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.
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?