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The Jerusalem conundrum

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By Floro L. Mercene

What possible effect does Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel instead of Tel Aviv have on the Philippines and overseas Filipinos?

So far, Trump’s decision has been met with a chorus of condemnations from world leaders, including Pope Francis and the other European potentates.

French President Emmanuel Macron called the action an “unfortunate decision” and said, “France does not approve it.”

The common concern is that the USA’s foreign policy shift would anger the Palestinians and a wave of terror attacks would soon follow against the US.

This could in turn endanger many overseas migrant workers working in US-related facilities around the globe.

There are about 40,000 Filipinos in Israel and let us hope that their lives would not be in harm’s way.

Anyway, Tel Aviv is Israel’s second-largest city and most populous by far. Tel Aviv is the Silicon Valley of Israel and has been dubbed Silicon Wadi.

Jerusalem, on the other hand, is both claimed by Israelis and Palestinians as their capital. It is one of the oldest cities in the world.

Jerusalem is considered a holy city by the three major religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

The Jewish virtual library said the definite origin of the word Palestine has been debated for years but the name is believed to be derived from the Egyptian and Hebrew world word peleshet, roughly translated to mean rolling or migratory. The term was used to describe the inhabitants of the land to the northeast of Egypt, the Philistines.

After WW I, the name Palestine was applied to the territory that was placed under British Mandate; this area included not only present-day Israel but also present-day Jordan.

Since 1948, it was common for the international press to label Jews, not Arabs, living in the mandate as Palestinians.

Today, the status of Jerusalem remains one of the core issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The international community does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Jerusalem is also home to the Hebrew University and Israel Museum with its Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls.

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