Aipac Asks Congress to Approve Israel Visa Waiver Program
Aipac, with its hand deeply in the pocket of the U.S. taxpayer on Israel’s behalf, and with Congress in its own pocket, has devised proposed legisltation that would even further surrender of U.S. sovereignty to Israel. It’s advancing a visa waiver program that would allow both countries to waive documents for their citizens. This would mean Israelis could visit the U.S. without getting visas and vice versa. Except that there’s a catch. A BIG catch.
Anyone who’s been reading this blog or the Israeli press knows that Israel routinely denies entry to U.S. citizens. Almost always (with a few exceptions for troublesome Jews) it’s Arab-Americans who get bounced. Invariably, they get to Ben Gurion, they are interrogated by the Shin Bet, which decides it doesn’t like their answers for one reason or another (or no reason), and they’re put on the next plane back to the States.
Israel makes no apologies about doing this. It hardly ever offers a reason. Even when it does, it’s usually lame and along the lines of: the applicant didn’t cooperate with our questioning. Which could mean anything. In one case, they sent packing an American woman who planned to teach at the Friends School in Ramallah largely because she’d published a post at Electronic Intifada that supported the Right of Return.
In other words, Israel denies entry not for security reasons, but for purely political reasons. That is, unless you view a Palestinian American teacher as a security threat because she has written an idea the Shin Bet despises.
Jim Zogby described the legislation as essentially racist and a violation of U.S. laws against discrimination:
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.
Israel freely and openly engages in racial profiling in determining who may enter the country. Now Aipac asks us to endorse it by allowing our own citizens to be treated in a demeaning manner that would be illegal in this country. Do I hear schandeh? Do I hear busha? Do I hear chutzpah?
What especially irks me about this proposed arrangement is that Israeli Mossad agents would enter the U.S. without requiring any documents. While a simple Palestinian-American would be denied entry to Israel because a Shin Bet agent didn’t like their tone of voice.
To their credit, members of Congress appear sufficiently irked by this dual standard that even they, usually the first to ask “how high” when told by Aipac to jump–are balking. That doesn’t mean Aipac won’t win on this. But it appears even it may go too far with its high-handed approach to cowing the U.S. government on Israel’s behalf.
I first read about this legislation here. A post worth reading.
25 thoughts on “Aipac Asks Congress to Approve Israel Visa Waiver Program – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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You stated that people would be able to come to the US “without requiring any documents”
That is not accurate, the legislation will take the visa out of the picture however when someone will arrive to a US port of entry they will be requited to present a valid passport, a ticket back to their origin point and enough funds to support the length of their stay in the US. The INS officer would be able to deny their entry into the US.
No kidding. This is is true for all people not only going to the US but also for Americans traveling to the EU.
“Documents” means visas or official travel letters, not plane tickets or itineraries.
Arabs with Israeli passports would not require a visa.
“Arabs with Israeli passports would not require a visa.” This is a very interesting point you make as currently Israelis originated in few Arab countries experience difficulties while applying for a Visa, so do Israeli Arabs.
according to wiki your definition off travel documents is wrong” A travel document is an identity document issued by a government or international treaty organization to facilitate the movement of individuals or small groups of persons across international boundaries” visa permitting an entry to a state isn’t a travel document.
It’s not a plane ticket, wiseguy.
The US, since 9/11, has had a bad habit of scrutinizing Arabs as a matter of racial profiling, but they are NOT singled out as the ONLY people requiring a visa to enter the US. Please, stop wasting your time.
Who said it was a plane ticket ? I said it was a valid passport. In order to enter the US a return ticket and adequate funding for your trip is required, this is at least the current situation today, and i don’t think those requirement will change even if an agreement is reached.
Israel doesn’t single out Arabs, there are many other folks who are prohibited from entering Israel, Dr. Paul Larudee – an American through and through – is one name that pops out, there are many others.
It’s true however that due to the fact that Israeli airplanes were almost the sole target for airplane kidnapping – prior to 9/11 – By Arabs, though other airplanes like AF 139 were kidnapped by non Arabs (though all the non Jews & non Israelis were released) Israel developed a security system based on racial profiling. To you it may seem outrageous, to the people who experienced such event it’s a necessary evil.
