Religious leaders offer blended reactions to Trump’s decision about Jerusalem

(RNS) – President Trump features announced america might “finally acknowledge the most obvious: that Jerusalem may be the capital of Israel.”

That declaration Wednesday (Dec. 6) followed days of speculation and concern from various that such a approach could bring about violence and quash hopes for a peace strategy between Israelis and Palestinians.

Some religious leaders and activists echoed that concern, as other folks welcomed the news – notably Trump’s evangelical Christian supporters, who had extended lobbied for the change.

This is a sampling of their reactions, a few of which have been edited for length:

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism

“President Trump’s ill-timed, but expected, announcement affirms what the Reform Jewish Movement has extended held: that Jerusalem may be the eternal capital of the Jewish persons and the Point out of Israel. But while we share the President’s belief that the U.S. Embassy should, at the right time, be relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, we can not support his decision to get started preparing that move today, absent a comprehensive arrange for a peace process. Also, any relocation of the American Embassy to West Jerusalem ought to be conceived and executed in the broader context reflecting Jerusalem’s status as a metropolis holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.”

Anti-Defamation League Chair Marvin D. Nathan and CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt

“At a time when international organizations and other detractors delegitimize the Jewish point out and deny any Jewish link with the holy city, that is a significant step that acknowledges reality: Jerusalem may be the political capital of the country and has been the spiritual heart of the Jewish persons for millennia. We welcome President Trump’s announcement that america – almost 70 years following the founding of the Point out of Israel – will get started the process to relocate its embassy steady with the longstanding bipartisan consensus as enshrined in the Jerusalem Embassy Work of 1995. And yet this important and extended overdue step shouldn’t preclude the essential of peace negotiations – incorporating discussions over the final status of Jerusalem.”

Patriarchs and heads of native churches in Jerusalem

A letter written earlier this week was delivered to Trump from the patriarchs of the Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic Orthodox patriarchates and the archbishops of the Latin, Coptic Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox and Ethiopian Orthodox patriarchates, among additional church leaders:

“Mr. President, we have been following, with concern, the reports about the opportunity of changing the way the United States understands and handles the status of Jerusalem. We will be certain that such methods will yield improved hatred, conflict, violence and battling in Jerusalem and the Holy Territory, moving us farther from the goal of unity and deeper toward destructive division. We talk to from you Mr. President to help us all walk towards more like and a definitive peace, which can’t be reached without Jerusalem getting for all. Our solemn advice and plea is certainly for america to continue recognizing the present international status of Jerusalem. Any unexpected changes would reason irreparable harm.”

Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of Initial Baptist Church Dallas

“Jerusalem is and should be recognized as the capital of Israel. It really is David’s capital, the website of the First and Second Temples, the focus of the historians’ accounts, the Psalmists’ tracks and the prophets’ visions. It’s the place where Jesus, a Jew himself, was crucified and where he was resurrected. It’s the place where he will set foot again on earth at his second arriving. President Donald J. Trump offers demonstrated authentic leadership today by recognizing Jerusalem as the reputable capital of Israel. President Trump is certainly a modern-working day profile in courage, accomplishing what no additional president has been willing to do.”

The status quo of the town of Jerusalem is one of the few stable elements of expect peace and reconciliation for Christians, Jews and Muslims in the Holy Lands. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. – Justin Welby ن (@JustinWelby) December 6, 2017

Paula Light, senior pastor of New Destiny Christian Center

“Promise made. Guarantee kept. Once more, President Trump has displayed the world what I’ve always known – he’s a leader who’s willing to do what is right however loud the voices will be of the skeptics and the critics. Evangelicals will be ecstatic, for Israel is certainly to us a sacred place and the Jewish persons are our dearest good friends.”

Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine

“Of course Jerusalem may be the capital of the State of Israel. Nonetheless it is also the capital of the Point out of Palestine, currently occupied by the Israeli army and struggling to workout its sovereignty in the Arab parts of Jerusalem that may some day be a part of the Palestinian point out. To ignore this simple fact, and instead play to the most reactionary aspect of the Israeli persons and of the Jewish persons all over the world is to not just be ignorant and arrogant, but also terribly destructive to the opportunity of the U.S. playing a constructive role in bringing an end to the Israeli/Palestinian struggle.”

History happening before our eye! God bless Israel and her capital Jerusalem! #maranatha pic.twitter.com/SK6wP1h0Sa – Tony Suarez-NHCLC VP (@revtonysuarez) December 6, 2017

Nihad Awad, executive director of CAIR National

In a statement unveiled prior to the president’s predicted announcement on Jerusalem, Awad stated:

“By overturning a decades-long coverage adopted by administrations of both functions, President Trump is casting apart America’s role as a mediator in the Middle East conflict, harming our Muslim allies and our nation’s strategic foreign coverage interests, offending the religious sensibilities of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, and empowering political and religious extremists of most stripes in the home and abroad. This dangerous, counterproductive and self-serving approach ought to be rejected by every American who appears forward to a merely and comprehensive image resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Tony Perkins, president of Family group Research Council

“Today is a major milestone in America’s historic marriage with Israel. Beneath the bold and courageous leadership of President Trump, America is certainly finally putting American passions and the passions of our essential allies first. America’s foreign policy, as it pertains to Israel, is getting into alignment with this biblical fact: Jerusalem may be the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish point out.”

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of International Fellowship of Christians and Jews

“With respect to The Fellowship’s millions of Evangelical Christian supporters all over the world, I applaud the U.S. administration’s decision today to formally identify Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. This is a bold, courageous move that is extended overdue, and is especially significant via Israel’s closest ally. Both Jews and Christians all over the world possess prayed because of this day, which privileges a historic wrong by affirming to the world that Jerusalem may be the eternal capital of the Jewish persons.”

Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the us

“I am deeply disturbed to understand of the Trump administration’s plans to go the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The ELCA has extended held the view that a negotiated, final status agreement, incorporating a ‘shared Jerusalem,’ must be reached without unilateral activities by any get together that would prejudice the results of negotiations. … To proceed with this course of action will only further isolate our nation from the global movement for a merely peace for Jews, Christians and Muslims alike in your community and our church’s coverage that seeks an end to the occupation, an end to terrorism and violence, and, inevitably, the establishment of a practical, contiguous Palestinian state.”

Proud of @realDonaldTrump for embassy move to Jerusalem Capitol of Jewish persons since time of King David and never Capitol for any additional nation. EVER. @POTUS shows courage and clarity. – Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) December 6, 2017

Ralph Reed, founder and chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition

“We will be so grateful for President Trump’s pro-Israel stance and his bold leadership. Just like the President, we stay fully committed to experiencing the U.S. embassy relocated to Jerusalem, the chair of the Israeli federal government, as soon as possible. To do otherwise will only give false encouragement to Israel’s enemies, a lot of whom still won’t acknowledge its living or keep diplomatic relations using its government.”

Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Tone of voice for Peace

“For seventy years, the united states has offered Israel tacit approval to steal Palestinian territory, build against the law Jewish settlements, and deny Palestinians in East Jerusalem and elsewhere their rights. The Trump-Netanyahu alliance calls for these ongoing policies to the next level and is certainly reckless, irresponsible and endangers the lives of Palestinians and Israelis.”

#Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel no matter how many moments Trump says it. He doesn’t speak for me personally. – Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) December 6, 2017

Pope Francis

Speaking after his weekly general audience in Wednesday, the pope stated his “thoughts go to Jerusalem” and urged respect for the city’s “status quo.”

“I pray to the Lord that its identity is preserved and strengthened for the advantage of the Holy Territory, the Middle East and the whole world,” he stated, “and that wisdom and prudence prevail to prevent new elements of tension from appearing added to a global context currently convulsed by as a result many cruel conflicts.”

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