Idiocy of Embassy Proportions

I usually try to shy away from personal matters, but an experience my friend has just had seems relevant to the subject matter of this blog, so here it is: He was married in a civil marriage in the United States, and his ex, who is an Israeli citizen returned to Israel when it was over. Since she was here, they got an Israeli divorce, which is decided by Jewish Law. Now he wants this divorce to be recognized by America, so that he can get on with his life. Seems like a reasonable thing.
Thing is, the courts in America that he went to said that they cannot accept the ruling because it is from a religious–and not civil–court. Trying to explain to them that religious courts decide civil matters here in Israel was fruitless–just try to explain to the “multiculturalist” American that different countries have different civil laws–so he decided to go to the US Embassy in Israel. Surely they would know what to do.
Well, they didn’t. Not only that, but when they asked to speak to someone who would know something they sent him to one of the rudest people I have yet to meet, Vice Consul Lisa B. Wishman, who gave him a minute before giving him a list of lawyers and promptly called the next person. According to her, the Embassy can accept marriages and change names in the case of divorce, but it cannot in any way accept a divorce. It’s so tragic it becomes comic: people can be legally accepted as married by the Embassy, but not divorced. To get divorced you need money and legal representation–otherwise you’re screwed.
This brings me to my point: the fact that government decides marriage and divorce. It seems to me that government should no more decide who you marry and divorce than it decides when you wake up in the morning. When it comes to legal benifits, there should be a system in place whereby people can bypass the court system mired in litigation to decide upon personal matters.
And comity. There needs to be full comity between democratic states, especially when it comes to questions of personal life choices. The fact that the US does not recognize Israeli law is absurd–and he can’t be the first person this has happend to.
Finally, it also shows something about the nature of bureacracy. Israelis are prone to complaining that their bureacracy is the worst in the world–and they may be right–but all bureacracies are horrible. Since this seems to be the case, it should be government’s goal to minimize bureacracy where-ever possible.
Oh, and if someone knows how to submit a complaint about a rude, obnoxious and uterly unhelpful Vice Consul, please tell me. Lisa B. Wishman, I will do everything possible to make sure that you do not treat other people as you did him.


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