremists of all stripes at home and abroad.
Israel captured Arab East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war. It later declared both halves of the city as its “eternal and undivided capital”. The declaration is not recognized internationally. The Palestinians want the eastern sector as capital of their promised state and fiercely oppose any Israeli attempt to extend sovereignty there.
The status of Jerusalem is one of the most contentious issues of the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Most of the international community does not formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, insisting the issue can only be resolved through final-status negotiations.
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee [ADC]
President Trump’s announcement serves no one’s interest; instead, it will have an immediate and catastrophic impact internationally by undermining the Middle East peace process and inflaming anti-U.S. sentiment across the globe, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) statement said adding:
“Israel’s annexation and claim over Jerusalem is completely illegal under international law, as recognized by the entire world. The fate of Jerusalem has always been understood to be resolved by a completed peace deal between Israel and Palestine. Up until today, this was the U.S.’s official stance on Jerusalem. Today, President Trump has completely reversed U.S. policy and greatly weakened the prospect any long-term chance at a substantive peace deal in the Middle East.”
“By endorsing Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem, President Trump is acting against international law, hurting U.S. interests at home and abroad, and destroying U.S. credibility on an international stage. The Trump Administration’s actions will not promote peace; conversely, the decision destroys the prospect of peace, promotes violence, and dismantles the U.S. credibility as a diplomatic force around the world,” the ADC statement concluded.
Council on American-Islamic Relations [CAIR]
On Wednesday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, joined a coalition of Muslim, Interfaith and human rights groups at a news conference outside the White House in Washington, D.C., to respond to President's Trump's expected announcement this afternoon on the status of Jerusalem. CAIR is calling on Americans of all backgrounds to contact their elected representatives to oppose Trump's "reckless" change of policy on Jerusalem.
In a statement reacting to the president's announcement on Jerusalem, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said:
"By overturning a decades-long policy adopted by administrations of both parties, President Trump is casting aside America's role as a mediator in the Middle East conflict, harming our Muslim allies and our nation's strategic foreign policy interests, offending the religious sensibilities of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims, and empowering political and religious extremists of all stripes at home and abroad. This dangerous, counterproductive and self-serving move should be rejected by every American who looks forward to a just and comprehensive resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
Muslim Public Affairs Council [MPAC]
The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) said that President Trump’s decision has derailed the peace process and it is a disaster for peace.
In a statement the MPAC said the U.S.’s role in the Middle East conflict is critical, but Trump has diminished American leadership not just in the peace process but in the entire Middle East. “Because of his misguided, uninformed decision, Trump can expect political unrest, stifled peace processes, and further limitations to freedom of religion and freedom of speech.”
Trump’s move eliminates the possibility of the U.S. acting as a peace-broker and overturns decades of U.S. policy towards the region, including a longstanding position that Israeli-Palestinian grievances must be resolved through negotiations, the MPAC said adding: Trump has reversed 70 years of international consensus and many global leaders believe that he derailed any peace initiative between the Israelis and Palestinians.
UNSC resolution 478 declared Israel’s enactment of the 1980 Basic Jerusalem Law -- that proclaimed a unified Jerusalem as the ”eternal and indivisible” capital of Israel -- as a violation of international law. In 2016, former Secretary of State John Kerry said the city “is the most sensitive issue for both sides” and suggested it be the “internationally recognized capital of the two states,” the MPAC statement recalled.
A sacred site for Jews, Muslims, and Christians
Jerusalem is also a part of the Occupied Territories. Israelis moving into these territories is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Trump’s recognition of the city as the capital of Israel will cause a sharp spike in unrest and conflict.
In recognizing Israeli settlements in and around Jerusalem as legitimate, the U.S. is now out-of-step with the rest of the international community who consider these settlements to be illegal.
This land has historical significance to all three Abrahamic faiths. Jerusalem is the de facto capital of the Holy Land for Jews, Muslims, and Christians. The U.S. is violating the religious freedom of Palestinians by recognizing the city as the capital of the Jewish state. Past Israeli attempts to add oversight to Jerusalem have sparked violence.
Domestic implications of Trump’s recognition
To understand the reasoning behind this move, we must understand a segment of Trump’s Christian evangelical base. Some evangelicals believe that the return of the Jews to Israel, and Jerusalem in particular, is a prerequisite for the Second Coming of Jesus.
According to a Pew Research Center poll, support for Israel is stronger among American evangelicals than it is even among American Jews. The poll found that 82 percent of white evangelicals think God gave Israel to the Jewish people. Less than half as many American Jews or American Catholics agree.
In a Bloomberg poll, almost 60 percent of evangelicals say the U.S. should support Israel even if its interests diverge with American interests. In recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Trump is fulfilling a campaign promise to this constituency at the expense of American interests.
Jewish Voice of Peace
Jewish Voice of Peace described Trumps decision as reckless, deeply irresponsible decision: for Palestinians, Israelis, and all of us. And it's on us to stand up.
In an email Rabbi Alissa Wise, Deputy Director of JVP, said:
“What we need is a U.S. policy that recognizes and addresses the root causes of the ongoing crisis in Israel/Palestine, not one that drastically inflames already existing inequities.
“Trump’s announcement overtly aligns the U.S. with an increasingly expansionist Israel, at the expense of Palestinian people’s lives and rights, and without any regard for diplomacy.
“No country in the world has an embassy in Jerusalem today, because the international community doesn’t recognize Israeli jurisdiction over the city. And there’s near-global consensus that moving the Embassy is a very bad idea — from Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, and other countries in the region, and from Germany, France, and the European Union, not to mention many senior U.S. State Department officials.”
Is Donald Trump about to set the Middle East ablaze?
Jonathan Freedland wrote in the Guardian, President Trump is walking into a bone-dry forest with a naked flame, the world’s most intractable conflict. “It is the issue that has foiled multiple efforts at peacemaking over several decades. Both Israelis and Palestinians insist that Jerusalem must be the capital of their states, present and future, and that that status is non-negotiable.”
Freedland quoted the Palestinian ambassador to London as sayings that Trump’s move amounts to “declaring war on 1.5 billion Muslims”.
“Why is Trump doing it? Perhaps he wants to show that he’s honoring his campaign pledges: now, along with his tax cut for the rich and his travel ban from mainly Muslim countries, he can tick the box marked Jerusalem. He said he would do it, and now he’s doing it, and to hell with the consequences,” Freedland concluded.
To borrow Stephen Lendman, fire and fury Trump warned North Korea about could erupt in Occupied Palestine and the Arab street.
Claiming to seek regional peace is a useful fiction, giving Israel maximum time to steal all valued Judea and Samaria land for exclusive Jewish development, Leman said adding:
“Trump’s decision is further proof of the peace process hoax, the latest chapter dead before initiated, according to Lendman. East Jerusalem as Palestine’s exclusive capital is fundamental for Palestinians. The issue is nonnegotiable.
“Without it, peace is unattainable – precisely what Washington and Israel want, pretending otherwise. A legitimate peace process never existed, for sure not now with Ziofascists infesting the Trump administration.”
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