Jewish organizations in the United States on Wednesday welcomed President Donald Trump’s announcement that the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (OU) applauded Trump for what it called “his historic change of U.S. government policy toward the status of Jerusalem – the ancient and current capital of Israel and the Jewish People.”
“Over 3000 years ago, King David constructed the holy city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. For millennia, Jews around the world directed their prayers toward Jerusalem and prayed to return to Jerusalem. Indeed, the prayer to return to Jerusalem is invoked at the conclusions of the sacred Yom Kippur service and the Passover Seder. In 1948, when the modern State of Israel was miraculously founded, its leaders – of course – chose Jerusalem as the capital even though Arab armies occupied Judaism’s holiest sites. With G-d’s help, the city was reunited in 1967 and it has flourished ever since. Under Israeli rule, Jerusalem is an open city where people of all faiths may freely visit and worship at their holy sites,” it said.
“Sadly, and from our perspective wrongly, the international community has ignored the history of Jerusalem and its centrality in the lives and faith of the Jewish people. Moreover, the responsible stewardship for the holy city provided by the State of Israel is largely ignored. In 1995, the United States Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed the Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act – legislation advocated for by the Orthodox Union. The 1995 Act established as a matter of U.S. policy the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and required the relocation of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. While Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama each pledged to implement this commitment, none of them did. Today, President Trump began to fulfill this promise.”
Allen Fagin, OU’s Executive Vice President, said,
“For the past twenty-two years, the Orthodox Union has persistently and proudly advocated for Presidents and their Administrations to do the right thing – consistent with the duly enacted law – and move our Embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem. Therefore – today – we applaud President Trump for his historic announcement and for beginning the process of relocating the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.”
Mark (Moishe) Bane, President of the OU, added, “We commend President Trump for doing what is not just the right thing to do, but what is actually the common sense thing to do – to have America’s embassy in the chosen capital city of a close ally, the State of Israel.”
Nathan J. Diament, Director of Public Policy for the Orthodox Union, said, “We believe this announcement by President Trump is not only the right thing to do with regard to Jerusalem, it is the right thing to do for those who hope for a long term arrangement for peace and security in the region. The President’s policy makes clear that the path forward is one of negotiation between the parties, not counterproductive steps nor stalemate.”
The National Council of Young Israel also applauded the decision, saying: "The National Council of Young Israel applauds President Trump’s decision to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Farley Weiss, the President of NCYI, says, “This is not only the right and brave decision, but it is also a decision of extraordinary importance to Israel and the Jewish people. We are gratified that the President did not let terror threats prevent him from taking this momentous step forward in our relationship with the Jewish state.”
"NCYI’s firm stance is that Jerusalem is not only the eternal capital of the Jewish people, but that Israel does not have secure borders without Jerusalem.
"This decision has overwhelming bipartisan support in Israel and America. It has been over 20 years since the Jerusalem Embassy Act was approved by a 93-5 vote in the U.S. Senate. We note that Democratic leader of the Senate, Chuck Schumer, has publicly supported moving our Embassy to Jerusalem. This decision has only been touched on and hinted at by former presidents, while President Trump is the first to keep it."
The American Jewish Congress (AJC) issued a statement welcoming Trump’s announcement as well, saying, “This historic acknowledgement by the Trump administration recognizes Jerusalem’s just and rightful position as the heart of the Jewish State and nation.”
“The Palestinians have for some time embarked on diplomatic terrorism at international institutions including the UN and UNESCO. In this they were aided by President Obama’s abstention on the anti-Israel UN Security Council resolution last December, which threatened to strain the special relationship between the US and Israel, and sent a dangerous message to the Palestinians that the US was abandoning its longstanding American policy of vetoing unilateral resolutions against Israel. This has served only to entrench attitudes towards the Palestinians by those on the right in America and across the Jewish world. The Palestinians really only have themselves to blame for today’s announcement,” said the statement.
“That said, the American Jewish Congress is encouraged by the increased signs of engagement between Israel and Sunni Arab states, which make the prospects of achieving a lasting negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians an ever more realistic outcome. The American Jewish Congress looks to the US to continue to lead the way among the international community to facilitate constructive dialogue and actions between Israel and the Palestinians with the aim of reinvigorating the dormant peace process.”
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations welcomed Trump’s announcement as well.
"Today, nearly seventy years after the founding of the modern State of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people, the United States has officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” said Stephen M. Greenberg, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, of the Conference of Presidents.
“Since 1949 the seat of Israel’s government has been in Jerusalem. This historic change in U.S. policy rights a longstanding injustice,” they added.
“Although President Trump renewed the waiver under the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, he confirmed that the multi-year process for moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem envisioned by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in Congress in passing the Jerusalem Embassy Act and supported by both Republican and Democratic Party platforms for more than twenty years, would begin now.”
“As the President noted, nothing in the decision announced today pre-empts negotiations over any core issue in the conflict, including the final boundaries of Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem.”
“It is our hope the decisions announced by President Trump will enhance the prospects for progress toward peace. We look forward to continued strong U.S. leadership and support the President’s commitment to facilitating meaningful negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.”
“The Conference of Presidents is gratified that its decades-long policy calling for U.S. recognition of Israel’s capital in Jerusalem has now been realized,” said Hoenlein and Greenberg.
They added they are “deeply disturbed by statements emanating from the Palestinian Authority and others in the Muslim world threatening dire consequences, including violence, for U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. These threats echo decades of belligerence and incitement and serve to further erode the credibility of the Palestinian leadership’s commitment to resolving the conflict. The Palestinian Authority, Israel’s neighbors in the region, and all governments must act clearly and directly to prevent the outbreak of violence.”
“For nearly 3,500 years, the Jewish people have maintained an indivisible bond to Jerusalem. It is truly fitting that President Trump has taken this step just days before Jews all over the world begin celebrating the festival of Hanukkah marking the return of Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem and the rededication of the Temple, the holiest site in Judaism, more than 2,000 years ago. U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel also sends a strong message to the international community that attempts in the UN to erase the Jewish connection to Jerusalem are counterproductive and will not succeed," concluded Hoenlein and Greenberg.
"This decision, which implements a law passed by Congress in 1995, acknowledges the reality that each sovereign nation can choose the location of its capital and the eternal bond between the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem that dates back to the Bible. Jews, who for millennia have yearned for the divine presence to return to Jerusalem, rightly take pride in American confirmation of these bonds and this reality. It corrects the absurdity of denying the political and physical reality of the location of Israel’s capital since statehood was declared almost seventy years ago.
"We pray that this decision will have a constructive effect on the universal desire for peace and tranquility in the land of Israel and the Middle East. May this momentous decision herald the day when “from Zion shall go forth the Torah and the word of God from Jerusalem.”
The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), the largest Orthodox rabbinic public policy organization in America, noted that every other country chooses its capital, and all other countries place their embassies in those same cities to facilitate access to officials of the host government.
Rabbi Pesach Lerner, President of the CJV said: "President Trump's decision is correct politically and pragmatically. It is previous Presidents, European and Arab leaders who should be questioned regarding their double standard applied uniquely to Israel. We hope the President starts and completes his pledge to move the embassy, as well."