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OU students, faculty protest Trump's declaration of Jerusalem as Israeli capital

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Students gather on the South Oval on Dec. 6 to protest President Trump's recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Students and faculty members walked up and down the South Oval Dec. 6 to protest President Donald Trump's declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

As the OU protest was occurring in the afternoon, Trump officially declared Jerusalem the capital during a speech at the White House, according to The New York Times. This will move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which Palestine also claims as its capital.

The protest was initially organized by OU group Students for Justice in Palestine, but since student groups are not allowed to host events during dead week, they held the protest as a group of "concerned students" instead, chemical biosciences sophomore Nazha Diwan said.

Protestors walked up and down the South Oval several times, handed out flyers, chanted and held signs and flags. 

Emad Ramadan, a chemical engineering senior who grew up in Palestine, said Jerusalem is sacred for Christians, Jews and Muslims, and moving the U.S. Embassy there will lead to segregation. He said while he wished more students would have attended the protest, he was thankful for those who did.

"At least we helped spread the word — that's the most important thing," Ramadan said.

Alan Levenson, director of OU's Schusterman Center for Judaic and Israel Studies, said from an Israeli point of view, Jerusalem is already Israel’s capital, but that does not mean Israelis are necessarily pleased with Trump's announcement. He said that increased agitation in the region is a "definite possibility" after Trump’s decision.

However, Levenson said he has problems with Students for Justice in Palestine's history and national website because he thinks it is inflammatory and lacks context. He said he thinks the protest is counterproductive.

"I think people would be better served to listening to a lecture on the subject from somebody who really knows what they're talking about," Levenson said. "... In my opinion, that's the kind of thing that is the core mission of the university, is to treat these manners in an academically well-balanced action. And the people most of all capable of doing that are the people who teach here."

Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital received praise from both Oklahoma senators. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) announced his support in a press release Dec. 6.

"Israel is not the problem in the Middle East, it is part of the solution," Lankford said. "Nothing about today’s announcement will impact America’s commitment to honor any solution which brings about peace resulting from direct talks between the Israelis and Palestinians."

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) also said in a press release he applauds Trump’s announcement, which he said was prompted by legislation that he co-sponsored.

“For over two decades, presidents of both parties have delayed the implementation of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, leading to confusion about U.S. policy and preventing meaningful progress to forming a lasting peace,” Inhofe said. “With his clear commitment to Israel, President Trump is once again showing the world he’s prepared to take decisive action and restore the United States to being the undisputed leader of the free world.”

Hannah Pike is a professional writing and economics senior. She is a freelance reporter, who was previously a senior news reporter covering the administration. Last summer, she interned on the business desk for The Oklahoman.

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