Thursday, June 24, 2010

US State Department vs. The Settlers.

The other day I traveled to the US Embassy in Tel-Aviv to apply for a social security number for my son. Despite the "official" policy of the US Embassy's refusal to provide any consular services or "Federal Benefits Unit" services to any resident of the "West Bank", the majority of the time it's not a problem. As recent as 8 months ago, we took care of passports and US birth certificate issuance at the US Embassy Tel-Aviv, and they knew we lived in the Shomron.

The other day however, after taking care of all my paperwork, stamping everything, and I was getting ready to leave the window, the embassy window person said, "Uh Oh, You live in the Shomron"...and she pushed all the paperwork back through the slot in the window.

"You'll have to reapply in the East Jerusalem consulate, since we only service US citizens in Israel, not from the territories," she said abruptly.

"But you issued my son's birth certificate and passport here 8 months ago," I added.

"You'll have to reapply in the East Jerusalem consulate, since we only service US citizens in Israel, not from the territories."

Last week IDF radio informed me that the US State Department has issued a new travel advisory, for all American citizens to avoid "East Jerusalem". The official advisory on the US Consulate website simple said, "exercise caution"...around Salah Ed-Din Street, which as you can see below, is right next "Derech Shechem"...the location of the Jerusalem Consulate that I'm forced to visit.

"Travelers should exercise caution at religious sites on holy days, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Isolated street protests and demonstrations can also occur in areas of East Jerusalem, including around Salah Ed-Din Street, Damascus Gate, and the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood."

I guess the US Embassy doesn't really care about exposing US citizens to danger.

What I did find annoying was the "security update" on the US State Department website (linked from the Tel Aviv Embassy homepage) -- the State Department's narrative of events looks like it was written by Helen Thomas.

The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to exercise caution when traveling to the West Bank. Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces are now deployed throughout the West Bank, including all major cities. As a result, violence in recent years has decreased markedly throughout the West Bank

The violence didn't decrease because of PA security forces, but because the IDF weeded out thousands of terrorists (many of them from PA security forces). Only once things were quiet, did the IDF slowly allow for PA forces to be deployed. The State Department wants to give credit to those who deserve it the least.

Two interesting statements:

In Gaza:

Occasional small clashes continue to occur along the border. Rockets and mortars are still occasionally fired into Israel from Gaza, and the IDF continues to conduct military operations inside Gaza, including airstrikes.

Who is responsible for these "small clashes" or the rockets and mortar fire? Don't worry, the IDF is named as conducting "military operations" inside Gaza.

In Yehuda vShomron (West Bank):

Nonetheless, demonstrations and violent incidents can occur without warning. Vehicles have also been the target of rocks, Molotov cocktails and gunfire on West Bank roads.

No mention of who is involved in these incidents, nor who throws the rocks, molotov cocktails or who is shooting guns.

So who is the guilty party?

U.S. citizens can be caught in the middle of potentially dangerous situations. Some U.S. citizens involved in demonstrations in the West Bank have sustained serious injuries in confrontations with Israeli settlers and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Israeli settlers!?

Palestinian Terrorists are not named in this entire "security warning". Hamas is only mentioned in passing as:

Israel and Hamas, a State Department-designated foreign terrorist organization that violently seized power in Gaza in June 2007, declared separate truces to end the fighting.

Despite the US State Department's attempts to besmirch the settlers, whitewash Palestinian and Islamic terror, and make it difficult to obtain a social security number for my son, I'm not leaving my home.

PS: For all those living in Modi'in, the State Department says its "ok" to travel on 443, provided you ONLY travel there DURING DAYLIGHT HOURS.

U.S. Government personnel and family members are permitted both official and personal travel on Route 443 between Modi'in and Jerusalem without prior notification, during daylight hours only.

In Israel this summer?

Call the US for the price of a Local call!

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד


Yonatan said...

Jameel, I ventured into your territory for the first time since moving here. We looked at Neve Tzuf, and I thoroughly enjoyed the visit.

Where do you live? I have a lot more searching and exploring to do this summer!

Take care - Yonatan

NormanF said...

Jameel, Obama wants you to move out of your home. That is, if Netanyahu and Barak don't hurry along to do it first for him. After all, you're only "a settler." That's how it began in Gaza with the inhabitants of Gush Katif and that is how the world would like to see it end with every last Jew now living in Yesha.

Anonymous said...

And you have not mentioned the problems that Israeli citizens living in Yehuda and shomron experience when they want to get a visa for the US (especially those who look sefardi).

We know of a girl who was set up to do national service in the US, and at the last minute did not get a visa!

Shmilda said...

Simple solution: create a long line of Jewish US Citizens at the (East)Jerusalem Consulate. The complaint is always that the consulate caters only to Arabs - make them deal with thousands of Jewish births, marriages, passport renewals, etc.

Leah Goodman said...

what kind of proof of address do they ask for?

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

LeahGG: They didnt ask for ANY proof of address. I could have written Herziliya and that would have worked.

Shmilda: make them deal with thousands of Jewish births, marriages, passport renewals, etc. Customer Service isn't essential...besides, you need an appointment, so there are no actual lines, only "virtual" ones for appointments.

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