The State Department’s Jerusalem syndrome

March 31, 2012

(Times of Israel)In 2008, Obama addressed the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, saying that “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.” Controversy ensued, and the next day Obama — then a presidential hopeful — “clarified” his remarks, saying Jerusalem’s final status will have to be determined in peace negotiations.

If the progressives are so serious about non intervention as being the reason America should not occupy a Muslim nation and change things then why do they not exert a similar standard in Jewish nations? I myself would prefer non intervention as a policy. We aren’t there to dictate semantics. When we send troops we should be there to kill an enemy that is clearly articulated. This culture of slapping the just people in the face with our opinions is destructive. Iraq would of been a cakewalk if we had gone in to kill the enemy and not rebuild Iraq as how we wanted to see it. Our self righteous attempt to force ideas on other countries will lead to our destruction. Never mind the fact that we are in fact breaking our own laws.

Caroline Glick..
30 March ’12..
(h/t Calev Ben Yefuneh)I went to the US Consulate this week to take care of certain family business. It was a thoroughly unpleasant experience. I think it is ironic that two days after my extremely unpleasant experience at the consulate, State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland refused to say what the capital of Israel is. It was ironic because anyone who visits the consulate knows that the US’s position on Jerusalem is in perfect alignment with that of Israel’s worst enemies.
Last time I went to the consulate was in 2007. At that time the building was located in the middle of an Arab neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem. It was unpleasant. In fact it was fairly frightening. Once inside the building I couldn’t shake the feeling that the Americans had gone out of their way to make Israeli-American Jews feel uncomfortable and vaguely threatened.
But then, I was able to console myself with the thought that the US has been upfront about its rejection of Israel’s right to assert its sovereignty over eastern Jerusalem. By treating Jews as foreigners in their capital city and behaving as though it belongs to the Arabs by among other things hiring only Arabs as local employees, the US officials on site were simply implementing a known US policy. True, I deeply oppose the policy, but no one was asking me, and no one was hiding anything from me.
The new consulate is much different, and much worse. The State Department opened its new consulate in Jerusalem in October 2010. It is located in the Jewish neighborhood of Arnona. It was built on the plot that Israel allocated for the US Embassy after Congress passed Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995 requiring the US government to move its embassy to Jerusalem.
It was an unvarnished act of aggression against Israel and Congress that the State Department built the new consulate on the plot that is supposed to be an expression of US recognition of Israel’s capital in Jerusalem.

If I am not mistaken, the US Consulate General in Jerusalem is the only US consulate in the world that is not subordinate to the embassy in the country where it is located. When it was located in a hostile Arab neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem, the fact that it was not subordinate to the US Embassy in Tel Aviv was upsetting. But it was also easily justified in light of US policy of not recognizing Israeli sovereignty in eastern, southern and northern Jerusalem.
But Arnona is in western Jerusalem. It is a Jewish neighborhood that even the most radical Israeli leftists don’t envision transferring to the Palestinians in any peace deal. Putting the consulate in Arnona – and on the site reserved for the embassy no less – is the clearest expression of American rejection of all Israeli sovereign rights to Jerusalem imaginable.
It isn’t simply that the Americans have located their independent consulate in the heart of a Jewish neighborhood.
Israelis who live in Jerusalem and need US consular services are required to go to the consulate in Jerusalem. You can’t get on a bus and go to Tel Aviv. This again is due to the fact that the US does not recognize ANY Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem. From the State Department’s perspective, people who live in Jerusalem — even in Arnona and Rehavia and Ein Kerem etc. — live in a DIFFERENT COUNTRY from people who live in Tel Aviv and Netanya. We can no more receive services from the embassy in Tel Aviv than we can receive services from the embassy in Amman.
I will be writing more about the US’s adversarial treatment of Israel as embodied in its treatment of Jerusalem in next week’s Jerusalem Post column. But suffice it to say here that Victoria Nuland’s statement to AP reporter Matt Lee, (posted below in case you missed it), is a true depiction of America’s policy on Jerusalem – and though it, on Israel. It would be useful for someone to get Mitt Romney on record discussing his position on Jerusalem. Assuming that he says – like every other Republican presidential candidate – that he supports transferring the US embassy to Jerusalem, he should further be asked to explain how, if he is elected president, he will force the State Department to change its policies towards Israel and respect US law by treating Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.


