President Donald Trump’s changing of U.S. policy in the Middle East stirred a political frenzy when it happened Dec. 5, but the Congressional Black Caucus, including its key members who deal with foreign policy, have yet to say anything about the administration’s controversial position.
Trump announced the U.S. was moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to the city of Jerusalem, which it declared the capital of Israel. The action sparked condemnation from world leaders, who said it would inflame tension among the Palestinians, who consider Jerusalem the future capital of an eventual Palestinian state, but not a word from the CBC.
Rep. John Lewis is a strong supporter of Israel but has yet to say anything about the Trump administration’s efforts to move the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)
“Congressman Lewis has not commented on this issue to date,” a spokesman for U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), one of Israel’s strongest supporters in the U.S. House of Representatives, told the AFRO. The statement from the Atlanta lawmaker’s said he will keep the AFRO informed when or if Lewis makes a statement on the issue.
Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) hasn’t issued a statement about the Jerusalem matter, either.
Since Israel’s inception in 1948, it has been the goal of many of the country’s leaders to make the whole city of Jerusalem its capital. However, conflicts with the Palestinians who reside in the city and Christian and Islamic leaders have made claim to Jerusalem as a historic and religious icon. They don’t want the city to be the exclusive jurisdiction of any state or religion.
Basically, the eastern part of the city is populated by Palestinians and the western part made up of Israelis, but it is an uneasy agreement. Wars and skirmishes have been fought over Jerusalem since Israel became a nation in 1948. Israel controls all of the city currently.
In 1995, the U.S. Congress passed the “Jerusalem Embassy Act” which recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel but every president since Bill Clinton has applied waivers to building a U.S. embassy there. The U.S. embassy is in Tel Aviv and it has a consulate in Jerusalem.
Trump’s declaration, as profound as it is, hasn’t attracted the attention of the Black members of the House Foreign Relations Committee.
“We haven’t put out a public statement yet,” a spokesperson for Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) said in an email.
Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) and Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) haven’t commented on the Trump move regarding Jerusalem, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who has in the past has viewed Israel favorably, has not responded to an AFRO inquiry about the Jerusalem matter. D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) hasn’t commented either despite the fact that she enjoys considerable Jewish support in the District of Columbia.
The only African American on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and there is no mention of the Jerusalem controversy on his web site and Twitter feed.
A former Black congressional staffer who has extensive experience with the Congressional Black Caucus told the AFRO on background that he isn’t surprised at the lack of response on the Jerusalem matter.
“I think members have strong opinions on this subject and they probably didn’t like the way Trump mishandled the announcement,” he said. “The declaration is an impediment to peace in the region.”
The former staffer said that the CBC’s plate has been busy with the “the resignation of John Conyers, the misguided policy of a tax plan that benefits the wealthy and the possibility of a government shutdown.”