TEL AVIV – The website for the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem ignores Jews and the state of Israel while providing news and services geared primarily toward Arabs and Palestinians, a pro-Israel group has charged.
“This disclosure is almost beyond belief,” stated Harvey Schwartz, chairman of American Israeli Action Coalition. “It is as if the United States is totally denying the existence of Israel or Israelis. We do not believe that this is in accordance with the will of the American people.”
The Coalition sent around blast e-mails pointing out the consulate website maintains an Arabic section but not a Hebrew one and that almost the entire website is dedicated to helping the Palestinian cause.
A WND review of the website yesterday found about a dozen announcements related to U.S. aid to the Palestinians, including English training provided to Palestinians schools; an item about a $200 million grant to the Palestinian Authority; and eight local grants provided to Arabs in eastern Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.
Not a single announcement was related to Israel except for a two-sentence item on the opening ceremony to mark the U.S. funding of an initiative to review Israel and Palestinian text books. But even that announcement was geared toward the PA.
“In attendance were religious leaders as well as a representative from the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Education and Higher Education,” read the brief statement.
The website further announces the availability of educational financial grants to candidates who must be “a Palestinian resident of the West Bank, East Jerusalem or the Gaza Strip,” thereby excluding Israelis.
One initiative announced on the site is a U.S. grant provided to the Palestinian Association for Cultural Exchange, a Palestinian nonprofit whose official website refers to the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem as “Palestinian areas” even though the territories contain historically Jewish biblical areas and are recognized by international law as either “disputed” or “occupied” but not as Palestinian areas.
Asked about these finds, a spokesperson for the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem told WND the “consulate is an independent mission. We are the U.S. representatives to the Palestinian Authority.”
That statement might be news to the Israeli residents of Jerusalem and the West Bank who use the consulate for visa and citizenship matters. Also, the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem is used by American citizens in Israel for all sorts of matters.
The consulate spokesperson added the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv is the official American representative to the State of Israel.
Even the embassy website, however, maintains an Arabic section but not a Hebrew one. Also that website features far more news items related to the PA and American programs for Palestinians than announcements related to Israel.
“The Obama administration’s continued efforts to marginalize Israel are becoming more evident daily,” said Schwartz. “The U.S. Consulate’s efforts demonstrate that those efforts are continuing unabated.”
In an advertisement, Schwartz’s group has called on concerned citizens to advise the White House and their elected representatives whether they believe the U.S. consulate is acting “consistent with American principles of fairness and decency.”
Consulate monitoring Jews house-to-house
Aside from a website geared toward Palestinians, WND broke the story last week that the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem also closely monitors and protests Jewish construction projects in eastern Jerusalem and the strategic West Bank.
Obama has called for a complete halt to what he refers to as settlement activity, meaning Jewish construction in eastern Jerusalem or the West Bank. Obama’s edict extends to natural growth, or accommodating for the housing needs of existing local settler population centers. The demand is an apparent abrogation of a deal Israel struck with the Bush administration to allow natural growth.
For the past few months, Obama’s Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, has protested to the highest levels of the Israeli government about evidence found of any Jewish housing expansion in those areas, informed Israeli officials said.
The officials, who spoke on condition that their names be withheld, said that last March Mitchell oversaw the establishment of an enhanced apparatus based in the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem that closely monitors the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods, incorporating regular tours of the areas, at times on a daily basis.
Previously, under the Bush administration, the consulate kept a general eye on Jewish Jerusalem and West Bank construction, receiving much of its information from nongovernmental organizations.
“Mitchell’s apparatus takes things to a whole new level. They are watching very closely,” said an Israeli official.
Jewish leaders in the West Bank said the consulate takes no pains to hide their activities.
“They come out. They tour our communities. They try to interact with our leadership,” David Ha’ivri, spokesman for the Shomron Regional Council in the West Bank, told WND.
“They drive around the towns, check up on what’s going on. They try to mingle with us to get more information on what we’re up to and what we’re doing,” he said.
Ha’ivri said the consular officials present themselves as advisers to the U.S. consul-general.
“But we know they are really spies for the Obama administration,” he said.
Jerusalem officials affirm the consular staff report to Obama’s envoy, Mitchell.