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Reconstructionist Statement on Trump Announcement Recognizing Jerusalem as Capital

December 6, 2017

The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College / Jewish Reconstructionist Communities and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association are concerned over the possible impacts of the timing and the unilateral manner of President Trump’s decision for the U.S. to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital outside the framework of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. In our movement we have long understood Jerusalem to be the capital of modern Israel, just as we have long understood the need for careful and constructive diplomacy by the U.S. when dealing with a place as utterly unique as Jerusalem, where deep religious, historical, and national claims overlap. For many years now we have also advocated for the day when a negotiated peace agreement ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would lead to the formal recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, not only by the U.S., but by nations all over the world. Many of us have envisioned that day as one in which the international community would even be celebrating the establishment of two capitals in different parts of the Holy City — one of Israel and one of Palestine — ushering in a new era of coexistence and mutual recognition. Our concern is that this abrupt disruption of the diplomatic status quo by the U.S. on this unusually sensitive and explosive issue may lead to dangerous unintended consequences, including renewed escalations of violence and terrorism.  

Israelis are politically savvy and have long understood that the need for skillful diplomacy, and not the denial of the centrality of Jerusalem to Israelis, has been the rationale for the U.S.’s decades-long holding pattern on this particularly charged issue. We hope that today’s announcement will not ignite new rounds of violence or damage the ability of the U.S. to use its influence to support the renewal of Israeli-Palestinian and regional peace negotiations. In his remarks today, President Trump pledged to do everything in his power to pursue those goals, and we hope he will follow through vigorously and constructively.

As Jews, we are tied to Jerusalem historically, spiritually, and emotionally. Jerusalem is in our prayers and represents our people’s deepest yearnings for peace and redemption for all of humanity. We call on the president and American political leaders who care about the wellbeing of Israelis and Palestinians alike to focus their efforts on rebuilding trust, dialogue, and negotiations so that we can more speedily arrive at a time when Jerusalem will truly be a place of peace, reconciliation, and coexistence.