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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – President Donald Trump’s decision to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel and move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv has been met with celebration and fear by many of the Jewish faith in South Florida.
Home to Jews, Christians and Muslims, the Holy City has long been the seat of the Israeli state but the U.S. has never had an embassy there. Jewish leaders say President Trump is making good on one of his campaign promises.
“It is the most logical thing. Every American president has said they would do it. None of them has done it. He is doing it,” said Rabbi Marvin Heir with the Simon Rosenthal Center.
At Miami International Airport, passengers arriving on a flight from Israel applauded the president for what they said was his courage.
“It should have been done many years ago. I don’t think we should be frightened because of the Muslims. We don’t have to be intimidated,” said Ami Benyacov.
While there is strong support from the Jewish community, there are questions about the timing.
“I think some historical context is in order and this is really righting a historic wrong,” said Jacob Solomon, president of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. “Right now what we are concerned about is overreaction and we don’t want to see violence.”
Florida International University historian Dr. Tudor Parfitt fears the president is inviting trouble.
“There clearly are good reasons for doing it, but the timing is, I think, catastrophic,” he said. “What’s going to happen is, there will be blood on the streets of the Middle East. People will be killed.”
The U.S.’s Arab allies have cautioned the president against what could be a provocative move, one that could destroy any hopes of peace in the Middle East. They also wonder what the president’s endgame is?
“I think the president will be hard-pressed to give us a logical explanation of what the goal is here,” said Omar Saleh with the Council on American Islamic Relations.
That explanation could come Wednesday afternoon when President Bush addresses the nation on his vision for the Mideast.
As a precaution, the State Department issued an alert saying U.S. government employees and their families are not permitted to travel to the Old City of Jerusalem and the West Bank until further notice.