JNS - The Jewish News Syndicate cited B'nai B'rith International's response to a potential policy change that would allow Jerusalem-born American citizens to list "Jerusalem, Israel" as their place of birth on their passports.
(August 29, 2019 / JNS) U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that the Trump administration is considering allowing U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem to list “Jerusalem, Israel” on their U.S. passports.
“We’re constantly evaluating the way we handle what can be listed on passports,” he told JNS in a wide-ranging interview. “It’s something that’s actively being looked at.”
Despite the United States recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 and relocating its embassy from Tel Aviv months later, Americans born in Jerusalem are still unable to list “Jerusalem, Israel” on U.S. passports.
“The president has made clear that the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem remain subject to final-status negotiations between the [Israelis and the Palestinians],” a State Department spokesperson told JNS in October. “We have not changed our practice regarding place of birth on passports or Consular Reports of Birth Abroad at this time.”
Pro-Israel organizations responded positively to JNS regarding the development.
B’nai B’rith International CEO and executive vice president Dan Mariaschin said “it’s encouraging news. This is a logical follow-on to moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and in the process, corrects a historical wrong which denied this designation for over seven decades.”
“The [U.S.] Supreme Court has determined that the passport issue is within the purview of the administration, which has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” said American Zionist Movement president Richard Heideman. “It is most appropriate for passports for those born in Jerusalem, such as my three grandchildren born at Hadassah Hospital, to be listed as born in Jerusalem, Israel and not simply born in Jerusalem as if they were stateless, which they are not.”
Jerusalem, said Pastor John Hagee, founder and chairman of Christians United for Israel, is the “eternal and undivided capital of Israel. This should be reflected in all aspects of relevant U.S. policy, including on passports of U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem, Israel.”
“This is a very important and significant decision which affirms the long-standing fact that Jerusalem is Israel and isn’t in “dispute,’” said Republican Jewish Coalition executive director Matt Brooks. “Once again, President Trump and his administration enacts a policy that the Jewish community has long sought and underscores why he’s the most pro-Israel President in history.”
Sarah Stern, founder and president of Endowment for Middle East Truth, said “it’s about time that people who have been born in Jerusalem, Israel should have their state listed on a passport. We applaud Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for seriously considering it. It’s outrageous that only American citizens born in Jerusalem have remained stateless for so long even with the U.S. embassy moved to Jerusalem.”
“The National Council of Young Israel supported the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 and have long advocated for U.S. Passports of Americans born in Jerusalem to say Jerusalem, Israel,” said the group’s president, Farley Weiss. “Listing Jerusalem, Israel on U.S. passports is a natural extension of the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”
“It is long overdue that this is corrected,” said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. “It is unfair to the Americans born in Jerusalem that their passports do not recognize the state. It does not prejudge or compromise the US position; it compliments U.S. law that recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
AIPAC spokesman Marshall Wittmann said, “We have long advocated that those who were born in Jerusalem can list Israel as their place of birth for their U.S. passports.”
Gauging the response of Arab countries
In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in Zivotofsky v. Kerry that it is solely the president who has the power to recognize foreign entities in accordance with the U.S. Constitution’s Reception Clause.
“Zivotofsky ruled in favor of the executive; he was not required to comply with the federal law,” constitutional scholar Ilya Shapiro previously told JNS. “Trump, like Obama, can decline to stamp ‘Israel’ on the passport of a citizen born in Jerusalem.”
Washington-based geopolitical strategist and diplomacy consultant John Sitilides told JNS on Thursday that the “passport designation decision is rather unsurprising—more of an inevitable matter of when than of will, given the Trump Administration’s December 2017 decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”
“What will be most noteworthy going forward are several paramount questions. What will be the response of Arab countries such Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco that are tentatively supporting the Trump administration’s efforts to advance a breakthrough Israeli-Palestinian peace plan to include negotiations on Jerusalem’s final municipal boundaries?
“Did the White House first notify these countries of its impending decision to gauge and ensure their continued support for the peace plan effort?” he posed. “And will this decision help Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu prevail in upcoming Israeli elections?”
The next round of Israeli elections will be held on Sept. 17, after the April 9 first round failed to result in a coalition government.
Responding to this week's heavy flooding in central Texas that killed at least 19 and caused millions of dollars in damage, B'nai B'rith International opened it's Flood, Tornado and Hurricane Disaster Relief Fund to assist the victims and rebuild.
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B'nai B'rith International was one of several Jewish organizations that weighed in on the results of the Greek parliament elections, after victories by the extreme Syriza, Independent Greeks (ANEL) and Golden Dawn parties.
Greece has long struggled to combat anti-Semitism, and B'nai B'rith has followed the situation closely, engaging with government leaders to advocate for tolerance and help diffuse tensions.
Here are notable events from the last three years:
B'nai B'rith International was quoted in an article on JNS.org, which reflected the organization's concerns for the election outcomes.
Read excerpts from the article below:
Jewish leaders have expressed both hope and concern over the outcome of the Greek election on Sunday, in which the radical left-wing Syriza party won 149 parliament seats and 36.3 percent of the vote.
Syriza officials have called for the end of Israel’s “brutality against Palestinians,” and Panos Kammenos—the leader of the right-wing Independent Greeks (ANEL) party, with whom Syriza formed a majority coalition—garnered accusations of anti-Semitism last December for claiming that Greek Jews do not pay taxes.
Golden Dawn, an extreme-right neo-Nazi party, placed third in results that polls suggested were driven largely by voters’ economic concerns.
The Greek Jewish community consists of about 5,000 people out of the country’s total population of 11.2 million, according to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).
The community has experienced rising anti-Semitic sentiment that is correlated with both the country’s economic crisis as well as escalations in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict such as last summer’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.
B’nai Brith International told JNS.org in a statement that the group is concerned by some “past statements about Israel made by [Syriza] party leaders,” but hopes “that the relationship with Israel, which had been building over the past decade in many fields, will be unaffected by the outcome.”
It was a devastating start to the new year in France, as a total of 17 innocent civilians were executed by Islamic terrorists in four separate incidents in Paris.
After a major attack on the satirical publisher Charlie Hebdo on Thursday, the Jewish community was specifically targeted with a deadly hostage situation on Friday in the kosher supermarket Hyper Cacher.
While anti-Semitic attacks in France have largely flown under the radar in recent years, they are increasingly common for the French Jewish community.
B'nai B'rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin was quoted in an article in the Jewish News Service, urging European leaders to be proactive against fanatical Islam.
Read excerpts from the story, below:
Since the March 2012 attack in which Mohammed Merah killed three children and a rabbi at Jewish school in Toulouse, the threat of Islamic terrorism has not let up for Jews and the general public in France.
B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin told JNS.org that those outside of France and Europe should “call on leadership to really begin to address this growing menace” of Islamism.
“These threats are threats [not only to Jews but also] to the democratic fabric of post-war Europe,” and European leaders cannot go on much longer without well-organized efforts to deal with the problem, Mariaschin said.
The maps label Gaza and the West Bank but do not demarcate Israel, instead depicting Jordan and Syria as extending all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.
“HarperCollins regrets the omission of the name Israel from their Collins Middle East Atlas,” the publishing company said. “This product has now been removed from sale in all territories and all remaining stock will be pulped. HarperCollins sincerely apologizes for this omission and for any offense caused.”
“The willful error was exacerbated by the initial tone-deaf defense by HarperCollins of its decision. … Does the publisher’s acquiescence to ‘local preferences’ take into account that many of Israel’s neighbors have the singular goal of destroying Israel and its people?” B’nai B’rith International said in a statement.
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