The US Consulate, on Jerusalem’s Agron Street.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
It is expected that when a country sets up a consulate in a foreign land it is within diplomatic protocol and parameters. This is especially true when that foreign land is an important ally and alone in the area in upholding their shared values and principles.
The US Consulate in Jerusalem presents itself as being somewhere other than the capital of Israel. It is an affront to the State of Israel.
It is also an affront to the sensitivities of Americans and their expressed desire through their representatives in Washington to respect the fact that Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel. Just look at the consulate’s website (https://jru.usconsulate.gov/). Even the address contains “jru” but no hint of the host country, Israel, as if Jerusalem were an independent country.
If you browse the website, you will see mention of Palestine, Gaza, Ramallah – but nary a comment as to the host country. There are facilities offered for Arabic speakers, but not Hebrew. There are pictures of children and activities, but not for or of Israelis.
Jerusalem is a beautiful and thriving capital city. The US Consulate has the good fortune to be situated in a beautiful neighborhood in the capital. If they look beyond the corner they have painted themselves into, the consulate staff would see the beauty of their host city and country.
They would see many creeds and races living and working together. They would see the holy places of three of those creeds and their various sects protected and respected.
This bizarre and hostile attitude feeds directly into an international audience who harbor hatred toward the Jewish people and exhibit oldschool antisemitism. It aids the absurd claims of those, like UNESCO, who seek to delegitimize the state and “remove” the Jewish people from their homeland.
Of course, the website has carried mention of President Barack Obama’s recent visit for the funeral of president Shimon Peres. However, just as the State Department made sure to crudely cross out “Israel” from the transcript, their consulate website makes it all occur in a Jerusalem, with no reference to what country the city might be located in.
In letting fellow Americans know, I have been met with disbelief and consternation that our country should be so misrepresented and so callous in considering the feelings of our ally.
It is unimaginable that the United States should be doing this to a good friend. Let us consider if we did this to an avowed enemy. Picture, if you will, the US Consulate in Berlin, East Germany before the wall came down.
What if that consulate acted as if it was not in Germany? Imagine if that consulate absurdly displayed only the benefits of living in Switzerland.
Similarly, the consulate in Jerusalem speaks only of Gaza, the Palestinian areas and the Arab countries and culture of the rest of the Middle East.
However, the host country in this case is supposed to be a close friend of the United States. Yet, there is an official, uncalled for and obvious snubbing of the host country.
Congress, speaking for the American people, has done its part more than once in attempting to change the status of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Several presidents came into office with the promise to move the embassy to Jerusalem. President-elect Donald Trump has come in with that promise emphasized in his campaign platform.
President Reagan famously implored that the Berlin Wall be taken down.
There is now an opportunity to take down the propaganda wall that separates the US State Department presence in Jerusalem from its host country, America’s strong friend and ally in the Middle East.
Mr. Trump, take down this affront!
The author has served in several capacities in building Israel-US trade relations, including that of director of trade for the government of Israel to the United States, based in New York. He now lives in Jerusalem, Israel.