Both Jews and Muslims celebrated holidays in September 2009. However, the United States Consulate in Jerusalem – America's representative in Israel's capital – chose to focus entirely on Islam this year, while ignoring the Jewish holidays of Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur completely.
The Consulate's website features Eid il-Fitr greetings from U.S. President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Consul General Daniel Rubinstein. Its staff was involved in Ramadan celebrations in Jenin and Shechem, and hosted a meal in Jericho for the Muslim holiday of Iftar.
Clinton's greeting was published on September 19 – the first day of Rosh HaShana. However, no mention was made of the Jewish holiday.
All three holiday wishes from American leaders to Muslims were apolitical, and focused on messages such as “personal reflection” and “charity.” In contrast, President Obama's Rosh HaShana greeting, which is not on the site, included a brief promotion of his Israel-Palestinian Authority peace plan.
Snub Follows Admission that Consulate Caters to PA
The High Holidays snub follows an admission in August that the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem views itself as America's representative to the PA, while the embassy in Tel Aviv is seen as the representative to Israel. Consulate staff explained that they are “the principal representation to the Palestinian Authority” in an email to a Jewish American concerned by the lack of balance in consulate events.
The admission angered many American citizens in Israel. America's apparent recognition of the PA's claim to rights in Jerusalem was seen as a slap in the face, particularly because America takes care not to recognize Israeli rights in the capital city despite more than 40 years of Israeli sovereignty in the greater Jerusalem area.
The U.S. has repeatedly declined to move its embassy to Jerusalem, the seat of Israel's government, and American citizens born in Jerusalem are not registered as having been born in Israel.
Embassy Ignores Judaism as Well
While admitting that U.S. representatives in Jerusalem cater to the PA, consulate staff defended that decision by pointing to the Tel Aviv embassy as the existing representative to Israel. However, the Tel Aviv embassy website provides no mention of the major Jewish holidays in September and October.
The only mention of any autumn holidays, Jewish or Muslim, appears in the form of a video from a dinner hosted at the Ambassador's residence in celebration of Iftar.