Rivlin to Dempsey: I was born in Jerusalem and I am Israeli

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — “I was born in Jerusalem and I am Israeli,” President Reuven Rivlin told Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff during a meeting at his residence.

Rivlin was referring to this week’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Americans citizens born in Jerusalem cannot list Israel as their birthplace on their U.S. passports, during his meeting on Wednesday with Dempsey in Jerusalem.

Rivlin is a seventh generation Jerusalemite who was born nine years before Israel became a state.

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“Of course we have no criticism of the decision of the Supreme Court in Washington. We salute the rule of law, and we appreciate and understand that they have decided not upon if Jerusalem is part of Israel or not, but who is going to decide upon those matters once it is a matter that goes between the Congress and the administration and the president,” he said, according to the Times of Israel website.

Rivlin thanked Dempsey for his friendship during the meeting. “We are proud to have you as a friend.  We salute and appreciate you, and your friendship will be well remembered,” he said according to a statement issued by the president’s office.

During a discussion of the threat posed by Iran and the ongoing civil war in Syria, Rivlin said: “It was commonly thought that the enemy of your enemy was your friend.  However, we know that this is no longer necessarily the case. For us it is not a theoretical or hypothetical issue.  This is a very real threat to the citizens of Israel – Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike.”

Dempsey said his meetings with security officials in Israel are “necessary for us to face the security challenges that face not only Israel but the United States. You have our deep commitment to continue to build on that relationship, but you don’t have to thank me, this is something we are honored to be part of.”

It is Dempsey’s sixth visit to Israel.

On Tuesday, Dempsey met for the first time with his Israeli counterpart, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot. Israel and the IDF have “no greater friend on the face of the Earth than the United States military,” Dempsey said prior to the meeting, after receiving a badge of appreciation from Eisenkot at a ceremony and honor guard held at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv.

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