The Jerusalem Post reports today that a young Israeli man was seriously beaten up yesterday outside a club in Jerusalem, by assailants who turned out to be employees of the American Consulate there. The perpetrators were arrested, but released because of diplomatic immunity. It remains to be seen what action, if any, will be taken.
In January 2008 there was an incident in which the US Consul, Jacob Walles, refused to open the doors of his vehicle at a checkpoint near Ramallah. In November 2009, diplomats from the Jerusalem Consulate refused to show their passports when trying to enter Israel from the Palestinian Authority; they held up traffic for several hours until American officials arrived from Tel Aviv and convinced them that they really did need to show their IDs:
“There are always provocations at the roadblocks with people from the consulate in Jerusalem,” said yesterday  a security official who was involved in the incident. “Their cars are driven by drivers from East Jerusalem who insist not to be inspected, despite the fact that they don’t have diplomatic immunity. We need to make sure that the people in question are diplomats, but that can’t be done through opaque black windows.”
Apparently there have been other such incidents.
The consulate in East Jerusalem provides services for American citizens who reside in Jerusalem, the ‘West Bank’ and Gaza (other Americans must go to the embassy in Tel Aviv). Here’s a description of the scene from 2005, quoted by Daniel Pipes:
The two U.S. consulates in Jerusalem could not be more different. The one in a Jewish neighborhood has ample parking facilities but does not provide consular services and so does not deal with the public. The one in an Arab neighborhood provides those services but has no parking available nearby. Ironically, of the tens of thousands of U.S. citizens who live in Jerusalem and surrounding communities, nearly all are Jews. This means that any citizens needing to renew a passport, report a birth, deal with Social Security, etc. must go there, at least part of the way on foot. Also, despite the fact that most American citizens in the Jerusalem area are Orthodox Jews with large families, no strollers are allowed. Babies and toddlers must be carried.
As far as one can see, nearly the entire staff at the consulate dealing with the public are Arabs, including the security guards, clerks, ushers, cashiers, et al. The only reading material available in the waiting area is the State Dept’s, Hi International magazine – in Arabic, of course. The whole set-up feels like a slap in the face to the American citizens it is meant to serve.
The East Jerusalem consulate has always been the de facto American embassy in ‘Palestine’. Last year the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) called on the consulate to
…revamp its Web site so that it contains information about Israelis and Israel, which is where the Consulate General is located. Presently, the Consulate General’s Web site contains information exclusively about the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Palestinians – even though the PA has no authority in Jerusalem under any signed agreement – suggesting that the Consulate General itself is biased against Israel.
Naturally, the protest was ignored, since the US does not accept Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem (even West Jerusalem). One would think that even given this position there would some mention of Jews or Israel on the website, since the great majority of Americans in the consulate’s area of responsibility are Jews, and often dual citizens of the US and Israel.
Like the recent self-conscious use of the name “al-Quds” for Jerusalem by the president’s clueless ‘counter-terrorism advisor’ John Brennan, the attitude of the consulate is a slap against Israel and a genuflection to the Arabs. Since the consulate is under the authority of the hostile State Department, it has been this way even under more or less friendly administrations such as those of Clinton and Bush. But the Obama administration seems to be on the same page as the State Department, and sees itself as the new Mandate power in the region.
I suppose the beating in Jerusalem will be put down as just another case of drunken Americans behaving badly. But it is not too different than the bullying approach of the administration, which — like most bullies — seems to combine obsequiousness to its ‘betters’ with brutality to those in its power.