Jewish groups file Jerusalem brief with U.S. high court


(JTA) — American Jewish groups asked the U.S. Supreme Court to allow Jerusalem-born American citizens to have their birthplace listed as Israel on their birth certificates and passports.

Eleven major groups in a friend-of-the-court brief in the case of Zivotofsky v. Clinton asked the high court to order the U.S. State Department to comply with a 2002 law that directs the secretary of state, "upon the request of the citizen or the citizen’s legal guardian, [to] record the place of birth as Israel."

The State Department manual currently allows that the passports of American citizens born in Jerusalem must say "Jerusalem" as the place of birth, reflecting official U.S. government policy regarding the unresolved status of Jerusalem, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which filed the brief.

The case involves 9-year-old Menachem Zivotofsky, whose American-Israeli parents Ari and Naomi want his birth country listed as Israel on his passport.

Other organizations signing the brief are the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, B’nai B’rith International, Hadassah, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the National Council of Jewish Women, the National Council of Young Israel, the Rabbinical Assembly, the Union for Reform Judaism, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism.

The names of Americans born in Jerusalem are still being collected on the website of the ad hoc Association of Proud American Citizens Born in Jerusalem, Israel, which was established to raise awareness of the issue and legal challenge. More than 120 American citizens have registered so far.

"Americans born in Jerusalem should have the same right to indicate their country of birth on their passport that is currently available to other American citizens born abroad, and that is what Congress has mandated," said Abraham Foxman, ADL’s national director. "The purpose of a passport is for identification, and it is indisputable that Jerusalem is in Israel. The Supreme Court should insist that the State Department follow the law."

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