CRC Leader Disconcerted by Jerusalem Declaration

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According to Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), the declaration by United States president Donald Trump that the U.S. will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a grave threat to future peace. The Christian Reformed Church is a partner member of CMEP.

Rev. Reginald Smith, director of the Christian Reformed Church’s Office of Social Justice and Office of Race Relations, said, “The president’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital is disconcerting. From the trip to the Middle East, I found grave problems with Israel’s relationship with our Palestinian brothers and sisters. The president’s move overshadows courageous efforts by Jews, Christians, and Muslims who are working for peaceful solutions in the region.”

Smith was referring to a recent trip he took to the Middle East with Rev. Shannon Jammal-Hollemans, racial justice team leader for the OSJ and RR, and Colin Watson, Sr., the CRC’s director of ministries and administration. Funded by a grant, they visited Egypt, Israel, the West Bank, and Lebanon. The group met with representatives of Churches for Middle East Peace, spoke with people in Israel and the West Bank, and met Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

“We continue to pray for peace and the wellbeing of all residents of the Middle East at this difficult time,” Watson said.

According to its literature, CMEP promotes a shared Jerusalem by Palestinians and Israelis and pursues an end to the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza. CMEP executive director Rev. Mae Elise Cannon said, “Rather than being a broker for peace, the U.S. will be undermining trust and making the resumption of meaningful negotiations and achieving a viable solution all the more difficult, if not impossible.”

CMEP, a coalition of 27 national church denominations and organizations, encourages U.S. policies that actively promote a comprehensive resolution to conflicts in the Middle East with a focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

About the Author

Gayla Postma retired as news editor for The Banner in 2020.

See comments (3)


Does the CRCNA really want to wade into today's longest, most instractible, most complicated -- in so many ways -- foreign affairs quagmire by opining about a single action taken by a president that past presidents and congress have said the US should take for decades now?

Really?  This isn't news really, but it is partisan, and politically fashionable -- at least if one is of a certain political bent.  Wisdom would suggest the CRCNA stay clear.  And if it can't see its way to staying clear, the CRCNA is really taking on a large committment, one that so far all the world's governments have not successfully taken on.

Anita Colman of Victoria, BC, in a recent letter to the editor of the Vancouver Sun, succinctly put the capital controversy in its proper perspective: “Not moving the US embassy to Jerusalem before did not help the peace prospects. An Arab wave of terror between 2016 and 2017 left more than 60 Israelis dead and more than 800 injured. The problem is that Palestinians refuse to accept Israel within any border and incite hatred against the Jews and terrorism in their leaders’ speeches, schools, media and mosques. Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is an affirmation of 3,000 years of Jewish history and a nation’s right to choose its capital. While there is a holy Muslim place in Jerusalem, Islam’s holiest cities are Medina and Mecca. Jerusalem is not once mentioned in the Qur’an, while it’s mentiond 700 times in the Jewish holy books. Only under the Israeli administration of Jerusalem have the rights of all faiths been protected. When Jerusalem was under Arab control, Jews and Christians were denied access to their holy sites. Today, Jews are not permitted to pray on their Temple Mount in East Jerusalem. Under Palestinian Authority, Christian churches, statues and cemeteries and the ancient tombs of Jewish patriarchs haE been desecrated. Christians have fled Bethlehem because of Muslim oppression. Appeasing Palestinians over Jerusalem will not bring peace, but instead reward violence.”

President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is the right move, at the right time. Israel has offered the Palestinians a state of their own, on 5 separate occasions, beginning with the offer arising from the British initiated Peel Commission in 1937. At that time, the Arabs were offered 80% of the disputed territory and Israel agreed to accept 20%. The Arabs said "no". On 4 separate occasions, since then, Israel has been in favour of agreements of various kinds. Each time, the Arabs have said "no". Israel has been attacked by warring Arab nations, by terrorist groups and through Intifadas. Neighbouring Arab nations simply do not want Israel to be there. Various PLO and related terrorist association covenants and charters continue to call for the destruction of Israel. Israel is no different than other nations: She has her sins both large and small. But, in any fair-minded assessment, these are absolutely out-weighed by Israel's commitment to Western values, including freedom, democracy, and human rights. I believe that President Trump knows what must be tried now, is to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, hoping the Palestinians wll finally accept the existence of a Jewish State. Without that, negotiations can only be a fruitless waste of time. I believe Israel is what's right with the Middle East and Israel should be strongly supported.. As a Canadian, I wish that Canada's government would also recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital - in a fashion similar to the recent decision communicated by President Trump.