Thursday, February 23, 2006

A small victory for common sense

There can't be too many examples of when a three year old takes on the American administration and wins. However, a child in Jerusalem has succeeded in sending a case in the US Court of Appeals back to the lower court, a small but measurable victory as efforts continue to compel the US government to write “Israel” in the passports of US citizens born in Jerusalem.

The improbably named case of Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky vs. US Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice has tilted in the favour of the former over the latter. To date, US citizens born in Jerusalem may only have “Jerusalem” written in their passports, with the US State Department fearing the inscription “Israel” may be seen as supporting Israel’s position that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of the State of Israel.

Taking corrective action, US President George W. Bush signed legislation in 2002 that compels writing “Israel,” but US diplomatic officials in Israel were informed the law is only “advisory” and not “mandatory”. As such, consular officials in Israel continue to list “Jerusalem” as the place of birth, not “Israel”.

The appeals court has sent the case of 3-year-old Menachem back to the Federal District Court in Washington, D.C., instructing the court to address the case of the US citizen born abroad. The higher court instructed the sides to “develop a more complete record relating to whether the law is mandatory or advisory.”
Apart from it being a ridiculous proposition to tell another nation its own geography, it also belies policy. As far as I am aware the US views at least west Jerusalem as part of the State of Israel so why the abhorrence to the term 'Israel' for someone who lives in west Jerusalem at least?
Also, if Bush signed legislation saying something how can some lower diplomats decide it is only 'advisory'? Would they say legislation that criminalises drugs or theft is 'advisory'? It is a patently absurd suggestion, and so is this. We await a positive result from this seemingly 'open and shut' case.

1 comment:

londoner said...

I never understood why the USA refuses to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital at least as far as West Jerusalem is concerned. If the Western part is not up for debate then what would be the problem with that?