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Friday, August 20, 2004

Playing the cards we were dealt

The title of today’s post occurred to me while I was getting all of our documents together in preparation for our recent trip to visit family in the states. Our five U.S. Passports and five Israeli Passports were fanned out on the bed like a couple of poker hands, and there in the middle, like the ‘pot’ in a high stakes game, was Yonah’s very official looking 'Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States'.

I began thinking that just as in a hand of poker, we were dealt most of our ‘cards’ in life at the very start. Our U.S. citizenship was the initial ‘hand’ we received for the price of our parent’s ante. Then, as the game progressed, we tossed in a couple of cards (proximity to family & familiarity of American culture) and in return, the dealer dealt us our Israeli citizenship.

Up until this point, I had assumed that the game was pretty easy and that I knew all the rules. However, sitting there on my bed with those potentially winning hands in front of me (have I stretched this metaphor to the breaking point yet?), I realized that an important word, deliberately missing from the certificate in the ‘pot’, was perhaps the best indication of how serious the game had become... and how I was just starting to understand the rules.

You see, according to the U.S. Department of State, our son was born in a city that belongs to no country.

No really.

On his very official looking 'Report of Birth Abroad’ certificate, it says he was born in Jerusalem, ___________. That’s right, there is a big blank space where the name of the country is supposed to be printed!

No, this was not a clerical oversight.

For years the U.S. State Department has pursued a consistently pro-Arab policy regardless of which way the political winds have blown in the executive and legislative branches. Despite U.S. legislation (which has been signed into law, officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel), the U.S. Embassy inexplicably remains in Tel Aviv, and official U.S. documents regarding Jerusalem deliberately omit any reference to its being the capital, or even part, of Israel.

One can’t even make the argument that the consular staff chose to leave out the word Israel on the registration certificate because of the issue of East Jerusalem (which was captured in the Six Day War and subsequently annexed) vs. West Jerusalem (which has always been in Israeli hands), since the Hospital where Yonah was born (Sha’are Tzedek) is located in uncontested West Jerusalem!

Just as the words, “In the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven…” in the closing paragraph of the U.S. Constitution fly in the face of the separation of Church & State established earlier in the document… so too, the absence of the word ‘Israel’ in Yonah’s ‘Registration of a U.S. Citizen’s Birth Abroad’ illustrates that the laws and actions of the U.S. government are not always in perfect agreement.

Whatever... no big surprise there, and no real chance of a policy change in the near future. You see the U.S. is deep in the silly season... busy trying to elect the man who will do the least damage to country. Good luck with all that (for what it's worth, Zahava and I will vote absentee).

What most voters don't stop to consider is that the outcome of the U.S. presidential election in November will probably have only the most superficial affect on the policies of the U.S. Department of State. However, it's nice to know that regardless of whether the Democrats or Republicans prevail... come January 20th someone will take the oath of office while resting his right hand on the only document I need to prove to the world that Jerusalem was, and always will be, the birthright, possession and capital of the Jewish people.

Posted by David Bogner on August 20, 2004 | Permalink

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hey, don't say I didn't warn ya (recall my comment to a previous blog post and your "let's wait and see" response - now you waited and saw!). there's a class action suit afoot to rectify the situation, since as you pointed out, the US does officially recognize jerusalem as the capital of israel - happy to provide info for that offline.

Posted by: yonah | Aug 22, 2004 1:08:47 AM

Yonah... Is that an 'I told you so'? Sure sounded like one! :-)

Posted by: David | Aug 22, 2004 5:21:29 PM

On the aside...did y'all come to the US already OR is this trip something you are planning..let us know we would love to meet you sooner rather than later :)

Posted by: Mrs. Efrex | Aug 23, 2004 12:10:31 AM

You may find this hard to believe, but until about 5 years ago, I always thought that Jerusalem was the capitol of Israel. I guess it's because I was raised as a Christian. Hopefully, we will eventually quit trying to pacify the Muslims, who will never be our friends no matter what we do, and move our Embassy to the proper location.

Posted by: dbates | Aug 23, 2004 6:32:04 PM

Well I guess yours son's Report of Birth is what you call the joker in a card game... ;-)

Posted by: Lila | Aug 24, 2004 12:21:24 PM

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