I went to the US Consulate this week to take care of certain family business. It was a thoroughly unpleasant experience. I think it is ironic that two days after my extremely unpleasant experience at the consulate, State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland refused to say what the capital of Israel is. It was ironic because anyone who visits the consulate knows that the US’s position on Jerusalem is in perfect alignment with that of Israel’s worst enemies.
Last time I went to the consulate was in 2007. At that time the building was located in the middle of an Arab neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem. It was unpleasant. In fact it was fairly frightening. Once inside the building I couldn’t shake the feeling that the Americans had gone out of their way to make Israeli-American Jews feel uncomfortable and vaguely threatened.
But then, I was able to console myself with the thought that the US has been upfront about its rejection of Israel’s right to assert its sovereignty over eastern Jerusalem. By treating Jews as foreigners in their capital city and behaving as though it belongs to the Arabs by among other things hiring only Arabs as local employees, the US officials on site were simply implementing a known US policy. True, I deeply oppose the policy, but no one was asking me, and no one was hiding anything from me.
The new consulate is much different, and much worse. The State Department opened its new consulate in Jerusalem in October 2010. It is located in the Jewish neighborhood of Arnona. It was built on the plot that Israel allocated for the US Embassy after Congress passed Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995 requiring the US government to move its embassy to Jerusalem. I read that construction began in 2004. I haven’t been able to find out whether when construction began it was to build the embassy or a new consulate so I don’t know yet whether the Bush administration thought it was building an embassy that the Obama administration turned into a consulate or if the Bush administration thought it was building a consulate that the Obama administration completed.
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By Caroline Click, from her blog