(CN) – The nation’s largest Arab American group filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of a Jerusalem-born American citizen who is seeking the right to put his birthplace as “Israel” on his passport.
Ari and Naomi Siegman Zivotofsky have been fighting for more than a decade to have the birthplace of the their son, Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky, listed on his birth certificate.
The problem, is that Menachem was born in Jerusalem, a city claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians and not recognized by the United States as being in any country.
As a result, under a longstanding policy, Zivotofsky’s birthplace is listed simply as “Jerusalem.” His parents went to court in 2003 to change it to “Jerusalem, Israel,” but the case has since refused to be settled.
In 2003, Congress passed a foreign-relations law that recognized Jerusalem as part of Israel, and required that Israel be recorded as the place of birth for Americans born in Jerusalem. But the White House balked, and neither former President George W. Bush or President Obama has enforced the law, saying it runs counter to U.S. policy in the Middle East.
In legal briefs, attorneys for Secretary of State John Kerry say the law, “impermissibly impinges on the Executive Branch’s exclusive constitutional authority to decide whether and on what terms to recognize a foreign sovereign.”
On Tuesday, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee filed an amicus brief supporting Kerry’s position, while dismissing the Zivotofsky’s lawsuit as “part of a broader attempt to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
The ADC says allowing American citizens born in Jerusalem to put “Israel” as their place of birth on their passport, while not allowing Palestinian-Americans born in Jerusalem to put Palestine as their place of birth on their passport would be blatantly discriminatory.
Additionally, the group says, a change to the “sensitive status” of Jerusalem is a decision that Congress is “ill-equipped to make unilaterally.”
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