restricted access Zivotofsky v. Kerry: The Supreme Court of the United States, the Politics of American Jewry and the Biblical Balaam


The Congress of the United States has been trying for some time to propel the president to recognize the city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The president has resisted, citing both policy considerations and constitutional power. In Zivotofsky v. Kerry the Supreme Court of the United States was asked to decide which branch of the government, under the constitution, is authorized to make such decisions. On 8 June 2015, one day and forty-eight years after Israel’s Six-Day War victory, the Court held that the decision rests with the president, not with congress. This article reviews the complex position of the justices, raises questions about the role of American Jewry in this controversy and uses the parable of biblical Balaam to problematize decisions to litigate such major decisions related to foreign affairs.