The system is not mistakes free, and sometimes singles pay a price unjustly.
Israel has also kept out such figures as Dr. Norman Finkelstein and Dr. Richard Falk, Special Rappateur to the UN. Both dangerous terrorists, I’m sure.
Correction: Nour Joudah was NOT denied entry to Israel but into occupied Palestine by the Israeli authorities. She taught in a school in Ramallah, and went off to Amman during the Christmas holidays and was denied entry at the Allenby Bridge betwwen Jordan and Occupied Palestine on January 5th.
This is an important distinction to make because the hasbara always ‘explains’ that after all Israel is free to admit whoever they want on their terrotory. I just realized while googling that Mondoweiss who published an entire article on the topic writes ‘denied entry to Israel’.
PS. I write ‘Joudah’ but Joudeh is correct too (even more precise) but if you want to google informations about her ‘Joudeh’ hardly comes up with anything.
Technically it is not possible to deny someone entry into Palestine without denying them entry into Israel. When a person wants to visit Occupied Palestine, he or she must lie to the Israel border police when asked the purpose of their visit. If you say you’re visiting a refugee camp or a Palestinian family, forget it – you’re not getting in. It’s as though the Palestinians are living in a big prison and you cannot visit them without an “official” reason. Even volunteers who are going to Palestine to work with NGO’s in the refugee camps are told to say they are visiting the tourist attractions in the West Bank and to even make a reservation at a hotel in Tel Aviv.
I know about the lying about going to the Palestinian territories (even saying you’re visiting Palestinians within the State of Israel complicates your entry), but that was not my point. I was talking about semantics 🙂
Nour Joudah was denied entry at the Allenby Bridge which is between Jordan and Palestinian territory, and describing that as “denied entry to Israel” is missing the point that Israel according to international law has nothing to do at that border crossing in the first place. It’s like erasing the Green Line.
After the first two “Welcome to Palestine”-delegations trying to pass through Ben Gourion, openly declaring they were going to visit Palestine, lots of hasbaristas and other not even pro-Israelis but average citizens said “well, after all, Israel has the right to deny entry on its soil to whoever they want”, and lots pf people said “this is a provocation, why don’t they go through Jordan”. The last delegation went through Jordan precisely to show that Israel controls that border too, and they were all denied entry into the West Bank.
Yes, I also read about an American woman who traveled with her husband and kids to Israel to visit her Palestinian relatives and was denied entry at Ben Gurion although her husband and kids were allowed entry. She was told she had to enter through Jordan. When she tried to do that, she was also denied entry and was stranded in Jordan. I don’t know if she got help from the US embassy or how it turned out.
Concerning help from the American embassy: when Sandra Tamari, an American of Palestinian descent (her father was in the US studying durng the 1967-war and was prevented from returning home permanently) was denied entry at Ben Gourion last year, and phoned the US embassy, first thing they said: “You’re not Jewish ? So we can’t help you” (cf. her story on Mondoweiss).
Air France has just been convicted of ‘racial discrimination’ for asking a member of the “Welcome to Palestine”-delegation whether she was Israeli or Jewish on a flight Nice-Tel Aviv, and as she answered no she was taken off the plane.
Wonder what the hasbara has to say about that kind of racial profiling.
RE: “. . . Israel routinely denies entry to U.S. citizens. Almost always (with a few exceptions for troublesome Jews) it’s Arab-Americans who get bounced. Invariably, they get to Ben Gurion, they are interrogated by the Shin Bet, which decides it doesn’t like their answers for one reason or another (or no reason), and they’re put on the next plane back to the States. . . In one case, they sent packing an American woman who planned to teach at the Friends School in Ramallah largely because she’d published a post at Electronic Intifada that supported the Right of Return.” ~ Richard Silverstein
iMY COMMENT: This effort by Israel’s Likudnik supporters to force the U.S. to accommodate Israel’s ongoing discrimination against Arab- and Muslim-Americans” (as well as Israel’s blacklisting of Americans viewed by them as sympathetic to the Palestinians, sometimes merely as a consequence of constitutionally-protected speech here in the U.S.) is yet another reason I fear that Revisionist Zionism and Likudnik Israel (specifically by virtue of their inordinate sway over the U.S.) might very well be an “existential threat” to the values of The Enlightenment [like the right to “due process” and “the right of free speech”] ! ! !
