U.S. consular officials have been barred by Israeli authorities from meeting with Alan Harry Goodman, the American-Israeli immigrant being held for the shooting rampage in the Dome of the Rock Mosque on Easter.
Israeli officials indicated to Howard Cavalier, a consular officer, that he would not be permitted to interview Goodman, who holds dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship, until after the initial investigation of the attack is completed, informed sources said.
In the meantime, the sources said, Goodman, a recent inductee in the Israeli Army, will be treated as an Israeli citizen first and an American citizen second, and he will be tried in a Jerusalem court.
The ruling came as Goodman was remanded without bail for 15 days by a district court judge, following the filming last night of a reenactment of the shooting spree on the Temple Mount of Jerusalem's Old City, where two Arabs were shot to death and at least seven wounded.
Goodman was taken to the Temple Mount under heavy guard where the reenactment of the shooting took place for use as evidence by the prosecution. The 35-acre Temple Mount is site of the temples of Solomon and Herod.
In court today, Goodman was reported to have said he does not want a defense lawyer because he regards the case against him to be more political than legal. The court ruled that a defense attorney will be appointed if Goodman does not obtain his own.
The government's refusal to allow U.S. officials to see Goodman underscored the unique legal status of American Jewish immigrants to Israel who, although swearing allegiance to their new homeland and serving in its armed forces, are permitted to retain U.S. citizenship.
According to officials of the Central Bureau of Statistics, the U.S.-born population of Israel is about 20,000, although that figure does not include Israeli citizens who immigrated here from the United States after being naturalized there. One Israeli official estimated that there are approximately 50,000 American Israeli citizens living here, out of a total population of nearly 4 million. The figure is minuscule when compared with the 6 million Jews who live in the United States, or even the 250,000 Israeli citizens who live in the United States. By comparison, there are 400,000 Israelis who were born in Morocco, and 250,000 who were born in Romania.
The Israeli Army command refused today to disclose how many American Israelis are now on active duty, but one official said the figure may be between 500 and 1,000. The Army considers the size of the armed forces to be classified information, but published reports of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London put the total Israeli armed forces at about 160,000, with an additional 250,000 active reservists.
Normally, a U.S. citizen who becomes a citizen of another country would be regarded as having voluntarily renounced his American citizenship. But since Israeli citizenship is automatically conferred on immigrants three years after they register as immigrants--unless they specifically ask that it not be conferred--U.S. courts have held that they do not fulfill the criteria for having voluntarily renounced their citizenship.
The same principle is extended to Americans who join the Israeli armed forced, which normally is another criterion for determining voluntary renunciation of U.S. citizenship.
Under Israeli law, every citizen is required to serve in the armed forces. For men between the ages of 18 and 26 years, the compulsory service is for three years, with an active reserve obligation to age 55. For men 27 to 29 years old, the Army service is for 30 months, and for immigrant men over 27 years old, there is an abbreviated service obligation that normally involves only six weeks of basic training, with an active reserve obligation to age 55.
As an Israeli citizen with dual nationality, Goodman, who is 38, was drafted into the Army under the abbreviated service program, apparently reporting to a training camp in the West Bank only two weeks ago.
An Army command source said that recruits normally are issued a rifle during the first week of their basic training, and although the policy varies from base to base, they normally take the weapon home with them on leave. Soldiers based in the occupied territories--as Goodman was--are required to carry their weapons with them when they leave base, Army sources said.
It was unclear tonight where Goodman obtained the two magazines of M16 ammunition authorities say he used in the attack. Throughout Israel, however, there is a black market in weapons and ammunition.
Israeli officials generally are reluctant to categorize immigrants by country of origin; they are particularly sensitive about the apparent high proportion of American immigrants in extremist organizations. But one Israeli official, who was born in the United States himself, noted that the Americans who immigrate to Israel come after making a considered decision to abandon one of the highest standards of living in the world to live in a country in which rampant inflation has made it difficult to make ends meet.
"As a result, they generally are highly motivated in their Zionist beliefs. They weren't driven out of anywhere, they came here by choice, and they tend to be more religious than other immigrants," the official said.
Among them, the official noted, are bound to be extremists who would gravitate to militant organizations such as the Jewish Defense League, headed by U.S.-born Rabbi Meir Kahane. The league said that Goodman was not a member of that group--which advocates the expulsion of Arabs from East Jerusalem and the razing of Moslem shrines on the Temple Mount--although police said they found league literature in Goodman's room.
"You have to remember that Israel, because of its nature as a safe haven for Jews, takes in every Jew who comes here. If you are not totally crazy at the airport gate, they let you in, and not only let you in but make you a ward of the state. Unfortunately, some people who come here have fantasies, and before you know it, they are walking around in uniform with a gun and playing out their fantasies," the official said.