Is someone born in Jerusalem born in Israel? This question is the subject of a US Supreme Court case, to be heard in the coming weeks. Israeli-American parents of Menachem Zivotofsky, born in 2002 in Jerusalem, want his birthplace to be listed in his passport as Israel – however it is currently listed as Jerusalem. This is due to the dispute over Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967, which it considers part of the “undivided capital of the Jewish state,” but which the US and the rest of the world do not recognize.
Despite the fact that Congress passed legislation in 2002 (just before Menachem Zivotofsky was born) instructing the State Department to list Israel as the birthplace of those born in Jerusalem upon request, former President George W. Bush and President Obama have both disregarded the law, claiming it interferes with US foreign policy regarding Jerusalem, which has been the same for 44 years.
From a NYTimes article:
This fall, not long after Menachem turns 9, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in his case, which seeks to force the executive branch to follow the 2002 law. The case weaves together generations of conflict in the Middle East, the dueling roles of Congress and the president in the conduct of foreign affairs and the combustible topic of presidential signing statements.
According to the Forward (via JTA), Americans for Peace Now is the only American Jewish group to have publicly come out in support of the Obama Administration’s appeal to the Supreme Court not to allow registration of one’s birthplace in Jerusalem to be listed as Israel, due to its conflicted and unresolved status. The report also mentioned that 11 Jewish groups have publicly supported the parents’ claims, while the American Jewish Committee “has opted not to weigh in, in part because it does not regard the Supreme Court as the appropriate forum to decide foreign policy.”
This issue is just another reminder how difficult it is to see the US as an impartial and genuine broker of peace negotiations between Israeli and Palestinians: its own congress has gone against its foreign policy on one of the most contentious core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Jerusalem.