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Press Release

ADL Asks Supreme Court To Recognize Right Of Citizens Born In Jerusalem To Have 'Israel' Listed On U.S. Passport

New York, NY, August 5, 2011 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today filed an amicus brief calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to support the right of American citizens born in Jerusalem to have their place of birth listed as "Israel" on their birth certificates and American passports.

"Americans born in Jerusalem should have the same right to indicate their country of birth on their passport that is currently available to other American citizens born abroad, and that is what Congress has mandated," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "The purpose of a passport is for identification, and it is indisputable that Jerusalem is in Israel. The Supreme Court should insist that the State Department follow the law."

In its amicus brief, the League argues the State Department is failing to act in accordance with a law enacted by Congress and signed by the President. Joining the ADL brief are 10 other major American Jewish organizations and an ad hoc association representing American citizens born in Jerusalem, who have signed on to support the lawsuit, Zivotofsky v. Clinton, over the last two weeks.

The names of Americans born in Jerusalem are still being collected on the Web site of the ad hoc "Association of Proud American Citizens Born in Jerusalem, Israel," which was established to raise awareness of the issue and legal challenge. More than 120 American citizens have registered so far.

"We are proud to have assembled the most significant and broad-based coalition of American Jewish organizations in recent memory," Mr. Foxman said. "We are all united in the belief that this is an issue that transcends Israeli-Palestinian politics. As the brief clearly states, there is no need for the Supreme Court to reach into any aspect of the Middle East conflict in deciding this case."

The suit asks the Court to direct the State Department to comply with the 2002 law which directs the Secretary of State, "upon the request of the citizen or the citizen's legal guardian, [to] record the place of birth as Israel." The State Department manual currently provides that the passports of American citizens born in Jerusalem must say "Jerusalem," reflecting official U.S. government policy regarding the unresolved status of Jerusalem.

Other organizations signing the brief include the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, B'nai B'rith International, Hadassah, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the National Council of Jewish Women, the National Council of Young Israel, the Rabbinical Assembly, the Union for Reform Judaism, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and the Women's League for Conservative Judaism. 

The brief was prepared by Michael S. Gardener, Jeffrey S. Robbins and Ari N. Stern of the firm Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. in Boston.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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Update

March 26, 2012

The Supreme Court, in its March 26, 2012 ruling, directed a lower court to review the Zivotofskys’ claim on the merits, rejecting the argument that the issue at stake was a “political question” inappropriate for court resolution. More

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