The United Nations General Assembly isn't alone in its lack of support for the Trump administration's decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
On Thursday, the body overwhelmingly rejected the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The move is a rebuke of the administration's decision that many have warned could undermine the peace negotiations Trump promised during his presidential campaign.
But some of the most vocal critics are closer to the issue.
Only 16 percent of Jewish Americans support moving the embassy to Jerusalem immediately, according to AJC’s 2017 Survey of American Jewish Opinion. Slightly more than a third — 36 percent — favor moving it “at a later date in conjunction with progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.” But a plurality — 44 percent — disagree with moving the embassy all together.
Nearly 170 Jewish studies scholars from American colleges and universities signed a statement expressing “dismay” at Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital:
“Jerusalem is of immense religious and thus emotional significance to Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike. It is the focus of national aspirations for both Israelis and Palestinians. We hope one day to see a world in which all inhabitants of the land enjoy equal access to the city’s cultural and material resources. Today, unfortunately, that is not the case.
A declaration from the United States government that appears to endorse sole Jewish proprietorship over Jerusalem adds insult to ongoing injury and is practically guaranteed to fan the flames of violence. We therefore call on the U.S. government to take immediate steps to de-escalate the tensions resulting from the President’s declaration and to clarify Palestinians’ legitimate stake in the future of Jerusalem.”
And Sen. Bernie Sanders (I.-Vt.), who is Jewish, criticized Trump's plan, warning it could irreparably damage peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinians.
But low support for Trump's policy decisions among Jewish Americans is not new. In the 2016 presidential election, the overwhelming majority — 71 percent — of Jewish Americans voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, according to Washington Post exit polls.
The AJC poll continues to reflect that, with 77 percent of the respondents saying they had an unfavorable opinion of Trump's presidency and only 22 percent identifying themselves as conservatives or leaning to the right.
However, another influential faith community supports Trump's decision: evangelicals.
A recent Brookings Institution poll said the majority — 53 percent — of American evangelicals supported Trump’s decision to move the embassy.
The support behind the decision may be because some evangelicals believe that God made a covenant with the Jewish people promising them Israel, including Jerusalem (and the Palestinian territories), Brandeis University Israel studies fellow Walker Robins wrote for The Post.
“But it’s not just about theology. Several less obvious historical geopolitical factors also play a role in their calculations. Many American Christian Zionists believe Israel to be an essential ally in a Judeo-Christian civilization struggle — or even holy war — against radical Islam.
For decades, evangelical supporters of Israel have argued that the United States and Israel are on the same side of fundamental global divides.”
White evangelicals are the religious group that supports Trump at the highest rate, and he won their support during the 2016 campaign in part by promoting pro-Israel policies.
Palestinian Christians argue that Christian evangelicals’ support of Israel doesn’t take into consideration the rights and needs of Christians in the homeland of their religion.
“This is where it all started,” said the Rev. Mitri Raheb, a Lutheran pastor in Bethlehem. “The Bible originated in Palestine, not in the Bible Belt, but people in the Bible Belt read the Bible in a way that really makes our lives difficult.”
Trump often speaks as if his decision was an obvious one to make, but time will tell whether it will actually moves the region closer to negotiating a peace agreement, or if it ended up making one of the most religiously diverse areas that much more chaotic.