Photo: AP
News US embassy sign in Jerusalem
Photo: AP
Photo: J Street
Yael Patir
Photo: J Street

Most US Jews oppose embassy move

Op-ed: It’s time Israelis understand that Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem aims to satisfy his evangelical supporters rather than the Jews. About 80 percent of the US Jewry sees the embassy move as a dangerous step which could negatively affect America’s position as a decent mediator between Israel and the Palestinians.

Preparations are underway to move the US embassy to Jerusalem—or at least the embassy sign—and a high-ranking delegation of senior Trump administration officials has already arrived in Israel to attend the ceremony: The president’s daughter, Ivanka (or Yael, her Hebrew name); her husband and the president’s advisor, Jared Kushner; Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin; Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt; and, of course, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.



All these people happen to be Jewish. The delegation includes four of the only eight Jews in the Trump administration (former President Barack Obama, by the way, had more than 30 Jewish advisors and ministers).


US President Donald Trump  (Photo: Reuters)
US President Donald Trump (Photo: Reuters)


So the Jews are coming to Jerusalem, perhaps in an attempt to strengthen the administration’s “Jewish motif,” but their presence at the event may actually stress the opposite. According to a survey commissioned by the American Jewish Committee (AJC), Trump won just a little over 20 percent of Jewish votes in the presidential election. Furthermore, not only is Mnuchin the only Jewish cabinet member in the administration, the Republican Party’s Jewish presence in Congress isn’t very impressive either: Only two of the 30 Jewish senators and House of Representatives members are Republicans.


It’s no coincidence, according to the same poll, that a majority of more than 80 percent of US Jews support the two-state solution and that about 80 percent are against moving the embassy to Jerusalem in general, or without making significant progress in the peace process. This public sees the embassy move as a dangerous step, as part of the Trump administration’s policy in the region, which could negatively affect America’s legitimacy as a decent mediator between Israel and the Palestinians.


Sometimes, it seems like the main political interest dictating Trump’s conduct in the Middle East isn’t the Jewish vote but rather the evangelical vote of the settlements’ Christian supporters who are affiliated with the radical right-wing camp in the US and in Israel. They are the ones the president is appealing to by moving the embassy or “taking Jerusalem off the negotiating table.” They are the ones applauding him, while most US Jews understand the disastrous consequences this policy is likely to have on the entire region and especially on Israel.


Preparations for US Embassy opening in Jerusalem (Photo: Reuters)
Preparations for US Embassy opening in Jerusalem (Photo: Reuters)


So despite the strictly Jewish delegation arriving in Israel to inaugurate the embassy, a wider look reveals that the Jewish American public opposes Trump’s conduct, both in general and in regards to his Middle East policy.


As Israelis, we must keep in touch with this public, listen to it and understand that they see themselves as pro-Israel and are committed to the state and to its security, while opposing the unilateral moves being promoted by the US and Israeli governments.


An overwhelming majority of US Jews, both Democrats and Republicans, see Jerusalem as the State of Israel’s capital, but many of them question the need to relocate the embassy and consider it an unwise move. Instead of ignoring or attacking them, we should listen to them. As the Book of Proverbs says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.”


Yael Patir is the director of the Israel Program at J Street. 


פרסום ראשון: 05.14.18, 10:02
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