Occupy Boston Occupies Israeli Consulate

November 11, 2011
The attempted take over of the Israeli Consulate by Occupy another example of the anti-Israel sentiment coming out of the Occupy movement, whose leaders have a long history of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel activism. But the liberal media continues to condone the hatred using the excuse “its only a few crazies.”(MORE PAIN)

Do these kids really seem like that have the ability to think for themselves when they are trained to repeat what other people say like that. Someone should send them to boot camp… they seem to like marching and indoctrination. I for one would be annoyed by this even if I did agree with them

US consulate rescinds invitation to anti-semitic PalArab cartoonist

June 19, 2011

A Palestinian Arab political cartoonist, Majed Badra, had been invited by the US Consulate to go to the US and participate in an international political cartoonist convention.
At the last minute, the US Consulate rescinded the invitation, when they became aware that some of his cartoons were, pretty explicitly, anti-semitic.
Badra objects to this, saying that he has nothing against Judaism and that his cartoons are only against Israel, not Jews. He is complaining that he had already cleared his schedule to go to the US.
Interestingly, in the past two weeks, he pulled all content from his website.  Perhaps he is not as convinced that his work can stand up to scrutiny as being purely political.
Luckily, some of his cartoons can still be found elsewhere on the web.

As an artist I can’t say this is good Anti-Semitic work. I’m disappointed really. There has been incredibly well done vile hate in the past. The technique is forced and the primitive child like style is pretentious. I don’t even think Hitler would appreciate this stuff.

Is Jerusalem Part of Israel?

May 20, 2011

The U.S. Constitution Doesn’t Give the President the RIGHT to Overrule Congress on PASSPORTS.
…but this guy seems to think the argument is at an impasse. Nonsense. If neither party is designated powers then there is no  framework to take the power away from Congress. Thus the Congress has the right to say a child born in Jerusalem is  an Israeli

