Jewish, Christian and Muslim residents of Jerusalem on Sunday said they were not remotely surprised that President Donald Trump did not follow through on his pledge to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem, yet overwhelmingly remained supportive of him.
Despite repeated and strongly worded assurances by Trump during his campaign that the relocation of the embassy would be inevitable under his administration, people in Zion Square noted that such rhetoric by presidential candidates is common, and should not be taken literally.
While Mordechai Frizis, a 39-year-old rabbi and teacher, said he was disappointed by the decision, he added that the onus for the broken promise should not fall squarely on Trump’s shoulders.
“As a Jew, I think this was a bad decision, but I have to say that our problem is bigger than Trump,” he said. “First, we have to make it clear to all the other nations that Jerusalem is our capital, and to do that our politicians on the Left must agree that it is the undivided capital of Israel.”
Frizis continued: “Until we show the world that we agree this is our undivided capital, we cannot expect Trump to convince them and move the embassy.”
Christian-Arab resident Moshe Malouf, 18, from the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, said the relocation was of little consequence to him, but that he nonetheless fully supports Trump.
“I love Trump and am a big fan of the United States, so I am not disappointed by this, because he is good for the Christians and the Jews,” he said. “He is a good man and a man of his word, so I am not sure why he didn’t move the embassy.”
Malouf’s friend, Adrian Kasem, 17, also from the Muslim Quarter, said if the US Embassy is relocated to Jerusalem, then an embassy should also be built in east Jerusalem.
“If there is one in the west, then there should be one in the east,” said Kasem. “But I really don’t care if it happens.
“I still love this president because he’s a good guy,” he added.
Julie, a 29-year-old Jewish engineer who requested her last name not be published, was less sanguine about Trump.
“I’m not surprised, because this has been a campaign promise before by other presidential candidates, and it’s a big deal to make that decision,” she said. “I think that Trump is a different kind of candidate and president, but I didn’t believe his promises about the embassy. I don’t put any more stock in him than [in] anyone else.”
US resident Stephen Schloss, an octogenarian financial adviser from Beverly Hills visiting his family to welcome his first great-grandchild, said he is also unsurprised.
“I care about the issue, but am not surprised,” said Schloss.
“A number of presidents and members of the State Department made similar promises and didn’t follow through, but I think that Donald Trump has very good intentions for Israel, and is looking to do what is possible.
“In practical terms,” he continued, “the capital is here and anybody who wants to do business with the government of Israel has to come to Jerusalem.
In German, there is an old expression about actuality versus appearance, so the essence is that the capital is here.”
Liza Aizenberg, a 29-year-old bookstore cashier studying for her master’s degree in Jewish history, said that while the embassy relocation is important to reinforce that Jerusalem is Israel’s eternal capital, she too is not surprised by the outcome.
“It matters because once the US moves the embassy here, it will show the world that Jerusalem is officially Israel’s capital, but I’m not shocked because I didn’t think he would really do it,” she said.
“Maybe he [intended] to do it, but once he became president and started trying to renew negotiations with the Palestinians, he saw that it was not practical. I’m disappointed because I believed him after promising so many times, but ultimately it is up to the Israelis and Palestinians more than him.”
Meanwhile, Baruch, an 80-year-old retired boat mechanic, who asked that his last name not be published, said he is not holding his breath.
“I will wait to see what he does, not what he says,” he said.