Just days after the Zionist Organization of America pointed out in a legal brief that the U.S. government routinely refers to Jerusalem as a part of Israel, the White House changed its Web site to remove the designation.
The ZOA’s brief had been filed with the U.S. Supreme Court as an amicus or friend of the court in a case that challenged the State Department’s decision to ignore a law requiring it to list “Israel” on the passports of Americans born in Jerusalem if their parents request it.
The parents of Menachem Zivotofsky brought the case after the State Department said compliance with the law would infringe on the president’s foreign policy powers.
In her brief, the ZOA’s lawyer, Susan Tuchman, pointed out that for years “departments and agencies in the Executive branch of the United States government have routinely referred to Jerusalem as part of the State of Israel. This designation has been a regular and accepted practice, without any evident impact on the president’s purported recognition power.”
In addition, the brief said the “State Department will frequently defer to citizens’ personal preferences as to how their birthplace should be recorded. Indeed, for those citizens born in the U.S-recognized sovereign State of Israel, the State Department will disregard Israel’s sovereignty and honor citizens’ request not to have ‘Israel’ listed as their birthplace.”
Thus, it said, people born before Israel became a state in 1948 in areas that are indisputably recognized by the U.S. today as under Israeli sovereignty may opt to have “Palestine” listed as their place of birth “even though Palestine is not and never has been a sovereign nation.”
Five days after the Aug. 5 filing of the ZOA brief, the White House Web site suddenly changed captions under pictures of Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Israel in March 2010 to remove references to Jerusalem being in Israel. The change was first reported in the New York Sun.
“President [Barack] Obama and his administration should be ashamed of themselves for taking these outrageous actions which will surely do nothing to help the government’s case,” Tuchman said in a joint statement with ZOA President Morton Klein.
“We are appalled that the White House would resort to such a transparent and shameful tactic in an effort to diminish the strength of the ZOA’s argument,” the statement added. “If anything, the White House’s actions show that the government recognizes the strength of the ZOA’s argument ….”