Richard A. Epstein (Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow and member of the Property Rights, Freedom, and Prosperity Task Force)
Congress says yes. The State Department says no. So what’s U.S. policy?
In modern political life, symbolic issues are often the most difficult to resolve. Nowhere is that more true than in international relationships, where passions often run hot, as with the ongoing dispute between Israelis and Palestinians over the legal status of Jerusalem. This debate is now playing itself out within the three branches of U.S. government, provoking a serious constitutional debate over separation of powers that next term will land in the lap of the United States Supreme Court.
Young Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky, an American, was born in Jerusalem in 2002. Shortly thereafter, his parents requested that the U.S. State Department list Israel as his birthplace on his passport. Under long-standing State Department policy, Jerusalem is not regarded as part of either Israel or Palestine, but is treated as a neutral city whose ultimate status will be determined by negotiations between the two parties. Hence State Department policy requires that only Jerusalem be listed as the place of birth, without mention of Israel. Congress, however, had other ideas. With scant attention to any of the constitutional niceties, in 2002 Congress adopted a statute that was on a collision course with State Department policy:
28 United States Code Section 214d RECORD OF PLACE OF BIRTH AS ISRAEL FOR PASSPORT PURPOSES. — For 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 explicit conflict between the congressional command and the State Department policy prompted then-President George W. Bush (like all previous presidents of both parties) to note in his presidential signing statement that this provision encroached on his presidential prerogative to be the sole organ of the American government in foreign relations.
Zivotofsky’s parents filed a lawsuit on their son’s behalf challenging that claim, which Hilary Clinton, as the current secretary of state in the Obama administration, continues to resist in good bipartisan fashion. The many conflicts that arise here are those between two branches of government, not two political parties.
First, there is the question of whether the statutory provision in question confers any “justiciable” right—i.e. one that can be decided in court—upon the individual applicant. In its defense of this suit, the United States government has argued that any disputes between Congress and the president should never end up in the lap of the courts, but should be handled by negotiations between the two branches of government.
Congress’ statute was on a collision course with State Department policy.
At one level, this argument is rooted in the concept of “standing,” which claims that young Zivotofsky has no protected interest in going to court. As a technical matter, the one clear place for the standing doctrine is as a bar to advisory opinions that either the president or Congress might seek from the courts.
Yet in this instance, advice is not what is sought. What is demanded is that the government issue Zivotofsky a passport stamped with Israel as his place of birth. No matter how narrow the definition of standing, Zivotofsky is in a unique position to demand that the government issue that document. Thus the case is far removed from those cases in which citizens or taxpayers seek to enjoin or compel government action; in such cases the Supreme Court has routinely denied standing. But as long as the State Department resists Zivotofsky’s demands, he has standing to challenge its action, just as if it had refused to issue him a passport at all.
Second, the Secretary of State is insisting that passing the statute in question is beyond the power of Congress because it deals with foreign affairs—an area that the Constitution entrusts exclusively to the president.
The Constitution actually does no such thing. For starters, it is clear that Congress has the power to “establish a uniform rule of naturalization” (of foreigners), to “regulate commerce with foreign nations”, to “declare war” (against presumably foreign nations), and to control appropriations for the armed forces of the United States.
Noticeably missing from this list, however, is an explicit congressional power to authorize, let alone regulate, the ability of the president and the executive branch to issue passports. That textual lacuna has never stopped anyone before and it will not stop anyone today. Thus, 28 U.S.C. § 211a confers on the secretary of state the “authority to grant, issue, and verify passports.”
So here is the ticklish position for the secretary of state: if Section 211a can authorize the secretary of state to issue passports, why can’t section 214d limit and direct how that power is exercised? To this fair question, the State Department offers two answers, one procedural and the other substantive.
Procedurally, the State Department claims that the federal courts do not have “subject matter jurisdiction” to hear the case because the entire matter ultimately dissolves into a bare-knuckle political dispute between Congress and the executive branch. By using the words “subject matter jurisdiction,” the secretary of state claims that the courts have no power over the executive branch to do what they always do—deal with individual grievances under the law.
At one level, that claim is downright scary. Does the president really believe, for instance, that the government can detain individuals without the judicial oversight normally supplied by the writ of habeas corpus? If Congress orders the president to bring the prisoners forward for a hearing, is the question of imprisonment beyond the power of the courts to hear? That cannot be.
Does the Constitution entrust foreign affairs exclusively to the president?