“Down, down, down we [the U.S.] go into the deep, dark abyss; hand in hand with Israel.”
● OTHER EXAMPLES OF ISRAEL’S VALUES TRUMPING (OVERRIDING) THE VALUES OF THE ENLIGHTENMENT HERE IN THE U.S.
• “How We Became Israel”, By Andrew J. Bacevich, The American Conservative, 9/10/12
LINK – http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/how-we-became-israel/
• “America Adopts the Israel Paradigm”, by Philip Ghiraldi, Antiwar.com, 7/05/12
LINK – http://original.antiwar.com/giraldi/2012/07/04/america-adopts-the-israel-paradigm/
• “Report: Israeli model underlies militarization of U.S. police”, By Muriel Kane, Raw Story, 12/04/11
LINK – http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/12/04/report-israeli-model-underlies-militarization-of-u-s-police/
• From Occupation to “Occupy”: The Israelification of American Domestic Security, By Max Blumenthal, Al-akhbar, 12/02/11
LINK – http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/2178 OR http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article29892.htm
• “In bill discriminating against Arab- and Muslim-Americans, Boxer and 17 other senators serve Israeli gov’t over their own — Greenwald”, By Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss, 4/13/13
LINK – http://mondoweiss.net/2013/04/discriminating-americans-greenwald.html
• “The Second Battle of Gaza: Israel’s Undermining Of International Law”, by Jeff Halper, mrzine.monthlyreview.org, 02/26/10
LINK – http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2010/halper260210.html
• “The Trial of Israel’s Campus Critics”, by David Theo Goldberg & Saree Makdisi,
Tikkun Magazine, September/October 2009
LINK – http://www.tikkun.org/article.php/sept_oct_09_goldberg_makdisi
• “Brooklyn College’s academic freedom increasingly threatened over Israel event”, by Glenn Greenwald, guardian.co.uk, 2/02/13
LINK – http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/02/brooklyn-college-bds-alan-dershowitz
• “Peter ‘Powder Keg’ Beinart is disinvited from gig at Atlanta Jewish book festival”, by Annie Robbins, Mondoweiss, 11/05/12
LINK – http://mondoweiss.net/2012/11/peter-powder-keg-beinart-is-disinvited-from-gig-at-atlanta-jewish-book-festival.html
• ‘Israelis are helping write US laws, fund US campaigns, craft US war policy’, by Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss, 6/30/12
LINK – http://mondoweiss.net/2012/06/israelis-are-helping-write-us-laws-fund-us-campaigns-craft-us-war-policy.html
• “David Yerushalmi, Islam-Hating White Supremacist Inspires Anti-Sharia Bills Sweeping Tea Party Nation”, by Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam, 3/02/11
LINK – https://www.richardsilverstein.com/2011/03/02/david-yerushalmi-islam-hating-white-supremacist/
• “Boston airport security program rife with racial profiling has Israeli links”, by Alex Kane, Mondoweiss, 8/14/12
LINK – http://mondoweiss.net/2012/08/boston-airport-security-program-rife-with-racial-profiling-has-israeli-links.html
• “Obama’s kill list policy compels US support for Israeli attacks on Gaza”, By Glenn Greenwald, guardian.co.uk, 11/15/12
LINK – http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/15/israel-gaza-obama-assassinations
P.S. AND HERE’S ANOTHER THREAT TO THE VALUES OF “THE ENLIGHTENMENT” BY ISRAEL’S ALLIES:
“US Religious Right Propelling Homophobia in African Countries”, by Common Dreams, 7/24/12
LINK – http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/07/24-7
@DY Thanks for the link to the Air France thing. I was particularly incensed on that one and wrote a long letter to the company (received a curt response!) I am so glad it was found guilty.
@elad Israel can exclude anyone it likes from Israel. It is in the habit of excluding Arabs, but could just as well extend this to blacks or gays or Noam Chomsky of Norm Finkelstein. But, Israel has no right to expect YET AGAIN special treatment from the US in the waiver program that includes 36 other countries which don’t ask for an “exception.” Even more so, that state has no right polluting American policies with discriminatory practices that are illegal in the US. So much, for shared values. The only thing special about Israel is that it receives more foreign aid from the US than any other country. Israel and the US can just do without the waivers. I too don’t want Mossad coming into the US unchecked and unmonitored to connive with ADL or other “American” public-spirited agencies among other nefarious activities.
