President Trump recently announced his plan to relocate the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by May, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Jerusalem is one of the holiest cities in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Many people believe the city should not be owned by one religion nor one country.
People are worried that Trump’s decision will negatively affect the relationships among Christians, Muslims, and Jews, because Israel is a Jewish state.
Fahkreya Manassra, a senior at Kensington Health Sciences Academy, has lived in Palestinian areas for roughly three years at different times in her life, but Israel’s government does not permit Palestinian citizens to enter Jerusalem without legal documents.
“I have never been able to step foot in [Jerusalem],” Manassra said.
She fears the United States’ recognizing Jerusalem as the Jewish state’s capital will further tighten these restrictions, making it harder for Palestinian Muslims and Palestinian Christians to access Jerusalem.
“Not being able to enter Jerusalem makes me feel like I’m not able to fulfill my religion and enter the mosque my prophet was in,” she said.
Reactions to the president’s decision were swift and far-reaching. In Philadelphia, New York, Washington, and in Palestinian areas, there were waves of protest.
“[Trump] spoke about the Jewish connection to Jerusalem while negating the Christian and Muslim connection to the land and to the holy city,” Osama Abu Irshaid, national policy director of American Muslims for Palestine, said at a recent news conference, according to National Public Radio. His organization educates people about Palestinians’ history and culture.
Conservative Jews, on the other hand, see Trump’s decision as a move that “reinforces Israel’s claim on Jerusalem,” said David Fischer, a teacher at William W. Bodine High School for International Affairs.
Manassra does not understand how Trump’s declaration will resolve the conflict and establish peace between Palestinian Muslims and Israeli Jews over ownership of Jerusalem.
“How is turning Jerusalem the capital, the one [city] that Palestinians hold most to their hearts, over to Israel making peace between us?” the student said.
Palestinian diplomat Saeb Erekat shares that sentiment.
“Those who say that Jerusalem is off the table are saying that peace is off the table,” Erekat said in a statement, according to Israeli media. “The holy city is in the hearts of each and every Palestinian, Arab, Christian, and Muslim, and there will be no peace without East Jerusalem being the sovereign capital of the State of Palestine.”
Although the decision may also restrict Christians from entering Jerusalem, history teacher Bartholomew Poindexter at Bodine High School said, “Some Christians, they see this as a first step towards fulfilling the prophecy.” Christians believe this is one of the events that needs to occur, followed by the rebuilding of the Temple, for Jesus Christ to return to where he had his execution and resurrection.
Michael Schieber, a teacher and athletic director at Bodine High School, said, “As a person that doesn’t directly [subscribe] to any set religion, I do wish that those religions would use a place like Jerusalem to come together and find the commonalities among their religions instead of using it as a space of division.”
As the uproar over Trump’s decision continues, this issue is relevant to Schieber and other individuals without a religious connection to the holy city, he said, because of “the violence and lack of humanity we people have had towards each other while fighting over the land.”