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February 10, 2017

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PAGE 12A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 10, 2017 ill ~ .... ii¸ Hadas Parush/Flash90 During the Jewish holiday of Sukkot in October 2015, thousands of evangelical Christians wave Israeli, American and other national flags as they march in a Jerusalem parade as part of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem's Feast of Tabernacles festivities. ICEJ is among the pro-Israel Christian organizations that are rallying support for moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. By Sean Savage Aside from its centrality to Jewish peoplehood as the home of the ancient Jewish Temples and now the mod- ern state of Israel's capital, Jerusalem is also synony- mous with Judaism for many Bible-reading Christians• As such, prominent pro-Israel Christian organizations are lining up to express their support for President Donald Trump's promise to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and to hold the president account- able for his words. Susan Michael, U.S. di- rector for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICE J), said Christians already understand that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and would like to see the American gov- ernment follow suit. In fact, ICEJ has had its own "unof- ficial" embassy in Jerusalem since 1980, a point that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Ne- tanyahu noted in his 2016 Christmas address. "Hundreds of millions of Christians around the world understand from their Bible the spiritual significance of Jerusalem to the Jewish people, and that it was estab- lished as the capital of Israel some 3,000 years ago by King David," Michael told, adding that Christians "be- lieve the spiritual law of bless- ing established in Genesis 12 that God will bless those who bless the Jewish people... They want to see the U.S. standing in support of Israel and enjoy- ing the blessings of doing so." Matthew Staver, founder and chairman of the Liberty Counsel evangelical Christian organization and president of the Christians in Defense of Israel ministry, echoed Michael's assessment. "Support for Israel comes from both the Bible, which clearly establishes God gave the land of Israel to the Jews, and from history that confirms the continuity of the connection between Is- rael and the Jewish people," Staver told "To deny recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is anti- Semitic." David Brog, the found- ing executive director and currently a board member of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), which calls itself America's largest pro-Israel organization with more than 3.3 million members, told that many Christians who read the Bible "understand that Jerusalem is and has always been Israel's capital city, and they simply don't un- derstand why Israel should be the only nation on Earth where we do not place our embassy in the capital." "Support of Israel was one of the motivating factors in the historic evangelical voter turnout for President Trump in this past election," said Pas- tor Mario Bramnick, president of the Hispanic Israel Lead- ership Coalition, a leading pro-Israel Latino Christian initiative. "As evangelicals, we support President Trump's resolve in moving the U.S. em- bassy to Jerusalem. We believe that theland of Israel, with an undivided Jerusalem as its capital, was given by God to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by way of an eternal covenant and that no president, prime minister or monarch has any authority to take it away." 'Decades-long injustice' While the historic Jewish connection to Jerusalem is obvious to many evangelical Christians, ICEJ's Michael also explained that from a practical standpoint, pro- Israel Christians also feel the "need to right a decades-long injustice in U.S. policy." "Israel is the only country where the U.S. embassy is not located in the capital of that country. This is because the U.S. government does not even recognize west Jerusa- lem as being part of Israel, even though it is territory Israel has controlled since 1949," she said. Indeed, President Harry Truman instituted de facto recognition of Israel in May 1948 (de jure recognition of the Jewish state came in January 1949), but the U.S. has never recognized Israel's claims over Jerusalem. Those claims were limited to western Jerusalem until Israel reuni- fled the city, capturing the eastern portion from Jordan, in the 1967 Six-Day War. In the decades following Israel's extension of sovereignty over all of Jerusalem, the U.S. has held firm on refusing to recognize the city as the capital of Israel. Congress, however, has taken a different position. In 1995, Congress passed the Je- rusalem Embassy Act, which calls on the U.S. to move the embassy to Jerusalem and recognize the city as Israel's capital. But every sitting president since then has opted to sign successive six-month waivers delaying the move. Most recently, former Presi- dent Barack Obama signed the waiver in December, meaning President Trump will need to decide by June 1 between another waiver or an embassy move. As such, one proposal sug- gests that the U.S. relocate its embassy to western Jerusa- lem, which the international community widely accepts as being part of Israel in the present or under any future Israeli-Palestinian final status agreement. "Moving the embassy to west Jerusalem has no bearing on east Jerusalem, nor does it prejudice the outcome of eventual negotiations over the city's final status and borders, and therefore should happen forthwith," Michael said. At the same time, the U.S. already maintains a consulate in Jerusalem that serves the city as well as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It is one of two American consulates, the other being in Hong Kong, that report directly to the State Department rather than to a U.S. ambassador. Will Trump make the move? In the early days of Trump's presidency, his administra- tion has made conflicting statements as to when or if the U.S. embassywillbe relocated. White House Press Secre- tary Sean Spicer said Jan. 23 that "no decision" has been made on the move. "We're at the very early stages of that decision-mak- ing process," Spicer told reporters after being asked how the move would serve U.S. strategic issues. "It's very early in this process. [Trump's] team is going to continue to consult with [the] State [Department]." Spicer's comments came after he had said a day earlier that the U.S. was in the "very beginning stages" of discuss- ing the embassy move. At the same time, in an interview with Israel Hayom shortly be- fore taking office, Trump said he "did not forget" about his promise to move the embassy to Jerusalem, adding that "you know that I am not a person who breaks promises." Additionally, U.S. Ambassa- dor to Israel-designate David Friedman, who has yet to