Guest contribution by Jareer Kassis
In a recent Haaretz article, Amira Hass reported that Israel denied yet another American citizen of Palestinian descent re-entry into the occupied West Bank. As always, the Israeli authorities invoked the perpetual “security risk” excuse without bothering to elaborate on why an American high-school teacher who held a position at a Quaker institution in Ramallah was deemed a threat. While denying entry of Americans who belong to a particular ethnicity into Israel or the territories it controls (and is required by the Oslo agreements to grant access to) is almost routine, it comes as the U.S. Congress is considering granting Israeli citizens visa-free entry into the United States. If Israel is allowed to join this “Visa Waiver Program (VWP)”, it would necessitate the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State having to lie.
“The Government of Israel has made every reasonable effort, without jeopardizing the security of the State of Israel, to ensure that reciprocal privileges are extended to all United States citizens.” (Emphasis mine.)
The evidence gathered over multiple reports spanning the last few years shows that Israel’s treatment of United States citizens is anything but reciprocal. As early as 2006, then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice complained to the Israeli foreign minister (the undeservingly respected Tzipi Livni) about the ill-treatment of Palestinian-Americans by Israel, and also promised later that year to “ensure that all American travelers receive fair and equal treatment”. Yet the reports of Americans humiliated and/or denied entry at Israeli borders are abundant. [Read more...]