Sen. Boxer is a main sponsor of the Senate version and we Californians are organizing to make that sponsorship sting more than she expects.
“and we Californians are organizing to make that sponsorship sting more than she expects.”
Can you forward me any Press release about this organization of Californians ?
Sure — just send your information. And thanks for responding and demonstrating who and what you represent for the benefit of all.
You got to be out of your mind.
I reside in the state of CA. at least 8 months a year i am. If this was your attempt @ standup comedy you better keep your day job. If this was your attempt of smoking out the Hasbara central operative…well that kind of fell flat on its ass didn’t it ?
@Elad R Thanks.
There are currently 37 countries participating in the US Visa Waiver program:
Andorra Hungary New Zealand
Australia Iceland Norway
Austria Ireland Portugal
Belgium Italy San Marino
Brunei Japan Singapore
Czech Republic Latvia Slovakia
Denmark Liechtenstein Slovenia
Estonia Lithuania South Korea
Finland Luxembourg Spain
France Malta Sweden
Germany Monaco Switzerland
Greece the Netherlands Taiwan United Kingdom
I expect this blog only has a problem when it comes to Israel participating .. it is OK for the US to surrender sovereigenty to Andora and Latvia (using the statement from the first line in this blog).
@Evensteven: We haven’t allowed any of these countries to deny entry to their countries of our citizens at the sole discretion of that country. We’ve only offered Israel that right. Why?
I expect that every single one of the 37 countries in the visa waiver program does reserve the right to refuse entry to anyone at their sole discretion. When arriving in one of these countries, a US citizen would pass through Passport Control and if there were any red flags, an additional evaluation would be made prior to allowing entry. A US Citized can be denied entry to any of these countries for any number of reasons. The same for someone from one of these countries arriving in the US, they go through Passport control and a determination if an entry permit will be granted. Again, you seem to require that only Israel give up this right and to be forced to allow any and all US Citizens to enter without any such screening.
There is no similar language in visa waiver protocols for any of these countries as there would be in the Israel protocol allowing it to refuse entry to any American at any time for any reason or no reason at all. This language is designed to allow Israel to accept Jews & reject Arab-Americans. It is racist & unacceptable according to U.S. customs, norms and law. The fact that this is acceptable, even desirable to Israel indicates it is not a free, open, democratic society.
So probably the US does indeed allow other countries participating in the US Visa Waiver program to deny entry to US citizens solely at their discretion… I expect the UK can deny entry to a US citizen whom it determined was an activist in the IRA (for example). Does that mean the UK is not a free, open, democratic society?
Perhaps your concern is solely with the language in the proposed bill stating the requirement to certify 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”. If the words “without jeopardizing the security of the State of Israel” were removed, would you then support this legislation as a means for strengthening US/Israel ties and a generally positive measure?
Of those 37 countries, no one has ever as far as I know complained about being refused entry. Since they are all democracies, had anyone been denied entry they surely would’ve filed a complaint or reported it in the media. It appears that hasn’t happened.
Israel, on the contrary denies entry to Arab-Americans on almost a daily basis. It would certainly continue doing so. While the U.S. would NOT deny entry to Israeli citizens for being Arab. That’s the opposite of reciprocity, hence Israel does not deserve the waiver.
Changing the language would help. I would like to see an appeal procedure involving the U.S. embassy that would allow any U.S. citizen denied entry to be able to appeal the decision to a non-Shabak Israeli authority. But the main problem I have is with the practice of Arab racial-profiling in which Israel engages. Not only is it discriminatory, it is not effective security procedure.
Certainly Israel uses the excuse of “security” in nefarious and disingenuous ways and it is the awareness of this practice that prompts the outbursts regarding this waiver program. Rather than licensing further security “excuses,” the agreement should frankly reflect that Israel is not able to use its exception in a proper and democratic manner or rather grant no such waiver, period. Lest we forget — “security” excused the invasion, occupation and settlement of the West Bank and is the excuse offered for the oppression of Palestinians in all manner of ways.