public affairs committee
The following article from Haaretz speaks for itself. It staggers the mind to think that (once again) a case is being made for exempting Israel from the requirements levied against every other country in the world! How long will the American people put up with this sort of double-standard?
U.S. visa waiver bill stymied over Arab Americans entering Israel
The legislative effort being pushed by AIPAC would allow visa-free entry for Israelis, but the government is unable or unwilling to reciprocate, insisting on the right to refuse entry to certain U.S. citizens due to security concerns.
A legislative effort led by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to enable Israelis to enter the United States without visas may be stymied by the government – Israel’s government.
The hitch is Israel’s inability or unwillingness to fully reciprocate, something required for visa-free travel to the United States. Israel, citing security concerns, insists on the right to refuse entry to some U.S. citizens.
AIPAC is pushing for an exemption for Israel from this rule. But congressional staffers say Israel is unlikely to get such an exemption, which U.S. lawmakers view as an attempt to bar Arab Americans from freely entering Israel.
“It’s stunning that you would give a green light to another country to violate the civil liberties of Americans traveling abroad,” said a staffer for one leading pro-Israel lawmaker in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The exemption AIPAC is pushing for appears in the Senate version of the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act, one of the key issues for which AIPAC urged supporters to lobby after its policy conference last month.
The language in that bill, proposed by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), requires that the Homeland Security secretary grant Israel visa waiver status after certifying with the secretary of state that Israel “has made every reasonable effort, without jeopardizing the security of the State of Israel, to ensure that reciprocal travel privileges are extended to all United States citizens.”
House staffers say that lawmakers, pro-Israel leaders among them, have raised objections to the clause, “without jeopardizing the security of the State of Israel,” because it appears to validate what they see as Israel’s tendency to turn away Arab Americans without giving a reason.
None of the other 37 countries currently in the visa-free program has such a caveat written into law.
Israel’s government has made clear that it likely would not join the visa waiver program without such language in the law, JTA has learned. Israeli officials told JTA that U.S. citizens already are free to travel to Israel and that there is no need for holders of American passports to obtain a tourist visa before traveling.
But there have been numerous reports in recent years that Israel routinely turns away or makes difficult the entry of Americans with Muslim and Arab names, often without explaining why. The State Department, in its Israel travel advisory, warns that “U.S. citizens whom Israeli authorities suspect of being of Arab, Middle Eastern, or Muslim origin” may be denied “entry or exit without explanation.”
James Zogby, the president of the Arab American Institute, which has lobbied against the Senate language, said passage of such a law would codify discriminatory treatment.
“It is ratifying Israel’s position of creating two classes of citizen,” said Zogby, who said he has been subject to long waits when entering Israel.
One recent case that made headlines was that of Nour Joudah, a Palestinian American who was teaching at the Friends School in Ramallah. Joudah, who had traveled to Jordan for Christmas, was denied reentry to Israel although she had a one-year multiple entry visa, and despite the fact that the Israeli Embassy in Washington had advocated for her reentry.
The Ramallah school receives U.S. funding, promotes non-violence and teaches about the Holocaust, noted a congressional staffer. “This is the model of coexistence,” the staffer said.
Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, told Haaretz earlier this year that Joudah had not cooperated during security questioning. Joudah told Haaretz that the encounter with Israeli security at times had been argumentative but said she answered all questions.
Critics of Israel’s entry practices say authorities appear to turn away Americans for political, not security reasons. Joudah told Haaretz that Israeli security officials had asked her about her published writings. While in Ramallah, she had blogged for Electronic Intifada, an anti-Zionist website. In one post, she sharply criticized Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for intimating that it was time to relinquish a Palestinian “right of return” to Israel.
read the rest of this article here: www.haaretz.com…
It is hard to understand what official justification could be given for shutting down the office of the Palestinian government’s representatives in Washington in the wake of the enhanced UN status of their country. Why must elevated international status for Palestine necessitate diminished status in the US!
Reform Jews at odds with AIPAC over penalizing Palestinians for UN move
AIPAC backed congressional bids to shut PLO office in Washington, while Reforms have urged Obama not to retaliate against the Palestinians.
By Nabil Sha’ath
Two major American Jewish groups are at odds over the prospect of penalties for the Palestinians in the wake of their enhanced United Nations status.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee in recent weeks has backed two congressional bids to at least shut down the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington in the wake of the November 29 United Nations General Assembly’s overwhelming vote that granted Palestinians non-member observer state status.
Conversely, the Reform movement has emphatically urged President Obama not to retaliate against the Palestinians, JTA has learned. The Reform movement also has resolved to oppose the shuttering of the PLO office.
For the full report: www.haaretz.com….
Question: What do you and Benjamin Netanyahu have in common?
Answer: you will both be at in Washington DC for policy conferences in just a few weeks…
It’s true. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will be in Washington DC once again for the 2012 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference. But while he will be beating the drums of war against Iran, you’ll be across the street with us at our counter-conference and protest for peace, Occupy AIPAC. Register today! In its largest convention yet, AIPAC will be pushing its pro-war on Iran agenda more than ever before. Yesterday AIPAC had its pre-meeting conference call featuring a talk and Q&A session with Bret Stephens, a foreign affairs columnist for the Wall Street Journal. "The window of opportunity for diplomacy and sanctions has closed," he said, "Israel will come under fire for ‘sparking an unnecessary war’ and ‘causing the next recession’, but we have to have iron stomachs."