Which Jerusalemite was first to put 'Israel' as birthplace on passport?

Ari and Naomi Zivotofksy asked for a passport that recorded their son's birthplace as Israel 18 years ago, but the US government would only say he was born in Jerusalem.

Menachem Zivotofksy speaks on receiving his new passport, with Jerusalem, Israel listed as his birthplace, October 30, 2020 (Credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
After their son Menachem’s birth in Jerusalem in 2002, Ari and Naomi Zivotofksy asked for a passport that recorded his birthplace as Israel, but they were granted the document only this Friday – some 18 years later.
“I am honored to receive this passport as a representative of the many American citizens who were born in Jerusalem, who can now have their official government documents reflect the fact that they were born in Israel,” said Menachem.
He spoke at a brief ceremony at the US embassy in Jerusalem, in which US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman officially handed him his passport, the first one ever to link Jerusalem with the State of Israel.
Until Friday, Americans born in Jerusalem could only list the city as their birthplace, but not Israel as the country, because under past US administrations Jerusalem had not been considered part of Israel.
The young man became the symbolic face of the issue that impacted thousands of Americans, after his parents filed a lawsuit with the help of attorneys Nathan and Alyza Lewin that made its way twice to the Supreme Court.
“I want to thank my parents who started this process, long before I understood anything,” Menachem said.
His parents told The Jerusalem Post prior to the ceremony that they had requested to register his place of birth as Israel, fully believing such a step would happen, because a 2002 US Congressional Law, which had just passed, gave them the option to do so.
They were surprised, therefore, when the consular office rejected their request.
The consular officer was “emphatic about it,” Ari said.
Although their legal appeal was argued twice before the US Supreme Court, they did not find redress. The court ultimately ruled that Congress had exceeded its authority and that the decision with regard to country designation was under the purview of the White House.
In a statement issued from the US, Nathan Lewin said that what had initially seemed like a defeat has turned into a victory.
“The court decision established conclusively that the president’s recognition decision is constitutionally immune from reversal by either of the other two branches of government,” he explained.
Menachem, a slim teen, who wore a white button-down shirt, black slacks and a skull cap, told the Post that it was exciting to be part of history.

The US decision to grant Americans born in Jerusalem the right to declare Israel as the country of their birth, was announced only on Thursday by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
It’s the latest in a series of moves the Trump administration has taken to reverse US policy on Jerusalem.
It first announced in 2017 that it recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. This was followed by the relocation of its embassy to Jerusalem in 2018.
But it was only on Thursday that this recognition filtered down into US policy, in a move that further solidified the US’s recognition that Jerusalem is part of Israel. Most countries have not taken this step because they hold that the status of all of Jerusalem, should be determined only upon resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The US has “always been keenly interested in Jerusalem going back to the time when the Pilgrim John Winthrop, before disembarking from his ship in Massachusetts Bay prayed that the God of Israel would help him build a new Jerusalem,” Friedman said at Friday’s small ceremony.
Jewish ties to the city go back at least 3,000 years to when King David established Jerusalem as the “capital of Israel,” Friedman said.
Congress recognized those ties when in 1995 it passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act that required the relocation of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
When no action was taken, Congress in 2002 passed the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, which allowed for Israel to be registered as a place of birth on the passports of those born in Jerusalem upon request.
Now, he explained, the Trump administration had corrected that injustice.
The city of Jerusalem has always been deeply ingrained in “America’s DNA,” because the founders understood that “the word of God, came from this special place, Friedman said.
PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi protested the US decision, explaining that the Palestinians rejected any link between Israel and the city of Jerusalem.
She affirmed that while Palestinians hold that east Jerusalem, which is under Israeli sovereignty, is the future capital of their state, they do not recognize the connection between West Jerusalem and Israel.
“The US State Department’s new decision to allow the labeling of Jerusalem as part of Israel in official US documents is a falsification of the city´s history and identity, in line with Israeli criminality and lawlessness.
“By adopting this measure, the US administration is also retroactively recognizing other illegal Israeli actions, including the ethnic cleansing of West Jerusalem and the grand theft of Palestinian property,” Ashrawi added.
“Jerusalem was, is, and will remain the heart of Palestine,” she said.