JERUSALEM — Immediately after reading the US Supreme Court’s decision today in Menachem Zirotofsky v. John Kerry, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote to the 12-year-old boy, who was born here in Jerusalem, offering Menachem the opportunity, despite his youth, to join the Israeli Defense Forces. A solitary reporter was in observance, albeit at a distance, as Netanyahu penned the letter.
In today’s 6-3 decision, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Court ruled that Menachem’s parents’ demand that the Department of State recognize the boy as having been born in Israel, rather than in Jerusalem, was without merit.
In 2002, Congress passed a law requiring the Department of State to certify that any American citizen born in Jerusalem be allowed, on his request, to have his or her passport show Israel, rather than Jerusalem, as the place of birth. That statute, The Foreign Relations Authorization Act, expressly contravened long-standing presidential policy declaring that the status of Jerusalem must be determined through international negotiations. The Court’s decision today was seen as a rebuke to Congress and a victory for President Obama.
The decision was a disappointment for House Speaker John Boehner, who invited Netanyahu to address a Joint Session of Congress earlier this year without consulting the White House, an extraordinary breach of protocol.
So Netanyahu told the solitary reporter that as soon as Menachem arrives in Israel, he will personally escort the youth to the top of Masada, overlooking the Dead Sea, where, in the year 73 of the Common Era, Jewish zealots committed mass suicide rather than submit to the Roman army, which had laid siege to Masada for seven years. Netanyahu will end Menachem’s initiation ceremony by asking the 12-year-old to say “Masada shall not fall again!” All new inductees into the IDF are required to articulate those words at Masada.
In Washington, a spokesman for Boehner issued a statement saying that the Speaker looks forward to inviting Netanyahu to Congress in the near future, again without consulting President Obama, to continue the ongoing conflagration between Republicans and Democrats.