So, hold on here.
If you are an American citizen born in or living in Washington, D.C., when it comes time to travel overseas, your passport would list you as a citizen of the United States of America.
But if you are an American born in Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel, your passport doesn’t list you as a citizen of Israel?
In the recent Supreme Court case of Zivotofsky v. Kerry, the Justices emerged with a 6-3 decision upholding the U.S. State Department’s policy of not permitting Americans born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their birthplace. Menachem Zivotofsky is the 12-year-old American at the center of this case.
The High Court overturned the 2002 law passed by Congress requiring the State Department to list Israel as a birth country for Jewish-born Americans upon request. And one can’t help feel the irony that the Court’s three Jewish members, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan voted with the liberal majority. The Executive branch was seen as the winner here, claiming that recognition of another nation’s control over territory was exclusively within its portfolio.
The American Jewish Committee’s general counsel Marc Stern called this decision “as good a defeat as we could have suffered.”
Chief Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was writing for the majority, began by describing Jerusalem as a “delicate subject.”
Jerusalem has been home to and holy capitol of the Jewish people for over 3,700 years, with many other conquering groups coming and going through history. Yet the Jewish people have been the one constant over the years.
The District of Columbia became the Capitol of the U.S. July 16, 1790. So for 225 years, people born there can be considered Americans. Let’s see….225 years vs. 3700 years?
The issue of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is nothing new. Presidents Obama and those before him just do not want to inflame the sensitivities of the Arab countries and Islam over the city that holds the Al Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third most holy religious site behind Mecca and Medina. Yet for the Jews, there’s never been any place as holy as Jerusalem.
If anything is positive here, we think that Congress is of a mind to make sure its many voices resonate on the matter of Jerusalem, and its voices should be heard alongside the one coming from the White House.
Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. It belongs on the passports of Americans born there.