The Episcopal Church responds to Trump’s Jerusalem declaration

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Released today from the Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations:

Statement Regarding the U.S. Embassy in Israel

Today, President Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announced that he intends to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, a move that would reverse more than 50 years of U.S. foreign policy. This decision could have profound ramifications on the peace process and the future of a two-state solution, and it could have a negative impact throughout the region and with key U.S. allies. The Episcopal Church Office is joining with Churches for Middle East Peace and many other organizations in opposing any effort to move the Embassy.

Since 1985, the Episcopal Church has had policy opposing the movement of the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Our policy states that the status of Jerusalem must be “determined by negotiation and not by unilateral action by any one community, religion, race or nation.”

+Archbishop Suheil Dawani, Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East, has joined with patriarchs and heads of local churches in Jerusalem in opposing this move. We support Archbishop Suheil and value his perspective and expertise. As Episcopalians and Anglicans, we reiterate our view that the final status of Jerusalem, a city important to Jews, Muslims, and Christians, needs to be negotiated by Israelis and Palestinians with the support of our nation and the international community.

The Episcopal News Service links to a letter sent by the leaders of Christian churches in Jerusalem to Trump, excerpted here:

Mr. President, we have been following, with concern, the reports about the possibility of changing how the United States understands and deals with the status of Jerusalem. We are certain that such steps will yield increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, moving us farther from the goal of unity and deeper toward destructive division. We ask from you Mr. President to help us all walk towards more love and a definitive peace, which cannot be reached without Jerusalem being for all.

Our solemn advice and plea is for the United States to continue recognizing the present international status of Jerusalem. Any sudden changes would cause irreparable harm. We are confident that, with strong support with our friends, Israelis and Palestinians can work towards negotiating a sustainable and just peace, benefiting all who long for the Holy City of Jerusalem to fulfil its destiny. The Holy City can be shared and fully enjoyed once a political process helps liberate the hearts of all people, that live within it, from the conditions of conflict and destructiveness that they are experiencing.

Christmas is upon us soon. It is a feast of peace. The Angels have sung in our sky: Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to the people of good will. In this coming Christmas, we plea for Jerusalem not to be deprived from peace, we ask you Mr. President to help us listen to the song of the angels. As the Christian leaders of Jerusalem, we invite you to walk with us in hope as we build a just, inclusive peace for all the peoples of this unique and Holy City.

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Kirsten Grant
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Kirsten Grant

Thank you for this letter to Trump this Christmas season. We pray for peace for our holy city.

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Addison Bross
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Addison Bross

This outrage of our President did not begin with him. It was prepared for by many decades of US policy under a long succession of presidents, many years of distorted, “both-sides-tol-blame” analysis in our media, myriad repetitions of Congresspersons’ disgusting placation of AIPAC in exchange for votes, of acceptance by churches (including ECUSA) of our government’s official story. Trump committed this atrocity, which will set back even further the now quite comatose “peace” movement, not from any notion about the Palestine/Israel conflict that he dreamed up for himself or that Jared Kusnher devised, and not from any of the sane analyses long available from such sources as Noam Chomsky, Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, or the Jewish-Israeli journalists Gideon Levy or Amira Hass, who have shown the struggle for what it is: the Palestinian people’s struggle for self-determination against an occupying colonialist regime. No. Trump's atrocity had distinguished, orthodox precedents.

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Dena Barrett
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Dena Barrett

Like most things this abstain does, this move clearly demonstrates his bigotry towards Muslims. And the incredibly short sighted insult towards Muslims will give further excuses to Islamic extremists to resent and lash out against Americans. This is the perfect recruiting tool for jihadists to strike or again at us in retaliation. Typical for this administration, trumps actions once again place or world and our country at risk. Instead of working towards peace and stability, his actions increase tensions and violence and increase the likelihood that Americans will suffering from extremists' attacks. These will them be used as an excuse to pass more bigoted legislation to discriminate and excuse violence towards Muslims and move us closer to actual warfare. Which seems to be exactly what this administration wants.

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John Stewart
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Congress overwhelmingly passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, when Bill Clinton was in the White House. Even though he did not sign it, it became law because Clinton signed off on a waiver, which allows the president to delay the move for six months if " such suspension is necessary to protect the national security interests of the United States". The delay was used repeatedly by Clinton, George Bush and Obama. Trump signed a waiver in June. Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated 11 days after telling Congress there was but one capital of Israel which was Jerusalem. The referenced Episcopal Archbishop, Suheil Dawani, was denied permission to live in Jerusalem in 2011 because he unlawfully sold Israeli-owned property to Palestinians. Dawani was also accused of forging documents. Dawani rejected an offer to remain in Jerusalem under a work permit status.

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Steven Wilson
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Steven Wilson

Archbishop Dawani's residency permit was suspended in Feb 2011 and reinstated in Sept 2011 without the State of Israel having ever provided documentation to back up its allegation of illegal land dealings. He is still living there, six years later. No documents verifying the charges have ever been produced. "Where there's smoke," there's sometimes only just smoke.

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Kimberly Glenn
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Kimberly Glenn

Perhaps if our embassy is located in Jerusalem, where the Knesset meets, we will have more grounds to argue for human rights there. Our embassy presence in Tel Aviv has not seemed to influence peace in any positive respect, has it?

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