Several Hoosier groups express opinions following Trump Jerusalem statement

A view of Jerusalem Old City seen from Mount of Olives, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. U.S. officials say President Donald Trump will recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital Wednesday, Dec. 6, and instruct the State Department to begin the multi-year process of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city. His decision could have deep repercussions across the region. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Several Indiana groups are reacting to President Donald Trump’s statement Wednesday recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by moving the U.S. embassy to that location.

“It’s obviously a very polarizing issue,” said Aliya Amin, executive director of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana. “The Muslim faith, the Christian faith, the Jewish faith, we all have very significant ties to that city.”

Amin explained the Muslim Alliance of Indiana was organized after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks as a way to shed light on what she calls “true Muslims and true Islam” in Indiana. The Muslim Alliance of Indiana has close to 3,000 members of various faiths focused on community service, peace, awareness and equality.

“Our biggest concern is that this decision does not really promote peace and that it may be a setback to nay future peace talks,” Amin said. “We have really worked hard to forge relationships with our Jewish and Christian brothers and sisters and other faith groups in Indianapolis and so we are going to continue to work hard to move forward together in spite of this announcement.”

“This is pretty devastating to hear today,” Malkah Bird, chapter leader for the Jewish Voice for Peace, said. “Jerusalem is a holy place and a place of hope for so many people and different regions from around the world.”

Bird, who is Jewish, said she found a home in the peaceful doctrines of Judaism. She emphasized that does not include the occupation of another person’s land.

“It really flies in the face of international law, it flies in the face of the 40 percent of the Jerusalemites who are Palestinians who live there and consider this to be their home and are experiencing increased oppression from settlers and the government there,” Bird said.

Even though she is on the so called “Jewish side,” she doesn’t see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as “us” and “them,” fighting over ownership of Jerusalem. She says she doesn’t believe Trump and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu get to make those distinctions.

“Netanyahu and Israelis and some American Jewish groups don’t speak for all Jewish people,” Bird said. “We really believe that we are not all going to be safe until everyone is safe, and that includes Palestinians and Israelis.”

While Bird and Amin have never met, they are spending their working hours ensuring a peaceful resolution for each others’ people. They’ve both encouraged Hoosiers to do the same, and not allow divisiveness to prevail.

“Reach out to your Muslim or Jewish or Christian neighbor and just say ‘we are more than this, our relationship is not defined on this announcement,'” Amin said. “At the end of the day we have our other relationships here that are not centered around whats happening in the Middle East.”

Three Indiana organizations, one Hoosier Palestinian and U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, a Democrat from Indianapolis, released statements Wednesday.

The Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council released the following statement:

The Jewish Community Relations Council is the Jewish community’s official consensus building, public affairs, and interfaith relations arm. We  appreciate President Trump’s announcement that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel, thereby honoring the U.S. congress’ commitment made in the 1995 Jerusalem Relocation Embassy Act, which affirmed that each sovereign nation under international law has the right to designate its own capital. Longstanding bipartisan support to relocate the U.S. embassy to Israel’s capital has been consistently reaffirmed by both Democratic and Republican party platforms for decades.

Recognition by the United States is important as man of Israel’s detractors make the pernicious claim that there is no Jewish connection to Jerusalem, seeking to negate the fact that Jerusalem that has been both the spiritual and physical center of Jewish existence for 3,000 years. Moreover, the Israeli parliament, government ministries, courts, and residences of the prime minister and president have been located in Jerusalem since just after the founding of the State of Israel in 1948. For more than 50 years, while under Israeli sovereignty, the rights of all faiths have been respected and protected to ensure that all may pray as they wish at holy sites in Jerusalem.

We welcome the President reiterating the support of the United States to seek a negotiated agreement between Israelis and Palestinians that envisions two states for two peoples, living side-by-side, in peace and security, and for clarifying that this announcement is not intended to restrict the final status decisions, which should be determined by the parties themselves.

The path to peace is challenging, and we acknowledge that many in our community have concerns about whether the timing of this announcement will complicate or smooth the way forward. We hope that Israeli and Palestinian leaders will take meaningful steps to ease tensions and advance the cause of peace. The Indianapolis JCRC remains committed to continuing our work with local partners in the Muslim and Christian communities to build meaningful relationships, conduct joint programming, and encourage constructive dialogue that fosters respect and mutual understanding.

Indiana Jewish Voice for Peace released this statement:

For 70 years, the U.S. has given Israel tacit approval to steal Palestinian land, build illegal Jewish settlements and deny Palestinians in East Jerusalem and elsewhere their rights. Trump’s decision takes these ongoing policies to the next level and is reckless, irresponsible and endangers the lives of Palestinians and Israelis.Jerusalem is a symbol of holiness and hope for many people of many religions the world over. We want there to be a shared and peaceful Jerusalem. Moving the U.S. embassy there not only flies in the face of the international legal consensus, but also furthers the agenda of those who seek to re-cast a struggle for land, rights and sovereignty into a religious conflict.”

The Muslim Alliance of Indiana released this statement:

The Muslim Alliance of Indiana (MAI) is concerned about President Trump’s announcement today declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel, and relocating the United States embassy. Jerusalem has historic and religious significance to a number of faiths, especially those of Islamic, Christian and Jewish traditions.

“While we do not have an answer for peace in the Middle East, we do know that declaring Jerusalem as the Israeli capital is a very polarizing issue and the President’s decision has been made unilaterally, without input from all affected parties in the region,” says Aliya Amin, executive director of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana. “Because MAI is dedicated to interfaith work and global peace, we are deeply concerned about the impact of the President’s announcement on any future peace talks abroad, and specifically relations between Muslims, Christians and Jews right here in Indiana. We will continue our work here to bridge the gap between our faiths, and will continue to pray for peace around the world.”

Indiana Palestine Solidarity released this statement:

This unfortunate decision will be a disruption for the peace process. Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will distract the world from the illegal apartheid and human rights violations against the Palestinian people. President Trump is not considering all aspects and the depth of how this decision will be affecting both Palestinians under the illegal occupation.

Maria Antonia Ali, a Palestinian living in Indiana, released this statement:

Jerusalem is neutral ground, filled with holy sites precious to Christians, Muslims and Jews from around the world. Moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem is a recognition of Israel as a legal state, ignoring various crimes Israel has committed against Palestinians and rewarding them with a “capital” in a city which is not rightfully theirs. Violating international law by declaring Jerusalem Israel’s capital and moving the U.S. Embassy are dangerous actions that risk violence and jeopardize efforts to realize a just and lasting peace, not only in Palestine but in the Middle East.

Carson released this statement:

I am deeply concerned by President Trump’s decision to overturn longstanding U.S. policy by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocating our embassy. This decision is likely to drive serious unrest across the region, unacceptably putting countless innocent people at risk. It makes lasting peace much more difficult to achieve, makes Israel less secure, and ignores competing Palestinian claims for parts of Jerusalem, which should be resolved through peace negotiations and not unilateral U.S. action.

 In his announcement, President Trump said this does not represent an American position on a final status agreement, expressed openness to a two state solution, and called for continuation of the status quo at Jerusalem holy sites. I support these important statements. However, it is simply unreasonable to think that today’s announcement will do anything but inflame tensions on both sides and unduly influence negotiations with broad international implications. 

If President Trump truly wants to pursue peace he should avoid taking actions, like this one, that lead to conflict, and instead work to bring the Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiating table.”