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December 23, 2016

JCRC Statement on Moving U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and Comments of Ambassador-designate David Friedman

Minneapolis, MN – Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), issued the following statement:

"The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC) strongly supports President-elect Donald Trump's decision to implement the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 ("the Act"), a bi-partisan measure to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel's capital in Jerusalem.

"The timing of such a move is propitious with the approaching 50th anniversary of the Six Day War and a welcome response to the UNESCO Resolution denying the ancient Jewish and Christian connection to Jerusalem.

"As clearly stated by the Act, '[e]ach sovereign nation, under international law and custom, may designate its own capital [and] [s]ince 1950, the city of Jerusalem has been the capital of the State of Israel.' The Act also correctly notes that '[t]he city of Jerusalem is the spiritual center of Judaism, and is also considered a holy city by the members of other religious faiths.' Indeed, since 1967 and the unification of Jerusalem, Israel has assiduously assured freedom of religious expression and observance and access to holy places for Christians, Muslims and Jews alike.

"While the JCRC remains deeply committed to a two-state solution, which necessarily entails difficult negotiations, the fact that Jerusalem is Israel's capital is not debatable. We therefore support President-elect Trump's intention to recognize this reality and fulfill the requirements of the bipartisan Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. "At the same time that we support President-elect Trump's commitment to moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the JCRC is deeply troubled by statements made by the Ambassador-designate to Israel, David Friedman.

"In a commentary piece appearing in Arutz Sheva, the Ambassador-designate refers to certain members of the Jewish community who object to the expansion of settlements in the West Bank as 'worse than Kapos' or 'not Jewish.'

"We should all take care--particularly diplomats serving in a country of hundreds of thousands of Holocaust survivors--to avoid invoking Holocaust comparisons except when keenly appropriate and certainly not in the rhetorical service of maligning other Jews.

"Elie Wiesel, z"l, taught that 'every moment is a new beginning.' Rabbi Joseph Telushkin explains, 'the obligation to act with courtesy and civility toward others originated with Adam and the creation of humanity.' There is much wisdom in both these teachings.

"For our part, the JCRC remains committed to fostering a respectful dialogue among all of k'lal yisrael (the Jewish community) regardless of the divergent views and political opinions held by different members of our community."

As the public affairs voice of the Jewish community, the JCRC fights anti-Semitism and prejudice, advocates for Israel, provides Holocaust education, promotes tolerance and social justice, and builds bridges across the Jewish and broader communities.