US Embassy to Israel-location-and Middle East Peace Process

Date: Tue, 24 Jun 97 16:20:36


The following letter was sent with minor variations to Senator Carl Levin and Senator Spencer Abraham, both of Michigan, as well.

The Hon. Lynn Rivers US House of Representatives

1724 Longworth House Office Bldg.

Washington, DC. 20515

Dear Representative Rivers:

This letter concerns the Middle East peace process and, in particular, the status of Jerusalem with reference to the June 10 House vote on moving the US Embassy to that city.

I am currently the Senior Pastor at Zion Lutheran Church, Ann Arbor. I began my career as Pastor to the English Lutheran Congregation in the Old City, Jerusalem, 1970-71. Since then, I have maintained contact with our ministries among the Palestinian Arabs and with East Jerusalem business leaders. I have lead 13 tour groups to the Middle East.

I do not know how you voted on the June 10 resolution, but I must plead with you to do whatever you can to stop this proposal to locate the Embassy in Jerusalem. As you know, no other countries in the world except one has an embassy in Jerusalem. The United Nations does not recognize the claim of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel because the status of the city has never been determined. To move the American Embassy there would deeply jeopardize a peace process which is already dead in the water. How transparently foolhardy can we be as a leading world government.

Locating our embassy in Jerusalem will send a signal to the Arab world, and the whole world, that we not only support Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem, but that we support uncritically the Likud agenda. Surely you know that King Hussein, Crown Prince Hassan, King Fahd and other Arab leaders who are our allies have decried and condemned our growing decision to move the embassy.

We are already suspect in the Middle East because of our veto in the United Nations on two occasions of resolutions against the Har Homa development. I was just in Jerusalem in late May. You should see the location of Har Homa on Jebel Abu Ghneim. It is obviously a geographically inspired military outpost disguised as a new neighborhood. No one would build an Israeli neighborhood in that isolated spot blocking Jerusalem from Bethlehem and the Judean wilderness except for strategic reasons to prevent access to East Jerusalem as an eventual capital for Palestine.

To add insult to injury we have vetoed United Nations action supporting reparations to be paid by Israel for their destruction of United Nations headquarters in southern Lebanon.

Are we interested in Middle Eastern peace? Or are we interested in PAC money from pro-Israeli lobbies?

I could clearly see on my recent visit the continued carving up of Jerusalem, the separating of neighborhoods, the encircling of the holy shrines and the Arab residents, the systematic attempts at depopulation of the Arab neighborhoods, the continued blocking of patients' access to our Lutheran hospital on the Mt. of Olives, tourist tunnels leading nowhere except close enough to taunt the Muslims on their holy shrine, the Haram esh-Sharif, "free Palestinian towns" beginning to look like South African bantustans.

I beg you to review the "Hearings and Markup" of the Subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East (House Foreign Affairs Committee) of the 98th Congress on H.R. 4877 and H.Con. Res. 352. The same legislation came to Congress in 1984. Please do not neglect the wisdom of past congresses that prevented moving our embassy to Jerusalem. It would be a grave mistake.

You have been sent a copy of a video entitled "Jerusalem: An Occupation Set in Stone." Please view it. Have your staff review it. You will see there how present Jerusalem policy by Israel alienates local Palestinian Arabs and undermines the peace process.

Should there be an opportunity for you and I to speak personally about these concerns, I would treasure that opportunity. You may know that the Friends of Sabeel organization is headquartered here in Ann Arbor. They, too, would treasure an opportunity to share views with you.

Yours truly,

A. Dale Truscott, Senior Pastor