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Jewish and Muslim leaders on LI react to Trump’s Jerusalem move

Nayyar Imam, head of the Selden-based Long Island

Nayyar Imam, head of the Selden-based Long Island Muslim Alliance, and Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum of Temple Israel of Lawrence. Credit: James Carbone; Danielle Finkelstein

Jewish leaders on Long Island were in agreement Wednesday that Jerusalem should be seen as the capital of Israel, but some worried about the implications of President Donald Trump’s announcement that the United States would formally embrace that position.

Muslim leaders, meanwhile, roundly condemned the move.

Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum of Temple Israel, a Conservative-leaning Reform synagogue in Lawrence, said Trump’s recognition was “an obvious statement of reality and truth that has defined the Jewish people and Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel for three millennia.

“Denying the reality that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel is the same as denying that Israel is a sovereign democratic Jewish state,” and without that “there can be no peace,” Rosenbaum said.

Rabbi Steven Moss of B’nai Israel Reform Temple in Oakdale said he was “very personally pleased of the recognition to the homeland of the Jewish people,” but he cautioned: “My concern is, will it set into motion other actions whose effects will be very detrimental to the state of Israel and peace in the Middle East?”

Muslim leaders on Long Island predicted Trump’s actions would fuel more upheaval in the Middle East.

“It’s a sad day for the whole world,” said Nayyar Imam, head of the Selden-based Long Island Muslim Alliance. “Everybody is saying this is not the right thing to do,” including the leaders of France and England, and Pope Francis.

“It will derail the peace process,” Imam said. “It will destroy it.”

Dr. Hafiz Rehman, a leader of the Masjid Darul Quran mosque in Bay Shore, warned of unrest by Muslims in the Middle East. “I would like to be wrong, but I think there is going to be trouble,” he said.

Rabbi Charles Klein of the Merrick Jewish Centre, a Conservative synagogue, said Trump’s move represents “the reality that the world needs to accept,” and he doubts it will undermine efforts to forge a lasting peace.

“We’ve had a peace process now for 25 years before today. Did the peace process move because the president of the United States didn’t recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel? I don’t see any forward movement,” Klein said.

Rabbi Beth Klafter of Temple Beth David, a Reform synagogue in Commack, said that “while in the long run I agree . . . Jerusalem should be considered the capital of the state of Israel, there are many steps that we need to go through to get there. And there is a reason that previous presidents haven’t made this move, because it needs to be done in a larger context of the peace process.”

Rabbi Tuvia Teldon, the Commack-based director of Chabad-Lubavitch, an Orthodox group, said: “I am very in favor of his move.”

Trump “basically said, ‘Listen, the time has come that we have to do the right thing, and we cannot be intimidated by the possibility that something might happen as a result,’ ” Teldon said. “Trump has made it clear that on anything that is based on intimidation concerning violence or terrorism, he is not going to bend.”

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