Over 140 US Jewish Studies Scholars Sign Statement Criticizing Trump’s Jerusalem Decision
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Over 140 US Jewish Studies Scholars Sign Statement Criticizing Trump’s Jerusalem Decision

President Donald Trump delivering a statement on Jerusalem from the White House in Washington, D.C., as Vice President Mike Pence looks on, Dec. 6, 2017. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump delivering a statement on Jerusalem from the White House in Washington, D.C., as Vice President Mike Pence looks on, Dec. 6, 2017. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

More than 130 Jewish studies scholars from U.S. colleges and universities signed a statement expressing “dismay” at President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The statement criticizes Trump’s “decision to reverse decades of bipartisan U.S. policy by declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel, and authorizing the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv, outside of a negotiated political framework that ends the legal state of occupation and ensures respect for the rights of all Israelis and Palestinians to Jerusalem.”

“Jerusalem is of immense religious and thus emotional significance to Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike. It is the focus of national aspirations for both Israelis and Palestinians. We hope one day to see a world in which all inhabitants of the land enjoy equal access to the city’s cultural and material resources. Today, unfortunately, that is not the case,” the scholars say in the statement.

The statement cites information from the left-wing Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, which documents that “Palestinian residents of Jerusalem endure systematic inequalities, including an inequitable distribution of the city’s budget and municipal services, routine denial of building permits that are granted to Jewish residents, home demolitions, and legal confiscation of property for Jewish settlement. In addition, Palestinians in the West Bank, unlike Jewish Israelis resident in that territory, require a special permit to visit Jerusalem’s holy sites.”

The statement continues: “In this context, a declaration from the United States government that appears to endorse sole Jewish proprietorship over Jerusalem adds insult to ongoing injury and is practically guaranteed to fan the flames of violence. We therefore call on the U.S. government to take immediate steps to deescalate the tensions resulting from the President’s declaration and to clarify Palestinians’ legitimate stake in the future of Jerusalem.”

U.S. President Donald Trump in a speech Wednesday from the White House recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and directed the State Department to prepare for moving the embassy there from Tel Aviv.

His decision upended seven decades of U.S. foreign policy that has resisted a recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital before the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved.

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