Local Jewish, Arab organizations react to Jerusalem tension

Staff report


After President Donald Trump’s announcement Wednesday that the U.S. will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, protests erupted in the West Bank, injuring dozens, and leaders of Muslim-majority countries condemned the decision.

Locally, reactions are mixed.

Today, some members of the local Arab-American and Muslim communities will protest Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem.

The Arab American Community Center of Greater Youngstown organized the vigil/protest that will take place at 3:30 p.m. in front of the federal courthouse on Market Street.

Meanwhile, Bonnie Burdman, spokeswoman for the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation, spoke out against the violence occurring on the West Bank.

“Violence is never the way to resolve these complications, and it’s our hope that violence would cease immediately and negotiations could begin,” Burdman said.

Burdman, however, supported the president’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“That’s a welcome development because Jerusalem has always been and should always be the capital of Israel,” she said.

While the decision has sparked conflict, Burdman noted that Trump left all options on the table and the Jewish Federation supports a peaceful two-state solution to the conflict.

“We believe firmly that violence is not the way to get there,” she said.

Ray Nakley, spokesman for the Arab American Community Center, called Trump’s handling of the announcement “blunt, clumsy and undiplomatic.”

His organization supports allowing both Israel and Palestinians to identify Jerusalem as their capital, with Israel claiming the western part of the city and Palestinians the eastern part.

“Our position always has been that Jerusalem should be the capital of a Palestinian state, which most countries in the world recognize anyway. The issue really is not so much that Israel can’t have its capital in Jerusalem,” he said.

“The Palestinian position is very simple: Israel should have its capital in Jerusalem. Why shouldn’t we, the original inhabitants of the land, have our capital in East Jerusalem?” he said.

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