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Professors Available on Trump Jerusalem Decision

6-Dec-2017 1:05 PM EST, by Northwestern University

Newswise — EVANSTON, Ill. --- President Trump is expected to make a major announcement about Jerusalem on Wednesday, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Northwestern University professors Wendy Pearlman, Elie Rekhess, Elizabeth Hurd and Eugene Kontorovich are available to comment.

Wendy Pearlman is an associate professor of political science in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University. Her areas of interest include comparative politics of the Middle East, social movements, conflict processes, the political effects of emigration, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Her most recent book “We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria,”(HarperCollins, June 2017) offers intimate stories and poetic fragments from a cross-section of Syrians whose lives have been transformed by revolution, war and flight. She can be reached atcell 857-222-8934 or

Quote from Professor Pearlman

“Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would yield zero benefits and could produce substantial harms — both in terms of immediate risk of violence and the long-term erosion of the United States’ credibility in the Middle East and in the world. Heads of state across the globe, and even the U.S.’s own State Department, warn of the dangerous consequences of such a move.

“For nearly a century, actions that appear to undermine Muslim and Arab claims to a share of Jerusalem and its holy sites have sparked violence, including life-claiming confrontations in 1929, 1996, 2000, and as recent as June 2017. Should Trump carry through with this decision, it will be in direct contradiction with his promise to lead serious peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, showing once again how the U.S. is not an honest broker in this conflict.”

Elie Rekhess, Crown visiting professor in Israel Studies and visiting professor in History at Northwestern University. He can be reached at

Quote from Professor Rekhess

“Israelis consider Jerusalem their historic and eternal capital dating back to Biblical times. Let’s see exactly what President Trump says in his statement on a possible change in U.S. policy toward Israel, but generally speaking, I think that a statement endorsing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will be well received in Israel,” said Elie Rekhess, Crown visiting professor in Israel Studies and visiting professor in History at Northwestern University. 

“The State of Israel declared Jerusalem as its capital after the establishment of the state. The fact that a world power like the United States officially endorses it will be very well received there. However, it is a disputed issue, and Israel is a very diverse society. Undoubtedly the Israeli secular and religious right will be celebrating, because there couldn’t be a stronger political statement to establish Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem — both parts, the one that has been held by Israel since 1948 and the one that has been annexed by Israel on June 30, 1967. 

“Others in Israel have mixed feelings regarding what is referred to as East Jerusalem,” he added. “They still believe in a two-state Jerusalem in which East Jerusalem might serve as a possible capital of a future Palestinian state and wish to leave this option open for peace negotiates to decide. So, even among Israel citizens there is a wide difference of opinion.

“In addition, there is apprehension in Israel about the response from Palestinians and the Arab world to the president’s intentions to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. People there are concerned this could lead to the eruption of violence and perhaps a third intifada, or uprising. People are concerned about this and the army is on alert. Some quarters in Israel are questioning the timing of such a potentially controversial decision.”

Elizabeth Shakman Hurd is a professor of political science in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern. Her areas of interest include international relations; religion and politics and politics of the Middle East. She can be reached at cell 847-903-9642 or (Today she is available only via phone or email.)

Quote from Professor Hurd

“This announcement affirms what those of us who watch this region have known for years, which is that the U.S. long ago abdicated its position as a fair broker in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead the U.S. has unilaterally and often unequivocally supported an expansionist right-wing Israeli agenda that seeks to dispossess the Palestinians if not deny their existence entirely. The only silver lining in this mess may be that this one-sidedness will finally become obvious to the rest of the world, and that as a result other power-brokers in or beyond the region will step up and speak out against this entrenched U.S.-Israeli partnership and in support of the rights of the Palestinian people.”

Eugene Kontorovich is a professor of law at Northwestern Pritkzer School of Law. An international law scholar, his research spans the fields of constitutional law, international law, and law and economics. His op-ed “Russia Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital. Why Can’t the U.S.?” was published in the Wall Street Journal in May. He can be reached at mobile: US cell 323.443.8591or He is currently in Jerusalem and available for interviews.

Quote from Professor Kontorovich

“This is a historic decision that will be remembered alongside the Balfour Declaration of 100 years ago. It rectifies a longstanding injustice, in which Israel’s capital was not even recognized as part of the country. It also breaks the dysfunctional international consensus that any Jewish presence in the Old City of Jerusalem is illegal and illegitimate. It makes UN Sec Res. 2344 a dead letter, and is the first international recognition of Israeli sovereignty across the Green Line. It is a complete game-changer, and a bold move that will likely be followed by other countries.”

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