WOODBURY, Minn. (WCCO) –On the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence, a day of celebration was marked by a day of angry protests.

President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, praised America’s divisive decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol.

“While presidents before him have backed down from their pledge to move the American Embassy once they were in office, this president delivered,” he said.

The ceremonial relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was overshadowed by violence along the Gaza border.

Dramatic video shows tear gas and bullets raining down on Palestinian protesters. Health officials say more than 12,000 people have been hurt. At least 52 people died, marking the deadliest day since 2014.

Israeli forces are trying to stop them from breaking down a security fence. The relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv has infuriated Palestinians, who also claim Jerusalem as their capital.

This has been fought over for centuries.

In the Twin Cities, there are around 37,000 people who identify as Jewish. There are an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 who are from Palestine.

This is, of course, an international story, but it’s also deeply personal here, too.

Some 6,000 miles from Palestine is Woodbury. But both places are home to software manager Sameh Shabaneh.

“I was born six months after the Israeli occupation of the city,” he said.

His wife and children are visiting now Palestine now.

“I am extremely concerned about my family,” he said Monday. “We are observing the situation minute by minute.”

He’s also concerned about the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.

“Jerusalem to Palestinians is like water to fish,” he said. “We can’t live without it.”

Shabaneh says the turmoil the embassy move is causing is reversing the progress.

“It’s so simple, it’s not magic,” he said. “Just give the Palestinians their freedom and I think the conflict will be over.”

Across town, the Jewish Community Relations Council is reacting to what they call a complicated situation.

Ethan Roberts is the director of the Twin Cities Jewish Community Government Affairs Program.

“On one hand today is a historic day, it’s recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it’s been the functional capital of the state since 1950, it’s been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years,” he said. “Today is also a sad day, we’ve had scores of deaths on the Gaza border.”

Despite the sharp division, both men said they believe peace is possible.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

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