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.