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By Micah Halpern

Wednesday February 27, 2008


There are war games. There are diplomatic games. There are mind games. And there are just plain - games. Monopoly, the most popular game in the world, produced by Hasbro, one of the most successful game sellers in the world, used to be just a game, a fun, simple, wildly popular game.

And then Hasbro decided to take the game one step further. Hasbro already had the Banking Edition, the SquarePants Edition, the Junior Disney Princess Edition, but they did not yet have the World Edition. So Hasbro came up with a plan to invite fan participation and create Monopoly Here and Now: The World Edition. The invitation went out from headquarters in Pawtucket, Rhode Island to the entire online world - vote for you favorite city anywhere in the world and the cities with the most votes will win spots around the coveted Monopoly board.

That's when the fun stopped. That's when true competition stepped in. That's when Hasbro - unwittingly - stepped out of the realm of gamesmanship and into the real world of politics and diplomacy. Problem was, votes came in for the city of Jerusalem, Israel. Problem is, the Arab world does not believe that Jerusalem belongs to Israel, the Palestinians want Jerusalem for their own capital city one day. The problem was solved by an independent-thinking Hasbro employee in the London office. Just take out the comma and the word Israel. London remained London comma England, Paris remained Paris comma France, Istanbul a frontrunner for first place remained Istanbul comma Turkey and Jerusalem was left to stand alone. And that did not sit well with Israel's friends.

Hasbro does not like to make enemies. Hasbro will do almost anything to avoid alienating clients. Politics is one property that Hasbro does not want to land on. So Hasbro made another decision and this time the decision came from way high up the management chain. All the commas and all the countries were dropped. After all, Hasbro was really only interested in city names for their game. The plan is working, Hasbro dodged the bullet.

Truthfully, Hasbro did the right thing. Hasbro should not be in the game of politics and diplomacy. It's not good for business. That game is best played by governments and law makers. And the government of the United States of America is playing the Jerusalem game right now.

The United States government, like Hasbro, has dropped the comma and the country from the passports off all US citizens born in the city of Jerusalem. That's right. If you are a US citizen born in Jerusalem your official, listed, country of birth is ---, left blank.

There's more. Jerusalem is the only city in the world with two United States consulates. One is in East Jerusalem, one is in West Jerusalem. The embassy is in Tel Aviv. Year ago, there was need for two consulates because Jerusalem was in two countries - Jordan and Israel. But that was 41 years ago, everything changed in 1967. When Berlin was divided they, too, had two consulates. The wall came down and one of the embassies went away. Not so in Jerusalem.

The current presidential campaign is the first campaign in recent history during which no candidate has declared that moving the United States Embassy in Israel to the city of Jerusalem is a priority. In other campaigns Israel was discussed and promises were made. OK, the promises were broken, but the inequity was an issue that was opened up and discussed.

Congress even passed an act to move the embassy. The reason it has never happened is because of a presidential waiver written into the law that requires the State Department to agree and traditionally, both professionals and career people in State, have a real problem designating Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
They fear that if the US officially recognizes Jerusalem it will enrage the Arab and Muslim world and create a real problem for any future deal the US makes with the Palestinians. I disagree. I know it would upset the Arab world, but I also think that the Arab world would show more respect towards the United States if the United States, knowing that there would be strong disagreement over the policy, was emboldened enough to make a clear decision on Jerusalem.

It's about time that the world recognizes that Israel has made her own choice. And Israel has chosen Jerusalem. Jerusalem, comma, Israel.

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4 June 2017 12:14 PM in Columns

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