“But today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.” – U.S. President Donald Trump (December 6, 2017) 
On December 6, 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump made the very controversial announcement that his administration was authorizing the moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem from its previous base in Tel Aviv. 
The announcement was the latest outrage generated by the divisive Head of State. Though welcomed by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian leaders interpreted the move as a declaration of American abandoning any pretense of playing an honest broker role in settling the Middle East conflict. Protests would erupt in the Gaza strip. The U.N. General Assembly voted on December 21st to condemn US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In spite of U.S. efforts to bully member nations into compliance with their position, the final vote was 128 nations in favour and nine votes against with 35 abstentions. 
The U.S. position contributed to the recent spate of violence along the Gaza border which saw Israeli Defense forces firing on unarmed protesters, leaving over 140 Palestinians dead. 
Recognizing that the Middle East Peace Process, and the U.S. role in that process may have undergone a fundamental re-visioning, organizers in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada decided to stage a public discussion at the University of Winnipeg, entitled My Jerusalem: Responding to the U.S. Embassy Announcement. The aim was to examine some of the historical background of the Holy City, and its significance to representatives of the three major Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Islam and Christianity, which trace their spiritual lineage to this special place.
The discussion was held February 28th, 2018 at the U of W’s Eckhardt-Grammattee Hall. Sponsors included the Canadian Arab Association of Manitoba, Global College – University of Winnipeg, Independent Jewish Voices – Winnipeg, Mennonite Central Committee – Manitoba, Mennonite Church Manitoba Working Group on Palestine and Israel, Peace Alliance Winnipeg, United Church Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario, United Jewish Peoples Order – Winnipeg, and United Network for Justice & Peace in Palestine & Israel.
The evening featured a historical breakdown of the Jerusalem and its place in Palestine from pre-World War I to the present. Panelists Rabbi David Mivasair, Idris Elbakri, and Fadi Ennab spoke in turn. A Question and Answer engagement followed.
Esther Epp-Thiessen is the Public Engagement Coordinator for the Mennonite Central Committee Ottawa Advocacy Office. Esther is a longtime staffperson with Mennonite Central Committee, and has served with MCC in the Philippines and also in various parts of Canada. As the public engagement coordinator for MCC’s advocacy office she has helped to spearhead a campaign on Palestine and Israel called A Cry for Home. She is a trained historian and has written several books on themes in Mennonite history.
Rabbi David Mivasair is motivated by the Biblical command to “seek peace and pursue it” and lived in Jerusalem for four years. He is active with Independent Jewish Voices in Canada, sits on the Rabbinic council of Jewish voices for Peace in the US, and is Rabbi Emeritus of the Ahavat Olam Synagogue in Vancouver where he lives.
Idris Elbakri was born in the city of Jerusalem and spent his formative years there, he has lived in Winnipeg for nearly 13 years and been active in a number of community initiatives including grassroots efforts to welcome Syrian refugees.
Fadi Ennab is a lecturer and educator on migration and anti-oppression and is a Palestinian-Canadian from an Arab-Christian background born and raised in the Middle East.
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Harriett Alexander (December 21, 2017), ‘Donald Trump’s decision on Jerusalem condemned by UN general assembly despite US ‘bullying’ over vote of censure’, The Telegraph; https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/12/21/donald-trumps-decision-jerusalem-condemned-un-general-assembly/
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