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US Embassy, Consulate Cater to Arabs

The Jerusalem US Consulate serves 600,000 Jews, but its website is devoted to helping Arabs only. The Tel Aviv US Embassy also panders to Arabs.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 8/6/2009, 9:42 AM

Israel news photo

The American Consulate in “eastern Jerusalem” serves 600,000 Jews in the “occupied territories” of Judea and Samaria and many parts of Jerusalem, but its website at http://jerusalem.usconsulate.gov is devoted to helping Arabs only. English and Arabic are the two languages used by workers, and its telephone answering system does not offer an option for Hebrew.

The Tel Aviv-based American embassy website also tries to woo Israeli Arabs more than it does Americans or Israeli Jews.

The United States officially regards as “occupied territory” all of Judea and Samaria and all parts of Jerusalem, including the Old City and the Western Wall (Kotel), that were restored to the Jewish State in the Six-Day War in 1967. Consulate officials explained the designation of “occupied” areas is why the site caters only to Arabs.

American policy requires all residents of “eastern Jerusalem,” including French Hill and Gilo as well as those living in Judea and Samaria, to use the Consulate for passports and other services for citizens. Officials told Israel National News that the embassy in Tel Aviv may be used in emergencies, but the consulate’s website shows no signs that it serves Jews at all.

Three news briefs on the current Consulate site tell readers that the United States helped Beit Jalla, adjacent to Bethlehem, to build a new public library, handed out 300 free tickets for Arab children to watch a Disney movie in Shechem and sponsored a summer camp for 450 Arabs in Judea and Samaria and Gaza.

One article features an American grant “to preserve Palestinian cultural heritage” and includes a grant to the Palestinian Association for Cultural Exchange (PACE), to “assist three historic villages in the West Bank – Beitin, Aboud, and Al-Jib – to preserve their cultural heritage and promote tourist destinations, while also raising awareness among residents of the villages about their cultural heritage.”
One article features an American grant 'to preserve Palestinian cultural heritage.'

The PACE group refers on its websites to “unstable political conditions in the Palestinian Areas in the past, and espicially [sic] since the beginning of the current uprising "Intifada", resulted in tremenous dammage [sic] to the region's cultural heritage.”

The Consulate’s news page headlines the recent American government’s “supporting” the Palestinian Authority with a $200 million grant. Another item quotes U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as saying, “Arab states have a responsibility to support the Palestinian Authority.”

The site invites Arabs to apply for eight grants “in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.” No assistance or programs are offered for Jewish residents of the same areas. The site also touts an American-funded Arab camp that “stimulates critical thinking in Palestinian youth."

The American Israeli Action Coalition (AIAC) has charged that the Jerusalem Consulate website in effect “is totally denying the existence of Israel or Israelis.” AIAC chairman Harvey Schwartz commented. "The Obama administration's continued efforts to marginalize Israel are becoming more evident daily. The U.S. Consulate's efforts…demonstrate that those efforts are continuing unabated."

Tel Aviv Embassy Site also Panders to Arabs

The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv does not offer much news for American Jews, either. It highlights a program for the Lower Galilee Kadoorie School, which is primarily used for Arabs. The summer program for English teachers, which also attracted several Jewish teachers, focused on teaching Black American history.

The current embassy website also features U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announcing an American grant of $200 million to the Palestinian Authority. “The ability of the United States to provide support directly to the Palestinian Authority is an indication of the bipartisan support for the effort to secure the peace in the Middle East, as well as for the fundamental reforms that the Palestinian Authority has undertaken," she said in a statement on the website.

An Embassy spokesman explained to Israel National News that it posts "articles and items that it thinks will interest visitors to the site.” He pointed out that the Embassy serves Jews as well as Arabs for all American citizens’ services.

The Embassy’s “Human Rights Report: Israel and the Occupied Territories” is implicitly critical of Israel as a Jewish state and of the authority of rabbis who act according to traditional Jewish law.

Under the subtitle “Freedom of Religion,” the Embassy site states, “The Basic Law and Declaration of Independence recognize the country as a ‘Jewish and democratic state,’ while also providing for full social and political equality, regardless of religious affiliation. The government recognized only Orthodox Jewish religious authorities in personal and some civil status matters concerning Jewish persons. The government implemented policies including marriage, divorce, education, burial, and observance of the Sabbath based on Orthodox Jewish interpretation of religious law, and allocations of state resources favored Orthodox Jewish institutions.”

The Embassy points out that religious minorities do not receive the same amount of money as Jews on a proportionate basis and notes that “unrecognized communities" were ineligible for government funding although they are allowed to practice their religion freely.

It also charges that “many Jewish citizens objected to exclusive Orthodox control over aspects of their personal lives” without noting that traditional Judaism has been the basis of the Jewish people for 3,500 years.

The Embassy appears to complain that “legal missionaries faced harassment and discrimination by some hareidi (Ultra-Orthodox) Jewish activists and organizations and certain local government officials.” It did not state that public missionary activity is illegal in Israel although the government widely ignores some activities. The Embassy also points out incidents that illustrate alleged denial of rights to missionaries.

Other sections of the article repeatedly point out specific incidents that are critical of Israel's behavior towards non-Jews and terrorists.

The Embassy website specifically blames Israel for the plight of tens of thousands of Bedouin, who by practicing polygamy, generally forbidden under Israeli law, become a majority in many Negev areas and have taken over thousands of acres of government lands. However, the site states that Bedouin “unrecognized villages” are “made up mostly of tents and shacks, evolved as a result of the government's refusal to recognize Bedouin land claims based on traditional usage prior to the establishment of the state.”

It does not point out that tents and shacks are historically traditional shelters for many Bedouin in order to enable them to easily dismantle and move them as they change locations with the seasons to graze their flocks in different areas of the country.

Regarding terrorists, the Embassy freely quotes PA media and the anti-Israeli B’Tselem group, both of which have been documented by media watchdogs and government agencies as issuing deceptive and false reports.

The Embassy report noted that PA media often broadcast anti-Semitic content and incitement to carry out terrorist attacks, but, trying to strike a balance, it adds, “Israeli settler radio stations often depicted Arabs as subhuman and called for Palestinians to be expelled from the West Bank. Some of this rhetoric contained religious references.”