Israel’s president to U.S. military chief: ‘I was born in Jerusalem and I am Israeli’


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli President Reuven Rivlin told the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff at a Jerusalem meeting, “I was born in Jerusalem and I am Israeli.”

Rivlin, meeting Wednesday at his official residence with Gen. Martin Dempsey, was referring to this week’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that American citizens born in Jerusalem cannot list Israel as their birthplace on their U.S. passports.

Rivlin is a seventh-generation Jerusalemite who was born nine years before Israel became a state in 1948.

“Of course we have no criticism of the decision of the Supreme Court in Washington,” he said, according to the Times of Israel website. “We salute the rule of law, and we appreciate and understand that they have decided not upon if Jerusalem is part of Israel or not, but who is going to decide upon those matters once it is a matter that goes between the Congress and the administration and the president.”

Rivlin thanked Dempsey for his friendship.

“We are proud to have you as a friend,” the Israeli president said, according to a statement issued by the President’s Office.” “We salute and appreciate you, and your friendship will be well remembered.”

During a discussion of the threat posed by Iran and the ongoing civil war in Syria, Rivlin said, “It was commonly thought that the enemy of your enemy was your friend. However, we know that this is no longer necessarily the case. For us it is not a theoretical or hypothetical issue. This is a very real threat to the citizens of Israel — Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike.”

Dempsey said his meetings with security officials in Israel are “necessary for us to face the security challenges that face not only Israel but the United States. You have our deep commitment to continue to build on that relationship, but you don’t have to thank me, this is something we are honored to be part of.”

It was Dempsey’s sixth visit to Israel.

On Tuesday, Dempsey met for the first time with his Israeli counterpart, Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot. Israel and the Israel Defense Forces have “no greater friend on the face of the Earth than the United States military,” Dempsey said prior to the meeting after receiving a badge of appreciation from Eisenkot at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv.

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