Progressive U.S. Jews Slam Trump Over Jerusalem Move, Warn of 'Destructive Consequences'

Jewish American groups blamed the president of ignorance and of 'irresponsible' decision-making, warning of the potentially negative outcomes of an embassy move

View of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem's Old City
THOMAS COEX/AFP

Jewish groups in the U.S. expressed deep concern and dismay following Tuesday evening's announcement from U.S. President Donald Trump that he intends to move the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The Jewish Reform movement in the U.S. expressed its concern over Trump's expected change in U.S. policy on Jerusalem's Old City. Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, said on Wednesday that "President Trump's ill-timed, but expected, announcement affirms what the Reform Jewish Movement has long held: that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people and the State of Israel."

Jacobs contested that Reform Jews "cannot support his decision to begin preparing that move now, absent a comprehensive plan for a peace process."

"While the president took the right step in announcing that he would sign the waiver, as have his Republican and Democratic predecessors, the White House should not undermine these efforts by making unilateral decisions that are all but certain to exacerbate the conflict," he noted.

J Street, the U.S.-based, liberal advocacy group also opposed the move. President Jeremy Ben-Ami stated that "the effect of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem prior to a negotiated agreement will be to anger key Arab allies, foment regional instability and undermine nascent U.S. diplomatic efforts to resolve the larger conflict."

"The administration should also note that only a small minority of Jewish Americans – just 20 percent – support unilaterally moving the embassy," he added. "Moving the embassy or recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital could have destructive consequences for American allies in the region- in particular the kingdoms of Jordan and Saudi Arabia," he warned.

Left-wing activist organization Jewish Voice for Peace blasted Trump's reported decision as "an endorsement of Israel's annexation."

Rebecca Vilkomerson, the executive director of JVP, stated that "for 70 years, the US 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," she charged, "takes these ongoing policies to the next level and is reckless, irresponsible and endangers the lives of Palestinians and Israelis."

The American-based New Israel Fund also raised qualms over the potential dangers such moves could pose to Israelis and Jews in the Diaspora. CEO Daniel Sokatch stated that "President Trump many not understand what's at stake here, but we do. Moving the embassy risks igniting the tinderbox of anger, frustration and hopelessness that already exists in Jerusalem."

"Throwing.. balance off with this unilateral gesture could have grave consequences," he speculated.