The N.Y. Times has embarrassed Condi Rice into getting Israel off its ass to allow seven Gazan Fulbright winners to leave and pursue their studies in the U.S.:
The United States pressed Israel on Friday to let seven Gaza Strip Palestinians travel to the United States to study on coveted U.S. government Fulbright fellowships and Israel said it was working on the issue.
…The U.S. State Department this week told the seven that their Fulbright grants had been withdrawn and it has taken steps to be able to direct the money to other Palestinians in the West Bank because of the trouble getting the exit visas from Gaza.
However, after The New York Times published a report on the issue on Friday, U.S. officials said they were redoubling their efforts to get the Israeli exit visas for the students.
Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, the third-ranking U.S. diplomat, spoke to the Israeli ambassador to the United States on Friday to emphasize the U.S. desire to see the matter resolved, the State Department said.
“Frankly, a decision to let people that have been vetted for what is perhaps the most prestigious foreign educational program run by the United States … it ought to be falling off a log for them to be able to do this,” said U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey.
“I expect that we’ll have some positive outcome for this in the not-too-distant future,” he told reporters.
Until then, the IDF was content to prevent the children from leaving so they would lose their academic opportunity for this year. Until the Times embarrassed her, Condi didn’t seem to care enough to do anything. Amazing what a little bad PR can do to a government bureaucrat. She actually got up off her tush and did something.
Israel, of course, had no excuse for its disruption of the students’ lives. What, were they terror threats? Were they all Hamas activists who would polish their bomb-making skills while studying here?
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel said, “We’re trying to get them out. Obviously the situation, with Hamas shooting at the border crossings, it is not such an easy thing to do.”
No, of course it’s a major security operation to get seven Gazan teenagers safely out of Gaza. It must require, say, an entire paratroop battalion.
What’s ironic of course is that Condi cares so much about these seven Palestinian students, but couldn’t care less that Israel violated its democratic principles in imprisoning and deporting Norman Finkelstein because they don’t like him criticizing them in the world community. I’m pleased that she cares about Palestinian children, but caring a bit more for her own U.S. citizens and violations of their right to travel to the Occupied Territories would be nice (not to mention Palestinian-Americans routinely deported merely for wishing to visit their families in the Occupied Territories).