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Political firestorm on Jerusalem.

US President Donald Trump is sui generis as a leader. To me, he is an enigma, a good specimen for a psychological personality study. He is not the typical leader who is deliberate, cautious, diplomatic and courts popularity, but one with a devil-may-care attitude, often abrasive, and reckless in his decisions and choice of words. The conventional portrayal of a leader is one who pursues peace and even goes the proverbial extra mile to contribute to world peace and stability. But Trump does the opposite-a warped kind of leadership. Maybe, like President Duterte, he thrives in and is in his best elements when immersed in controversy.

Trump dropped a bombshell when he announced US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Take note, reader: It did not come from Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, who knows the repercussions of such an announcement, the Jerusalem issue being a gravamen of the Palestinian question. What compelled the leader of the free world to make such a unilateral and provocative move? Is he so naive to think that US might and power will silence the Muslim and Arab world into acceptance? In one fell swoop he squandered all the goodwill that past US leaders had laboriously cultivated with Muslims.

Expectedly, worldwide condemnation was triggered, coming not only from Muslim countries but also Christian states, especially in Europe. As of this writing only the beneficiary of the decision, Israel, has showed support. The World Muslim League (the Arab equivalent of the United Nations) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) convened to address the issue. In the OIC, its chair, Turkish President Recep Erdogan, had a mouthful for Trump; a resolution was also passed demanding that the United States recall its announcement; disqualifying the United States as a peace mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; renewing support for the Palestinian cause; and declaring Jerusalem the historical and legal capital of Palestine.

Protests by Palestinians were sparked, marked by deaths and injuries.

In the Philippines, in a show of oneness with Umayyah Islamia, Muslims held a demonstration near the US Embassy. They heaved a collective sigh of relief upon learning from media reports that the Philippines would not join the United States in the latter's position. For a while they were profoundly alarmed by a report that the Philippines was considering toeing the US line and would transfer the Philippine Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It would have aggravated the spiritual conditions of the Islamic devotees of Marawi, who are still wallowing in the quagmire of despair and hopelessness in evacuation centers.

Jerusalem is home to the holy shrines and relics of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. It is the seat of the Afsa Mosque, the third holiest mosque of Muslims after the Haram and Nabawe, which Muslims believe was the staging point for the ascension of the Prophet Mohammad PUBH to heaven upon being summoned by Allah SWT. Muslims are obligated to visit these holy mosques. Imagine the anxiety of Muslims visiting the Afsa in the capital of a Zionist state.

When I was serving as the Philippine ambassador to Egypt, I brought my family to nearby Jerusalem in Christmas 1999, and there we saw how believers of diverse religions lived harmoniously. A few yards from the Afsa, on a narrow path, I noticed a sign pointing out the birthplace of Holy Mary. The strong message it brings is that there is so much in common between Islam and Christianity, with only a thin line dividing them (like the belief in the Holy Trinity).

In the face of present-day threats from faith-based extremists, let us fight shoulder to shoulder as brothers. After all, we accept the Prophet Abraham as our common ancestor.

Macabangkit B. Lanto (amb_mac_lanto@, UP Law 1967, was a Fulbright fellow in New York University for his postgraduate studies. He has served the government as congressman, ambassador, and undersecretary, among other positions.
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:7ISRA
Date:Dec 22, 2017
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