be confirmed by the Senate, announced that he intends to live in Jerusalem rather than the American ambas- sador's traditional residence in Herzliya. In February, Netanyahu is scheduled to meetwith Trump in Washington, D.C., where the leaders may discuss the issue of the embassy move, officials have said. "The decision to move the U.S. embassy should be the product of a net assessment of potential benefits versus potential risks," Robert Satl- off, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told JNS,org. "It is easy to focus on the hyperbolic threats of certain Middle East actors [who oppose the embassy move] without also factoring into the equation what moving the embassy might achieve--re- pairing an historic injustice, fixing the fact that America currently has representation in Jerusalem for the Palestin- ian Authority but none for Is- rael, and sending the message throughout the region that America fulfills its promises to allies," he said. Mobilizing Christian sup- port CUFI sent out a Jan. 22 ac- tion alert that called upon its members to email Trump, ask- ing him to keep his promise and move the embassy. "Thus far, more than 20,000 of our members have emailed the White House. They re- minded the president that America, the Congress and3.3 million members of CUFI are with him and that he should ignore the voices calling on him to break his promise," Brog said. During the 2016 election campaign, the ICEJ mobilized several hundred Christian leaders to speak out in favor of the embassy move. "The U.S. branch of the ICEJ wrote a letter to both presidential candidates before the election, signed by some 650 Christian leaders, encour- aging this move," Michael said. "We will do whatever is necessary in the coming months to encourage the ad- ministration and demonstrate the continued support of the American Christian commu- nity for this move." Michael believes that Trump should work closely with Israel and other regional U.S. allies to make sure the embassy move is carried out appropriately, to avoid vio- lence or diplomatic strains. "While we do encourage the U.S. administration to make this move as soon as possible, we caution that it must be done right," Michael said. "We understand that they (administration officials) need time to consult with Israel on various aspects of such a move. They should also use this opportunity to bolster regional relationships and influence by working out a plan ahead of time with key Arab leaders, as well as build a coalition of other countries that will follow the U.S. in moving their own embassy to Jerusalem." By Cnaan Liphshiz (JTA)--A year after they submitted their application for asylum in the United States, Shahi and his mother expected to be let in. As Iranian Jews who applied for asylum through a federally recognized agency for refugee status, their case was expected to be simple. Shahi (not his real name) is in his late 20s and already has two sisters waiting for him and their mother• As of now, mother and son are in a third transit country. But the lives of Shahi's fam- ily were plunged into further uncertainty on Friday when President Donald Trump signed an executive order sus- pending the admission of all refugees into the United States for four months. The or- der also imposes a 90-day ban on entryvisas to all citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries, including Iran. Too fearful to return to Iran, Shahi and his mother don't know whether they will be eligible to enter the United States in the foreseeable future• Trump is said to be mulling suspending indefi- nitely the intake of refugees from countries deemed "of concern." The family is also unsure how long the transit countrywill agree to continue hosting them while the U.S. is stalling their application. Shahi's relatives are among several Jewish families and several hundreds of non-Jew- ish ones handled by HIAS, the former Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, a 135-year-old Jewish agency that assists refugees and asylum seekers. The U.S.-based agency once focused on helping Jews flee persecution in Europe, but is now working mostly with non-Jews in 30 countries, and has been recognized for decades as an immigration facilitator by the Department of Justice. "There are hundreds and hundreds of people with approval notices who now can't come to the States," the group's CEO, Mark Hetfield, told JTA on Sunday. Of the approximate- ly 85,000 refugees admit- ted into the United States last year, HIAS was responsible for resettling 3,884--including 159 Jews, among them 89 from Iran and several others from Yemen. Hetfield said that some of the families processed by HIAS already received a refugee visa but were turned away at airports while trying to enter. "This inhumane act was done in the most inhumane way possible," he said, un- derlining the outrage that on Saturday brought thousands of people to protest the ex- ecutive order on refugees and Muslim countries at airports around the country Many Jews participated in the rally, and Jewish community groups have vocally opposed the executive order. On Saturday, a federal judge in Brooklyn issued a stay of removal for the estimated 100 to 200 people detained at American airports under Trump's order--some of them children and U.S. legal permanent residents. But that was only a par- tial victory for pro-refugee activists. A non-Jewish family of asy- lum seekers from Syria who, despite having obtained visas on Jan. 20 to enter the United States as refugees following a Homeland Security Depart- ment vetting, were turned back in Ukraine to their camp in Jordan on Jan. 27. Citing Trump's order, airline officials did not let the family--a mother and daughters aged 5 and 8--fly to the United States, Hetfield said. The mother and her daugh- ters are seeking to reunite with their father, who is already in Connecticut. They were let back into Jordan, "but in such cases, there is a risk that people who leave to become refugees in the United States will not be let back in, or worse," Hetfield added• The Zionist Organization of America was one of the few Jewish groups to enthusiasti- cally praise the executive or- der on refugees, hailing it for addressing "notable failings of the U.S. vetting process." "Deteriorating conditions in certain countries due to war, strife, disaster, and civil unrest increase the likelihood that terrorists will use any means possible to enter the United States," Trump's executive order on refugees states. While it acknowledges that security vetting for visa applicants was toughened following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the order says that the shutdown is necessary to carry out a review to make sure the current vetting tools can "determine that the individual seeking the benefit is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public-safety threat." But Hetfield says that the current vetting procedure is so stringent that "terrorists Limbo on page 15A