'West Bank' Stamp Upsets American-Israeli Jews
GIVAT ZE'EV, Israel - The politics of Middle East peace is affecting some American-Israeli Jews living in the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria. The U.S State Department is stamping their passports with the pro-Palestinian term "West Bank" and they aren't happy about it.
Over the Line?
The Lessard family lives in Givat Ze'ev - a thriving community of 12,000 residents just two miles from Jerusalem. Washington calls it one of the occupied territories in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
However, some say that the State Department is going too far when it records the birth place for Americans like the Lessard's children. "We have home births, so he was really born here in the West Bank as the Americans like to call it," explained Jake Lessard. "We call it Judea and Samaria. This is Jewish land here. It's been Jewish land since the time of Abraham." In Jerusalem an estimated 1,000 Americans are born each year and their documents say only Jerusalem - no country is recorded for their birth - the only place in the world where that is the case.
Yisrael Medad says it's the principle that matters.
"It's injurious to Israel's position in the political, diplomatic world and doesn't make any sense," Medad said. According to Medad, no one has ever declared the West Bank a state and the Palestinians don't call it that. Still, the State Department insists on using it as an official location. "They are engaged in political diplomatic creationism," Medad said. "They are creating a state that doesn't exist. They take away Israel from Jerusalem but they add West Bank to Ramallah, Nablus or Bethlehem or Shiloh or Alon Shvut."
State Department's Stance
In response, the State Department told CBN News, "The final political status of Jerusalem has been in dispute since 1948 as a result of the long-standing Arab-Israeli conflict. The U.S. government has pursued a policy of encouraging the parties to that conflict to settle all outstanding issues - including the final status of Jerusalem - through peaceful negotiations between the parties with the support of the broader international community."
"Therefore, the U.S. government does not acknowledge the sovereignty of any state over Jerusalem," they concluded.
Regarding the West Bank, the State Department said the applicant can decide whether a settlement name or West Bank is listed as the place of birth.
The Lessards say they probably won't pursue changes to their children's documents, but Medad says he wants to see the White House take action.
"The White House should take the lead and tell the State Department 'cut out all this bureaucracy this is the situation,'" Medad said. "If it changes in some sort of future agreement, that's one thing."
"At the present moment we all know Jerusalem is the capital. Judea and Samaria are being administered by Israel," he said.
*Original Broadcast Date: October 21, 2009.