Last week, I noted that the home page of the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem is “Judenfrei,” making no reference to Israel or to Jews. Instead, it is devoted entirely to Palestinians.
Since then, Claudia Rosett has reported that the consulate in Jerusalem is “100 percent independent” of the embassy in Tel Aviv, reporting not to the U.S. Ambassador in Israel but directly to the Secretary of State in Washington. Nothing, it appears, will be allowed to expose this sanctuary for Palestinian interests to the taint of Israel.
It also turns out that the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem operated in a similar manner under the Bush administration. This isn’t surprising. We often harshly criticized the State Department’s approach to Israel during the Bush years, especially after Condoleezza Rice became Secretary of State.
Even so, the consulate’s home page seems more closely aligned with the vision of President Obama than with that of President Bush. Notwithstanding what the State Department may have desired, President Bush did not pick a fight with Israel over natural growth construction in core settlement blocs; to the contrary, the Bush administration apparently agreed that Israel could undertake such construction. Nor, to my knowledge, did his adminstration oppose the building of a dozen or two apartment units in East Jerusalem as the Obama administration recently did.
UPDATE: A reader asked the Jerusalem Consulate about its home page and received this explanation:
The Consulate General in Jerusalem handles representation to the Palestinian Authority, and also covers only Jerusalem municipality, the West Bank and Gaza. The U.S. embassy to Israel is in Tel Aviv, and their website is focused on the bilateral relationship with Israel.
For me, this response raises more questions than it answers. For example, is the consulate in Jerusalem exclusively devoted to “handling representation to the Palestinian Authority”? If so, why has the U.S. set up an operation in the capital city of Israel that handles no matters relating specifically to Israel? And who in Jerusalem, if anyone, performs the role that a U.S. consul normally would handle, such as providing assistance with bureaucratic issues (e.g., travel and trade) to Israeli citizens and to U.S. citizens traveling or living in Jerusalem who need to deal with the Israeli government (as opposed to the PA)?
And If not — if the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem is not exclusively devoted to Palestinian matters — then why does its home page exclude any material related to Israel?
U.S. politicians routinely argue in favor of moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and Congress passed legislation requring this. During the campaign, Barack Obama seemed to favor the move before pulling back. Recently, President Obama “deferred” the congressionally mandated move, as other presidents have.
Short of having our embassy in Jerusalem, it doesn’t seem like too much to ask that we have an oupost in the capital of Israel that is willing to deal with Israel.