The Jerusalem Passport Dispute

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None of the news articles mention that Naomi (Siegman) Zivotofsky and Alyza Lewin were college friends and classmates, part of an overachieving cadre that also included the Shalem Center’s Yoram & Yael (Julie) Hazony, Dan Polisar, and Evelyn Gordon (who has also written for the JPost, Commentary magazine and others). [I would mention more, but I’m sure I’ll forget someone.] So the Zivotofsky’s didn’t need much help getting the attention of the nation’s “go-to” legal team for representation on Jewish issues. But they are involved in a very high-profile dispute with the U.S. State Department, and major Jewish organizations are lining up to file briefs in support of the Zivotofsky case with the Supreme Court.

At issue is the right of Naomi Zivotofsky to insist that the American passport she requested for her son Menachem from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv list “Israel” as his place of birth. He was born in Jerusalem in October 2002, about three weeks after President George W. Bush signed a bill directing the State Department to list “Israel” on the passports of American children born in Jerusalem if their parents requested it.

For more details, see the Brief for the Petitioner.

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Lawrence M. Reisman
4 years 24 days ago

Actually, this is nothing new. In 1947, the UN decided that Jerusalem was to be an international city under UN jurisdiction. During the 1948 war, Israel tried to occupy the entire city, but was thrown out of the eastern half by Jordan. After 1948, Israel occupied the western part and Jordan the eastern part, and neither occpuation was recognized as valid by the international community. (This is why all but 2 foreign embassies are located in Tel Aviv, and why we can make a big stink of how only Great Britain and Pakistan recognized the Jordanian occupation of the west bank.) The US position that Jerualem is not part of Israel is just part and parcel of this policy. It would seem that there would have to be a treaty between all parties involved formally giving Israel the right to its capital. The only historical precedent is the case of Petersburg, which was built as the Russian capital while still technically Swedish territory. Foreign embassies moved from Moscow only after the treaty of Nystaad formally recognized Russian sovereignty. What is interesting is that the PA is claiming eastern Jerusalem for its capital. Now how is the UN(and the international comunity) going to justify that when it is holding Israel to the details of the 1947 partition plan ?

Nachum
4 years 25 days ago

“Many Americans living in Israel for decades are not Isaeli citizens and they renounce their children’s Israeli citizenship at birth.”

Whether or not the rest of what you say is correct- and I still don’t think so- that one sentence is truly horrible.

Shonnie
4 years 25 days ago

L Oberstein

I am not angry. I simply pointed out that you should not be criticizing Israeli laws. If you don’t like the country, don’t come. Why do you assume you have the “right” to learn in yeshiva? You have a right to come here to live and be a citizen. Not a right to visit and leave. To sit in America and slander Israeli laws sounds like loshen hara to me.

They want to draft your grandson into the army because they need people to defend this land so you can come visit. He has no less a moral obligation to defend the land of the Jewish people than my grandson who lives in Jerusalem does.

You paid for a private doctor for the birth, did you pay for the nursing care the newborn received? But anyway, enjoy your life as Americans.

L. Oberstein
4 years 26 days ago

Shonnie, I honestly have no idea why you are so angry. Actually, we were in Israel because my wife and I were students. She gave birth the evening after she finished her final exams. Our child was delivered by Dr. Abulafia at Shaarei Zedek and we paid for a private doctor. We registered her birth within days at the US Consulate in East Jerusalem and her passport says Jerusalem as her country of birth. My point was that after numerous visits with no questions, several years ago they changed the policy and made it nearly impossible to do anything about it. My daughter tried to follow all of the rules, but the Israelis kept coming up with new impediments. If they want my daughter to be a citizen, that is one thing. But, they also insist that children of one Israeli parent born abroad are also Israelis and have to go through almost an impossible amount of hurdles to renounce Israeli citizenship. Why should Israel want to draft my grandson in the Army if he visits the country or learns in a yeshiva there, because his mother was born there and lived there for less than a month? Why is raising this point lashon harah? Many Americans living in Israel for decades are not Isaeli citizens and they renounce their children’s Israeli citizenship at birth. No one dreamed that was an option 40 years ago. To go back 40 years and make Israelis out of American born children is silly.

Raymond
4 years 27 days ago

Somehow I am not surprised that something like this happened under the present Obama administration, which after all is more hostile to the Jewish State of Israel than any President since the notorious antisemite, Jimmy Carter.