Are you from Jerusalem or Israel? Guess they’re not the same thing anymore. After a 12-year battle between the Zivotofsky family and the United States Supreme Court, the court decided Monday against listing the birthplace of Jerusalem-born American citizens as Israel. The decision is the result of a longstanding desire to remain neutral to negotiations in the Middle East among American presidents. Neutral isn’t exactly the feeling of a lot of Jerusalem-born Americans right now, however.
Jerusalem sits between Palestine and Israel, and is not recognized as the capital of either by the U.S. government. The court ruled 6-3 in favor of allowing State Department officials to turn down Jerusalem-born Americans asking for a passport listing their country of birth as Israel. Instead, the president has the authority to decide the country’s standing on Jerusalem.
The University of Minnesota’s Students Supporting Israel vice president Sami Rahamim said that although he will always view Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, he understands the need of the U.S. government to show support both for Jewish and Arab populations worldwide, though he acknowledges it’s a pretty thin line to walk.
“As a Jew and as a pro-Israel student, Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel,” Rahamim said. “But from an American perspective, if you ask President Obama, ‘Is Jerusalem the capital of Israel?’ he’s not going to answer because he has to be able to answer to the Arab world as well, and I, as an American, can totally understand that.”
Rahamim pointed out the time Congress took to make their decision, acknowledging the “political reality” of Congress’ choice.
Read more details on the landmark ruling.