The political question doctrine—yet another facet of justiciability— resonates when the issue is whether the courts are asked to stop military activities in Vietnam because Congress did not “declare” a war for which it appropriated funds. Yet that large political debate catches no particular individual in the crossfire. Hence, courts are well-advised to steer clear of those disputes. But in this case, the secretary of state has chosen to defy an explicit statutory command that confers rights on discrete persons. Surely, on this issue, some judicial response is appropriate.
On the substantive issue, the secretary of state’s position is that Section 214d (dealing with Jerusalem) is unconstitutional insofar as it purports to tell the State Department how to run foreign policy.
The great irony here is that the presidential claim for control over all foreign affairs is, constitutionally, just as shaky as the congressional claim. As a general matter, setting the ground rules for issuing passports looks like the kind of legislative issue entrusted not to the president but to Congress.
The basic constitutional command requires that the president “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Inserting the little word “be” suggests that the president cannot escape his duty to implement legislation by letting subordinate officers in the executive branch flout the law.
At this point, the use of the word “shall” in section 214d seems to put a hammerlock on the secretary of state. Section 214d says, “For … 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.” Yet the secretary of state argues, implausibly, that the word “shall” in this context really means “may,” so that she “may” (or “may not”) follow a statute that is now reduced to an empty set of words.
More dramatic is the secretary of state’s other claim, which is that Section 214d is unconstitutional because it intrudes into matters of foreign affairs that are exclusively reserved to the executive branch. But search as one may, there is no explicit authority granting the president power to issue passports in Article II of the Constitution, which deals with the executive branch. Issuing passports certainly does not fall to the president in his role as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. After all, most passports are not war-related.
The Constitution is a fragile and imperfect document.
The secretary of state takes great store in the provision that allows the president of the United States to “receive ambassadors and other public ministers”—as if there were anyone else in Washington who could do that job. But the leap from that modest power to full control over foreign affairs rests on a chain of fanciful inferences with little to no textual backing.
To be sure, the Supreme Court has often said that the power to receive ambassadors necessarily entails the power to decide whether or not to recognize the government that purports to send them, which in turn requires the president to have full control over foreign policy. But by such logic, Congress’s control over foreign commerce and its power to declare war also gives it the power to decide who counts as friend or foe to the United States, and thus to set legislative ground rules telling the president which ambassadors to receive and which to turn away from our doors.
Neither of these attenuated chains of power is the slightest bit persuasive. Indeed, the best textual reading of the Constitution is that it contains a huge gap. Every nation has to have a system of passport control, and our Founding Fathers just forgot to give anyone explicit control over its organization and operation.
How then should the impasse be resolved? There are two organizing principles, neither of which is decisive.
The first says that once there is an essential federal function, the usual division of power between the president and Congress should apply. Congress sets the rules of the game, while the president carries them out.
The second approach cares little for abstract principle but holds instead that in the absence of clear textual authorization one way or the other, the current Supreme Court should stick to its earlier precedents, which in this case, without question, are weighted heavily in favor of the president. On that view, Congress upsets the presidential prerogative by forcing the secretary of state to issue passports marked Israel for American citizens born in Jerusalem.
That position has prevailed thus far in two lower courts, and the betting here is that it will prevail again in the Supreme Court. The likelihood of success is not rooted in the argument’s intrinsic merit, but rather in its historical pedigree, which the president defends ferociously while Congress moves on to other business.
But whatever the eventual outcome, this entire episode should serve as a sober reminder that the Constitution is a fragile and imperfect document that largely survives by the good will and mutual forbearance of our key institutional players. As such, historical practice necessarily counts as much as, and in some instances even more than, original meaning.
The point here is not to belittle, let alone reject, rigorous canons of interpretation—canons that the Supreme Court has violated on more than one occasion. Rather, it refers to the more humbling point that it is not possible to discern any original intention on a question that the framers of our Constitution simply forgot to address. The larger lesson is a plea for patience in the fervent hope that this dispute will quietly resolve itself before any real damage is done. Here, as in so many other cases, the Constitution is as much a matter of statecraft as it is of textual interpretation.
Richard Epstein is the Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow at Hoover. He is also the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law at New York University. His areas of expertise include constitutional law, intellectual property, and property rights. His most recent books are The Case Against the Employee Free Choice Act (Hoover Press, 2009) and Supreme Neglect: How to Revive the Constitutional Protection for Private Property (Oxford Press, 2008).
Letters to the editor may be sent to Editors reserve the right to reject or publish (and edit) letters.

