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Israeli Attorney General Endorses Airport Security Screening of Foreign Tourist E-Mails as Condition of Entry

Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, in response to a complaint filed by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, gave legal approval for Ben Gurion airport security (operated by the Shabak) to demand access to the email accounts of foreign tourists as a condition for entry to Israel.

Frank barat

Frank Barat denied entry to Israel

In practice, this has mainly meant that as part of the security racial profiling protocol, such demands have been made mainly of travelers with dark-skin and/or Arabic names. In numerous cases, security has rifled through private email accounts and then, after hours of questioning, denied entry.

Of course, if you’re a “dangerous” foreign radical like Frank Barat, organizer of the Russell Tribunal, you’ll be denied entry, as he was yesterday (after 24 hours of detention), regardless of ethnicity.

For anyone seeking a history of the arbitrary, capricious, sexually invasive, and racist procedures used by the Shin Bet to deny entry or harass figures as diverse as Donna Shalala, university professors, dancers, reporters, film directors, and many others (some Arab-American, some not), do a search here for “racial profiling” or “Ben Gurion.”

All this is especially important in light of AIPAC’s new legislative proposal granting reciprocal visa waiver privileges to Israeli and U.S. travelers. The language proposed would give Israel free rein to deny entry to anyone it deemed a threat to Israel’s security. Under the AG’s ruling, merely writing emails containing the word “Palestine” could be sufficient grounds for such a designation.

So I have a rather modest proposal that should find favor with both sides: let’s call it the Reciprocal Visa Denial Protocol. For every U.S. citizen denied entry to Israel, the U.S will deny entry to an Israeli Jew seeking entry to this country. Since U.S. population is roughly 50 times that of Israel, instances of denial of entry should be proportional to population. So for every U.S. citizen deported, 50 Israeli Jews would be deported.

Oh, and for every U.S. citizen whose e mails are violated we will demand that 50 Israelis open their email accounts.

That sounds fair to me. The added benefit is that it would nip this Israeli racial profiling right in the bud. There would be such an uproar from Israeli tourists subjected to the same sort of capriciousness on the part of U.S. immigration officials as Israeli airport security have inflicted on Arab-Americans, that it would die a quick death.

U.S. legislators may want to ponder whether they’re willing to accept this level of disrespect being accorded to U.S. citizens who, solely for the color of their skin or last name, may be treated like terrorists or common criminals.

This type of treatment may be acceptable in The Only Democracy in the Middle East, but is it here? And if it is, what does it say about what we have become as a nation of laws?

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • dickerson3870 April 25, 2013, 2:09 AM

    RE: “Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein . . . gave legal approval for Ben Gurion airport security (operated by the Shabak) to demand access to the email accounts of foreign tourists as a condition for entry to Israel. ~ R.S.

    IN THE WAKE OF THE BOSTON BOMBINGS, a “National Security Expert” on Fox “News” said that the U.S. is like
    a 14-year-old teenager going through “security puberty”; and we must demand that our government “get on the Israeli page”! ! !
    On the Wish List from the Boston Bombings – The Israelization of America [VIDEO, 00:25] – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fff8dXQNVdA

  • Nimrod April 25, 2013, 2:56 AM

    Regarding your proposal, that for every U.S. citizen denied entry to Israel, the U.S will deny entry to an Israeli Jew seeking entry to this country.
    Why would only Jews be deported? Don’t you think that Israeli Muslims or Christians deserves the same rights and treatment, regardless of their religion?

    • Richard Silverstein April 25, 2013, 12:17 PM

      No. If Israel is going to deny entry based on religion/ethnicity, then the U.S. should do the same. I call it the Proportionate Racist Response. Israel can behave in a racist manner against Arab Americans & we’ll treat Israeli Jews the same way. As I said, only fair.

  • Cliff April 25, 2013, 3:40 AM

    Sorry for the ignorance, but would it be right to assume that if you’re denied entry that means you’ve effectively just personally eaten the cost of the plane ticket yourself? I don’t suppose either the airline or Israel wants to give you a refund.

    If I would possibly have to choose between giving up all my private communications and losing almost a thousand dollars, the visit seems out of the question.

    • Michael Croydon April 25, 2013, 10:08 PM

      The short answer to your question is yes, you will end up paying for your ticket.

  • pabelmont April 25, 2013, 8:15 AM

    “So for every U.S. citizen deported, 50 Israeli Jews would be deported.” Lovely idea. Thanks.
    Another point: I don’t know what VISA WAIVER means, but if it means that Israelis can enter the USA without a visa, does it mean they can enter without a TIME LIMIT on their stay? With permission to work? Like a CITIZEN? (Could they also vote? Take political action, or is that only for Israeli corporations?)

    • Michael Croydon April 25, 2013, 10:14 PM

      The visa waiver programme basically allows people from selected countries (mainly wealthy European countries, Japan etc.) to travel to the States as a visitor (not an immigrant – so no, there will be a time limit and they cannot work, vote, or do anything of that nature) without getting a visa beforehand. Basically the assumption is that people from these rich countries don’t pose a threat in terms of irregular migration, i.e. they will not stay on in the States and work illegally, so they don’t need to go through the kind of screening that other nationalities do. As far as I understand the criteria here is predominantly economic, but of course there are always political elements, so for Israel/AIPAC admittance to this very exclusive “club” would be a big deal.

  • Fred Plester April 26, 2013, 8:55 AM

    You can run as many Gmail, hotmail and yahoo e-mail accounts as you like, under any name that you like.
    Give the airport Gestapo one which contains only fluffy bunny traffic.

    • Davey April 27, 2013, 4:36 PM

      Did you say “fluffy bunny stuff?” This “stuff” is high on the list of reasons for denying entrance. The government will not abide “fluffy bunny stuff” any more than tourists of color or bomb-toting terrorists like Barat, as Richard notes.

      They are just digging their hole deeper and deeper, separating (as inevitable) the state from the rest of the world. I say inevitable because that seems to be what is required of a Jewish State. Israel is hopelessly off the map and growing more isolated and belligerent by the day. I think that is a good thing.

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