Commentary Magazine


A Passport and the White House’s Web Site

Two months after Menachem Zivotofsky was born in 2002 to American parents in West Jerusalem (at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, which has been in Jerusalem since 1902), his mother went to the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv to get a passport for him, asking it show his place of birth as “Jerusalem, Israel.”

The embassy entered “Jerusalem” on the passport, but refused to enter “Israel,” despite the fact Congress enacted a law in 2002 directing the State Department to enter “Israel” if a citizen so requested.  

Nine years later, the constitutionality of the law is curently before the U.S. Supreme Court in Zivotofsky v. Clinton. Zivotofsky’s brief was filed last Friday, and this week, One Jerusalem held an informative conference call with his lawyers to review the case.

At the New York Sun, I have set forth a particularly interesting portion of the call, and discuss the fact that while the administration has refused to put “Jerusalem, Israel” on Zivotofsky’s  passport (or even simply “Israel”), the White House website has a series of pictures from Vice President Biden’s trip to Israel last year — all of which have a caption identifying his location as “Jerusalem, Israel.”