the president does not have the right to control legislation involving passports. Congress has that power.  The president might have that same power, but it does not allow him to overrule the legislative power of Congress.  The Constitution does not give the president that kind of frame, but a president might not listen to the Constitution.

the Bush administration said Congress may not tell the president what to do regarding this aspect of foreign relations.
The Obama administration agrees with its predecessor.
When the high court hears arguments in the fall, the issue will be whether the congressional directive impermissibly interferes with the president’s power.
The State Department’s longstanding policy has been to refrain from expressing a view about Jerusalem’s status, despite the congressional action as well as Israel’s assertion of sovereignty over all of Jerusalem and declaration of the city as its capital. Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War brought the entire city under Israeli control.
The U.S., which keeps its embassy in Tel Aviv, and most nations do not recognize Jerusalem as the capital and say the city’s status should be resolved in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
Ari Zivotofsky, the boy’s father, said in an interview in Israel that he considers Jerusalem part of Israel.
“As a U.S. citizen and a resident of Israel, I find it a little bit strange that the U.S. doesn’t recognize Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, and certainly the western half, where the hospital is located,” he said.
“Jerusalem is subject to dispute as to its future status. Its current status seems to me pretty clear. When the U.S. government mails its consular officials mail, they mail it to Jerusalem, Israel,” he said.
Had Menachem been born in Tel Aviv, the State Department would have issued a passport listing his place of birth as Israel. The regular practice for recording the birth of a U.S. citizen abroad is to list the country where it occurred.
But the department’s guide tells consular officials, “For a person born in Jerusalem, write Jerusalem as the place of birth in the passport.”
Israel’s supporters in Congress have long objected to the official position on Jerusalem. In 1995, Congress essentially adopted the Israeli position, saying the U.S. should recognize a united Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Then in 2002, lawmakers passed new provisions urging the president to take steps to move the embassy to Jerusalem and allowing Americans born in Jerusalem to have their place of birth listed as Israel.
The measures were part of a large foreign affairs bill that President George W. Bush signed into law. But even as he did so, Bush issued a signing statement in which he said that “U.S. policy regarding Jerusalem has not changed.” The president said Congress could not tell him what to do in this matter of foreign affairs.
Presidential signing statements, which have been used for centuries, became a point of controversy during Bush’s presidency. He issued them more often than any other president. Democrats in Congress complained that he used them to pick and choose parts of legislation he could ignore, overstepping his bounds as president.
After the Zivotofskys took their complaint to federal court in 2003, a judge refused to get in the middle of the dispute over Jerusalem’s status. It was a political question, the judge said, for Congress and the president to work out without the intervention of the courts.
U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler said that if the courts were to get involved in a case about Jerusalem’s status, “a controversial reaction is virtually guaranteed. Such a reaction can only further complicate and undermine United States efforts to help resolve the Middle East conflict.”
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed that it had no authority to consider the claim.
One appellate judge, Harry Edwards, said he disagreed with his colleagues. But he would have ruled against the Zivotofskys. Edwards said the Constitution clearly gives the president exclusive power in this area and that it was important for the courts to say so.
That’s the question the court agreed on Monday to answer.

Hoax of the Russian Consulate

March 26, 2011
Five months later, in May 1982, the police happened to mention the consulate duty in a report. “What booth?” asked a bewildered intelligence official. It turned out that Officer Cowans and Inspector Whitmore did not exist; the police had been guarding an empty building around the clock for five months, right through Christmas, for no reason.

Media_httpfarm3static_bcjudFor several years during the Cold War, New York police guarded the Soviet consulate at 9 East 91st Street in Manhattan. Officers manned a pale blue guard post 24 hours a day. “It’s like being a prisoner of war stuck in a telephone booth,” one said.
The Soviets left in 1980, and the police department accordingly canceled the guard, but two months later the 23rd precinct received a call from an Officer Cowans who said that Inspector Whitmore of police intelligence had ordered the guard to be reactivated. So the police resumed their vigil over the now-disused building.
They closed up shop and removed the booth. “Whoever did this was someone who wanted to break chops or who stood to gain from it,” Lt. Robert McEntire told the New York Times. “We’re not sure which, and we probably never will be.”

Police taking away pickets from Soviet consulate. via

and consulate today image via andrei deev