The announcement by President Trump last Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and declaring the intent to move the United States embassy to that city at a future date has generated significant concern among members of the Jewish Christian Muslim Dialogue of Southern New Jersey (JCM Dialogue SNJ). Our discussion of this action has revealed a variety of opinions within our group.
As a community group of Christians, Muslims and Jews, we come from different faith traditions and even different variations within those three major groups. We also have different political perspectives and are, by definition, a non-partisan organization. In keeping with our mission, we respect those differences but strive to find common ground by engaging in honest dialogue. In some areas, such as the emotional topic of Jerusalem, this is more difficult than other topics, but we remain committed to a civil and respectful exchange of ideas on all matters of concern. Therefore, despite our differences, we have decided to begin our dialogue by expressing our common beliefs on the subject of Jerusalem and the conflict in the Middle East:
- Jerusalem is unique; it is a city that is holy to all three of our faiths. Whatever the final political status of Jerusalem as a result of negotiations among the affected parties, it is imperative that Muslims, Jews and Christians retain full and unimpeded access to their holy sites in that city.
- The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians must be resolved by good faith negotiations between the parties in a way that recognizes and protects the national aspirations of both the Jewish and Palestinian peoples.
- Through the years, members of our three faiths have been victims of terrorist violence, in the Middle East and elsewhere. We continue to condemn terrorism—defined as the deliberate targeting of civilians to advance a political, social or religious agenda—based on our firm belief that terrorism is contrary to the core tenets of each of our three faiths. The way to resolve the conflict in the Middle East is through peaceful means, and we urge all political and religious leaders to stop any incitement to commit acts of violence in response to the United States’ recent action.