November 2011 Archives

Remember this?

Flashback:  William F. Buckley, National Review, 2/15/2006, speculating on the Western response to the victory of Hamas in the January 25 elections:

. . .

We are dealing with a movement that decades ago was illegalized by the Egyptian government. But the Muslim Brotherhood persisted and in the parliamentary election last fall showed their gathering strength. Accordingly, on the same weekend in which Hamas faced economic ostracism, Mubarak announced a postponement by two years of scheduled local elections. This was a visible sign of fright, that democracy was on the move, and that a religious organization which has engaged in violent activities, and is banned, threatens the plans of Mubarak, which were to hand Egypt over to his son. Observers with minimal liberal sensibilities welcome most moves against Mubarak, but not any move against him, because he has stayed outside the clutches of the Islamic totalists and because his country was the first Mideast power to acknowledge and to respect Israeli independence. The prospect of the Muslim Brotherhood overwhelming Egypt and collaborating with the mullahs' Iran reminds us of the risks that democracy can bring.

It is a bitter pill to swallow, to see the United States and Israel forthrightly attempting to subvert democracy in Palestine. But the first law in this sermon is that democracy's fruits sometimes need either to be stillborn or else to be resisted.

In yesterday's PJ Media column promoting his (and LInda Bridges') recently published anthology of Buckley's writings, Roger Kimball wrote:

Literature, said Ezra Pound, is news that stays news. I have met few people better informed about public affairs than Bill Buckley. But his mastery of the day's ephemera was only a prelude to his embrace of the principles that underlay the controversies.

So it would seem.

Zivotofsky - disturbing exchange

What happens if there is a peace accord tomorrow, and Israel gives up any claim to sovereignty over Jerusalem? Is the President free to stop listing Israel on the passport?
Thus Justice Sonia Sotomayor yesterday, when the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Zivotofsky v. Clinton

The case has its origin in the attempt of U.S. citizens Ari and Naomi Zivotofsky to have the birthplace of their son Menachem shown on his U.S. passport as "Israel."  Menachem was born in 2002 at Shaare Zedek hospital, which is located in western Jerusalem, near Har Herzl, which is well within the "1967 borders." 

But the State Department, in its wisdom [sic], has had an official policy since at least 1970 to designate the birthplace of those born anywhere in Jerusalem as "Jerusalem," with no reference to a country.  This is ostensibly because U.S. foreign policy regards sovereignty over Jerusalem to be an issue for resolution between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and wishes to remain "neutral" in the meantime.  Right.

There are many twists, turns and legal aspects to this case, but I want to focus for the moment on this exchange that took place yesterday between Justice Sotomayor and Nathan Lewin, the attorney representing the Zivotofskys. 

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: Mr. Lewin, you were cut off earlier when you were saying this reading doesn't hobble the President in the future.

It says anybody born in -- in Jerusalem can have Israel listed, correct? What happens if there is a peace accord tomorrow, and Israel gives up any claim to sovereignty over Jerusalem? Is the President free to stop listing Israel on the passport?


JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: Or does he have to wait for Congress to change the law?

MR. LEWIN: I think he does have to wait for Congress to change the law.

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: So you are hobbling the President with respect to situations that occur frequently -

MR. LEWIN: Well -

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: -- as happened in Egypt, sometimes overnight.

MR. LEWIN: No, but it may in some way, in a very remote possible way -- I mean, I think under those circumstances, if there were a peace treaty and if Jerusalem were handed over to a Palestinian state, I think Congress would repeal the statute.

That's the point. Congress has the power, has the authority under the Constitution to enact laws, and it is Congress that makes the decision even with regard to foreign policy issues.

I do understand that during oral argument a justice can propose any far fetched hypothetical scenario he or she believes may clarify a point or better define an argument.  But one of the disturbing things about this whole issue of birthplace designation, which I've raised many times before, is that the official position of the State Department, which appears to be echoed here (perhaps inadvertently) by Justice Sotomayor, is a return in negotiations not to Israel's 1967 borders (a/k/a the 1949 armistice lines) but to the completely untenable 1947 borders as drawn in the UN Partition Plan, under which Jerusalem was an "international" city under UN control.  Why else would "Jerusalem" (as opposed to "East Jerusalem") be included with the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the West Bank as areas in which the State Department prohibits a passport to show "Israel" as the birthplace?  And why would a Supreme Court justice posit the utterly absurd hypothetical that Israel would ever "give up any claim to sovereignty over Jerusalem" as part of any accord or negotiation?

Again, the question:

What happens if there is a peace accord tomorrow, and Israel gives up any claim to sovereignty over Jerusalem? Is the President free to stop listing Israel on the passport?
Couldn't the same question be asked of Haifa or Jaffa or Beersheva?

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