Today, despite innumerable speeches by Israeli politicians declaring Jerusalem to be the “eternal, undivided, united capital of Israel,” there is currently no country in the world that has its embassy in Jerusalem. Instead, all embassies in Israel can be found – not in Israel’s capital city, where embassies are traditionally located – but in Tel Aviv. (This does not include consulates, of which there are many in Jerusalem. To better understand the differences between an embassy and a consulate, see here).
Even the United States, which passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act into law in 1995, calling on the US to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, has failed to do so, with Presidents’ Clinton, Bush and Obama each justifying their inaction by citing national security interests.
Why is any of this relevant today?
Because United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is being sued over this very issue by a 9-year-old American citizen named Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky, and the case is to be heard by the US Supreme Court.
Like many children holding US citizenship to be born in Jerusalem, Zivotofsky’s US passport states that he was born in Jerusalem, and NOT Jerusalem, Israel.
The case asks the high court to rule on the constitutionality of the 2002 law that gives American citizens born in Jerusalem the right to have “Israel” entered on their passports as their place of birth.
The White House, this past week, in an effort to strengthen its case against officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, began editing all pictures on its official website listing Jerusalem as being part of Israel, of which there were many, changing the captions to state only Jerusalem.
Putting aside the merits of this case, in reality, it should be the government of the State of Israel standing trial for this offense, and not the US State Department.
Why, you ask?
Because, Israel has allowed for a situation to develop in which countries can decide with impunity to locate their embassies outside of Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem.
Countries throughout the world know that they can place their embassies in Tel Aviv, while enjoying the full benefits of having diplomatic relations with Israel (all the while maintaining good relations with Arab countries, who would seemingly not be pleased with countries placing their embassies for Israel in Jerusalem – a win/win situation).
Now, if Israel had any self-respect, she would make it clear to any country which sought to have diplomatic relations with her that if they wanted to have an embassy in Israel, it would either be in Jerusalem or not at all.
And, if Israel had any self-respect she would have made it clear to Washington, in no uncertain terms, that the White House Photoshopping pictures on its website, removing all references to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, represents an affront of the highest magnitude, and that were it not rectified immediately, there would be consequences (perhaps that of Israel asking the US Ambassador to return to Washington until the situation was corrected).
Of course Israel should strive to have diplomatic relations with as many countries as possible, but these relations must be built upon respect – and countries placing their embassies in a city other than Jerusalem represents an act of disrespect.
It is shameful that it is a 9 year old boy – and not the government of the Jewish State of Israel – that is standing up for the right of the Jewish State of Israel to declare Jerusalem as her capital city… and to have other countries recognize that right, as well.