A Canadian immigrant has lost his court battle to have his birthplace, Jerusalem, recognized as part of Israel on his passport as Ottawa insists it must remain neutral on the contested holy city.

The Supreme Court refused Thursday to hear the appeal of Eliyahu Veffer, who immigrated to Canada about 12 years ago and wanted his Canadian passport to show he was born in “Jerusalem, Israel.”

“The decision means that Veffer has no further legal remedy in Canada for the differential treatment he faces under the policy,” David Matas, Veffer’s attorney, said in a statement.

Veffer’s passport states only his birth city with no reference to any country because Canada does not want to be seen as taking sides in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians over claims to the holy city, officials said.

Matas argued unsuccessfully in federal court that Canada allows people to choose which state appears in their passport if a birth city is in disputed territory. But Jerusalem is an exception to this policy.

[Full story]

… but since the rule is exceptional, it does sound arbitrary to me.

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froylein

43 Comments

  • The main source of this issue is that Canada (like almost every other nation on earth) is reluctant to recognize Jerusalem (esp. the old city) as the capital of Israel or of Palestine.

    The argument is that until the issue is resolved they simply print “Jerusalem” with no country on the passport.

  • TomC, most states of the Northwestern hemisphere have recognized Israel as a state – with the capital Jerusalem. Most states of the northwestern hemisphere have got diplomatic relationships with Israel – and their ambassadors placed in Jerusalem.
    If the Canadian policy usually is to let the person issued the passport to choose between one state or the other if there are two states claiming a city its capital, then Jerusalem should be no exception.

  • As a Canuck, I think this decision makes perfect sense. Not only is Canada adhering to the UN, but there wasn’t any reason for the Supreme Court to review this case. In order for a case to be seen by the Supreme Court, there has to be a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Veffer claimed that this was anti-semitism, thus it should be reviewed by the court. He, nor his lawyer, could actually make a strong argument for anti-semitism. The courts most likely rejected this case based on lack of merit.

  • There are double-standards applied, pretty obviously so; even if you don’t go in line with Veffer’s religious argumentation. The UN also recognizes the state of Israel with Jerusalem as its capital while pushing for a shared-capital solution. To me it just sounds as if Canadian authorities are shying away from the diplomatic consequences going in line with their very own policies might result in.

    Rabbi, please make sure my two fav Canucks don’t get too much beer the weekend after next. 🙂

  • I don’t mean to cause offense, but Jerusalem is decidedly NOT recognized as Israel’s capital by almost every country in the world, whether from the West or not. I believe there isn’t even one foreign embassy that still maintains a presence in the city. Internationally, whether under the auspices of the UN or general diplomatic terms, Jerusalem is considered to be an “occupied” city and Israel’s annexation of the city is rejected by all except Israel itself.

    I don’t know that the above justifies not stating that this man was born in Israel on his passport.

  • Middle, the EU states recognize Jerusalem as the capital; Germany, as the biggest contributor to the EU, might be a pushing factor there, but it does make for the largest number of north-western states. The German cabinet will even hold a common session with the Israeli cabinet in Jerusalem in March. Not only are the embassies there, but major foreign political institutions, such as the Goethe Institut, have got their HQ in Jerusalem as well. I wish US journalists stopped feeding people so much crap about Europe.

  • Sorry, Middle, for all I know (from people working there), they do have offices in Jerusalem – just as the US has got an embassy in Berlin and a consulate in Frankfurt. Germany afterall is Israel’s second-most important business partner right after the US, and the EU the second-largest financial supporter of Israel right after the US.

  • Sorry, but if countries were moving there embassies to TA to offend Israel, they’d cut off diplomatic ties with Israel altogether. I admit I wasn’t aware of those moves as it’s been a while since I was in Israel, but this does not mean that most European states question the state of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, whether the heads-of-states / governments would individually favour a split capital solution or whatnot.

  • And what about the many other, earlier day UN resolutions? (Those resolutions are not even legally binding the UN’s members to any serious extents.) What about the individual European states’ takes on Israel?

  • But Froylein, what more can I show you? I’ve shown you the Goethe’s own website, the German embassy’s own website, the UN resolution on the subject, a comprehensive list of every embassy of every country with which Israel has relations – all of them in Tel Aviv and the EU’s head office in Ramat Gan.

    There is international consensus that Jerusalem is not the recognized capital of Israel. It’s upsetting and it’s wrong, but it is the way things are. The Germans and Europeans are the same as everybody else and even the US can’t bring itself to establish its embassy in Jerusalem even with a law on the books requiring the President to move the embassy there.

  • Froylein,

    Most states don’t touch the Jerusalem question with a 10 foot pole. Even the US keeps waffling about moving the embassy there. I was providing context for understanding.

    Furthermore, this is not the fight we should be fighting in Canada. I would suggest that the Canadian Jewish community has bigger fights than this one and that this is not the most pressing issue before our community. If American Jews don’t like it, well, too bad.

  • Froylein, there are two types of resolutions at the UN: General Assembly and Security Council. The former are not binding under international law and are considered “suggestions.” The Partition Resolution, 181, and the so called “right of return” resolution, 194, are under UNGA auspices and therefore not binding.

    However, UNSC resolutions are deemed to be binding under international law, particularly if they reside under auspices of Chapter VII rules. Theoretically, those resolutions under Chapter VI rules (which are the norm) are not binding under international law but that is under dispute, as I understand it.

    If you read Israel foreign ministry positions on UN Security Council resolutions, they accept their legality entirely. The interpretation might differ in some circumstances, which is the case for example with UNSCR 242 and 338 and how the Israelis and the Palestinians each interpret them, but acceptance of these resolutions is not up for discussion. When Israel left Lebanon, it explicitly sought a UN statement that it had fully complied with UNSCR 425.

