US Supreme Court deals Israel lobby big defeat in Jerusalem passport case

A light display projected onto Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate during the Israeli-government backed “Festival of Lights,” which Palestinians view as an Israeli effort to consolidate control over the occupied city, on 4 June.

Saeb Awad APA images

Israel and its lobby were dealt a major defeat today as the US Supreme Court struck down a law allowing US citizens born in Jerusalem to list “Israel” as their country of birth in their passports.

The Supreme Court ruled that Section 214(d) of the 2002 Foreign Relations Authorization Act infringes on the president’s exclusive power to recognize foreign states.

The decision was 6 to 3, with three of the most conservative judges – Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito – dissenting. The court heard arguments in the case last October.

President Barack Obama, like his predecessors, has refused to formally recognize Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, holding that its final status should be subject to negotiations.

Section 214(d) – now struck down – provided that “for the purposes of the registration of birth, certification of nationality, or issuance of a passport of a United States citizen born in the city of Jerusalem, the Secretary shall, upon the request of the citizen or the citizen’s legal guardian, record the place of birth as Israel.”

The biased law did not allow US citizens born anywhere, including Jerusalem, to list their country of birth as “Palestine.”

No country recognizes Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem, which is why even states that recognize Israel all place their embassies in Tel Aviv.

Zionist militias ethnically cleansed and conquered the western part of Jerusalem during the Nakba in 1948 and occupied the eastern part in 1967.

The UN Security Council has decreed repeatedly moreover that Israel’s purported annexation of East Jerusalem after 1967 is null and void.

Backdoor recognition

Because of this, Israel and its supporters have sought backdoor ways to legitimize Israeli control over Jerusalem and the passport law was one means.

The American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) said in a statement that it “celebrated” the decision in the case, known as Zivotofsky v. Kerry.

The petitioner in the case was Menachem Zivotofsky (via his parents Ari Z. and Naomi Siegman Zivotofsky), a US citizen born in Jerusalem.

ADC was one of several groups that filed friend of the court briefs in the case arguing in favor of the decision that the court ultimately handed down.

Most of the amicus briefs filed in the case were in support of the law, including from such staunchly anti-Palestinian groups as the Zionist Organization of America, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, as well as the United States Senate.

The State of Texas even weighed in with its own brief backing the now defunct provision.

True Torah Jews, however, filed an amicus brief on behalf of Satmars and other non-Zionist Jews opposing the law.

The Satmars are the largest group of Ultra-Orthodox – or Hasidic – Jews in the United States.

Anti-Palestinian groups expressed disappointment in today’s decision.

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Comments

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As welcome was this decision, it is a mistake to consider it a major defeat for the Israel Lobby which has much more important fish to fry, such as having a plank inserted into the TPA (Trade Promotional Authority) which will penalize countries and companies that either boycott or divest from Israel because of its occupation of the West Bank; having the House vote 423-0 to sanction Hezbollah, and make sure that the negotiations with Iran are so weighted down with AIPAC drafted qualifications, that the deal falls apart.

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A very special thanks to Jeff Blankfort:

The phrase, "Keep your eyes..etc." is the title and primary
refrain of a well-known song for civil rights and social
justice which we all sang in the US in the 60's. We still
sing it!

----Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

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I was surprised when the NY Times ran an editorial on Monday, June 8, supporting the Supreme Court decision. The editorial itself was ho-hum, arguing that the President has the authority over foreign policy, not Congress. The editorial did not mention the Israel Lobby at all, and did not say that the Supreme Court decision was a defeat for the Israel Lobby.
But the editorial itself was a defeat for the Lobby!
<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06...

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.