  • Middle, the link I gave you above is to Germany’s official political educational material provider (run by the government) that lists Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. I admitted above I was wrong about the re-located embassies, but as I said, had any of those states wanted to offend Israel, they’d have cut off ties with Israel altogether – and the EU would not vote for spendings on Israel either. News favourable of the EU are sorely missed in publications over there.

    TomC, Canada is part of America. Like it or not. And either a state administration’s got a guideline to go by or it may proceed like a proverbial banana republic.

  • But officially Germany does not accept Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. These states are offending Israel but it is not in their or Israel’s interests to cut off ties entirely or even a little. The EU does not accept Jerusalem either, and with all due respect to any funding they provide to Israel, it tends to be for Left-oriented projects. The trade agreements in place are a positive development, but once again have nothing to do with Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Apparently, it’s possible to have relations when you don’t agree on everything.

  • Middle, how much more official than a government site does it get? How do you know where EU-funding goes to and to what extent it is confined to specific projects?

  • Um, I read up on the EU?

    “Middle, how much more official than a government site does it get?”

    Well, if the government website says X and the embassy location says Y, I tend to believe Y. Do you think the EU opened its offices in Ramat Gan by accident or because the rent is cheaper? Your government, like all governments, does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and this is reinforced by the location of the diplomats and even, in this case, of your vaunted Goethe Institut.

  • I’ve just scanned through the file, and most projects would be considered “humanist” in Europe, decidedly not left-wing.

  • Froylein, Adalah, BTselem, Machsom Watch are certainly left-wing organizations. The other projects in there are all related to supposed discrimination against Israeli Arabs. The funding’s bias is so clear it is laughable if all these organizations didn’t constantly seek to undermine Israel’s image abroad and at home with some of the most aggressive and serious positions on the left side of the political spectrum. Adalah wants Israel to write a constitution that includes a provision calling 1948 a Naqba.

  • Development aid is usually based on a low HDI; Israel’s is high (0.932 in 2005), so development aid is not what can be expected. Business? Germany’s #2 import country of Israeli products, the rate of agricultural imports from Israel has been rising lately. Education? There’s academic collaboration between Germany and Israel, not only in realms of Judaic studies, but also science and medical studies. Most German universities are state-run. Israeli students with sufficient language skills or readiness to learn the language (in classes offered for free), just as any other foreign students, may study at German universities and, depending on their performance, qualify for several public scholarships. Those things are free of any bias, yet they do exist and shape public awareness over here more than any organization of no recognition over here. Several of the projects, going by their description, promote intercultural communication between all kinds of groups in Israel. In Europe, we’d not consider this leftist.

  • Froylein, these are left wing organizations. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

    As for development aid, I think Israel is better off not getting any and by the looks of the organizations receiving the EU aid, I would argue that Israel is better off not having any of that aid come into Israel at all. Basically, the EU is funding groups that turn around and publish ongoing attacks on Israel.

  • Israel wouldn’t even be applicable for development aid. Its HDI is almost as high as Germany’s, and we live incredibly well over here.

  • Rabbi, it doesn’t matter where the Democrats are on this issue, no American President is going to move the embassy to Jerusalem even though Congress has passed a bill to this effect. We’ve seen this with the past Administrations, the current one and you can bet that the same will hold true for any future ones. It is understood by all that if the US wants to play broker between the Israelis and Palestinians, it cannot take this step until after the two sides come to some sort of agreement on Jerusalem.

  • My understanding is that El Salvador remains the only nation-state with real cojones: they alone officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and has its embassy located therein: a sign of diplomatic solidarity.

    Interestingly enough, Costa Rica pulled a Judas last year by retreating from Jerusalem – relocating its embassy to balmy Tel Aviv. These policies of disengagement are “rich” all right. Knot. Reeks of mammon, I tell you, like the “Rich Coast’s” betrayal of Taiwan (who have their own “recognition” difficulties themselves to grapple with), siding with more lucrative and tyrannical Commie China, who bated the Costa Ricans with economic overtures.

    Furthermore, to reiterate a quote by the Forefather of Hamastine, August 28, 2000, promising B’nai B’rith, in return for voting the Bushman into the coveted Anglo House: “Something else will happen should I be elected: as soon as I take office I will begin the process of moving the U.S. ambassador to the city Israel has chosen as its capital.”

    Just mere, diplomatic Babel-Bubkis. Mr. Bush has yet to follow through with his hollow promises; instead, forcing his appeasement policies down Israel’s throat; the warmonger has yet to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem or begin the process, signing the waiver, at every six-month interval ever since, to notify Congress of his dastard intention to ignore the legislation.

    Liar, liar, cowboy jeans on fire…

  • froylein,

    What do you really expect from the nations of the world?

    If Israel treats itself like dirt do you expect more from the nations?

    When Israel takes the steps necessary for its survival which is to toss the Arab enemy out and annex all that belongs to Israel instead of waffling only then can we hope for better news.

  • Joeschmo, I’ve meant to ask you this for a while now: there’s a (Jewish) stripper, oooops, exotic dancer in Manhattan that uses the screenname “Joeschmo”. Are you him?

  • sadly, that’s how we roll here in canada… one of the few things that would make me embarrassed about living here :S

  • No idea froylein, although I am curious to check out who it is.

    On which site does he/she use that screen name?

  • “Rabbi, it doesn’t matter where the Democrats are on this issue, no American President is going to move the embassy to Jerusalem even though Congress has passed a bill to this effect.”

    Every U.S. president since Reagan has pledged to move the embassy to Jerusalem. None have had the courage to do so.

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