Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Aipac

The dark roots of AIPAC, ‘America’s Pro-Israel Lobby’

The group was formed to spin positive PR after Israeli atrocities.

AIPAC, the swaggering and influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which brands itself as “America’s Pro-Israel Lobby,” is holding its annual policy conference.

Top politicians from both parties vie for speaking slots at the group’s glitzy gala. Everyone pays AIPAC attention. And for good reason.

Since the late 1970s, it has informally directed substantial campaign contributions toward chosen candidates for Congress. Its messaging on the Middle East is essential in Washington’s foreign-policy conversation. (Actually, the funding is Not even from Israel but the Evangelical Zionists controlling politicians and many institutions)

Some love AIPAC, some hate it, some fear it — but it is a huge factor in U.S. policy, in American politics and in American Jewish life. (A horrible myth in order Not to blame he USA policies and decisions)

AIPAC’s beginnings in the 1950s reveal the long journey the group has traveled as it has grown in size and stature.

(Actually, the influence of Evangelical Zionist started before 1915 and influenced the decision of England to pronounce the Balfour Declaration, through the US supreme chief judge))

It once operated in obscurity; now its influence lies partly in its genius for publicity. But some things have remained consistent: It has always responded to Israeli actions, working to mitigate their impact on the American scene. At the same time, it has welded a united front of American Jews in support of Israel, a unity that politicians have had to respect.

Even before advocates for Israel had AIPAC, they had the tireless I.L. “Si” Kenen. He led AIPAC — in a real sense, he was AIPAC — from its inception until 1974. A journalist and lawyer, Kenen had switched back and forth during the 1940s and early 1950s between working for American Zionist organizations and for the state of Israel.

During Harry Truman’s presidency, Kenen started helping to win U.S. aid for the new state, cultivating ties with members of Congress and their staffers and supplying talking points for those willing to advocate for Israel.

A political progressive, Kenen found his strongest support on Capitol Hill among liberal Democrats, and his toughest opponents were conservative Midwestern Republicans and Southern Democrats. In contrast to his brash successors at AIPAC, Kenen’s methods were low-key and discreet.

But despite their early successes, Kenen and other American champions of Israel faced challenges after Dwight Eisenhower entered the White House in 1953. Ike’s secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, said he wanted to pursue a balanced, neutral policy toward the Israeli-Arab conflict — not what Israel’s supporters wished to hear.

In the fall of 1953, Eisenhower briefly suspended the delivery of U.S. aid to Israel after it violated the terms of a U.N.-brokered armistice agreement with Syria by venturing into a demilitarized zone to try to divert the waters of the Jordan River.

Eisenhower and Dulles resolved to use their leverage to get Israel to back off. However, Israel and the United States apparently agreed to keep Eisenhower’s action quiet in hopes of a quick resolution.

But on Oct. 15, 1953, all hell broke loose.

News spread that a special Israeli army unit had struck into the Jordanian-occupied West Bank and committed a massacre in the Palestinian village of Qibya, killing more than 60 civilians indiscriminately in retaliation for the murder of a Jewish woman and her two children in Israel on the night of Oct. 12.

The strike reflected Israeli policy. Ever since the end of the 1948 war, Palestinians had frequently crossed the so-called “Green Line” into Israel. Most had been driven or had fled from their homes in what was now Israel and simply wished to return.

But some committed violence against Israelis. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion had fixed on a policy of reprisals — military assaults, intentionally disproportionate, on local Arab populations — as a response to any such attacks. After the Oct. 12 killings, Ben-Gurion and top colleagues chose nearby Qibya to suffer retribution.

The outcry was sharp and wide.

Time magazine carried a shocking account of deliberate, even casual mass murder by Israeli soldiers at Qibya — “slouching . . . smoking and joking.” The New York Times ran extensive excerpts from a U.N. commission that refuted Israeli lies about the incident.

Israel’s most active U.S. supporters realized how severe the danger of damage to Israel was. Kenen wrote of the ill effect of Qibya on what he called “our propaganda.”

After Qibya, Dulles confirmed for the first time that Washington was holding up aid to Israel. The United States supported a censure of Israel in the U.N. Security Council. U.S. aid soon resumed, after Israel pledged it would stop its work at the controversial water-diversion site.

Aware Israel’s reputation in the United States had been tarnished, American Jewish supporters of Israel scrambled to mount a damage-control effort in late 1953 and early 1954. Kenen managed this ad hoc effort, involving many parties in Washington and around the country. But it was clear that a firmer, more nimble, ongoing structure of advocacy for Israel was necessary to better meet such challenges.

In March 1954, Kenen and his associates announced the formation of the American Zionist Committee for Public Affairs (AZCPA) — which would be renamed AIPAC in 1959 — and thus launched the modern Israel lobby.

AZCPA was quickly joined by the new Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. That group of top Jewish leaders promoted Israel’s interests with high U.S. government officials, including presidents and secretaries of state. Si Kenen regularly attended meetings of the Conference of Presidents and coordinated the work of the two new groups.

Kenen had additional reason for forming a new advocacy group in early 1954.

U.S. officials had been inquiring into whether his (then) employer, the American Zionist Council, ought to register as the agent of a foreign power, which might limit its activities and complicate its funding. It made sense for the council to consider spinning off a new lobbying group with a “cleaner” financial basis.

However, that motivation for forming AZCPA, while significant, did not dominate the thinking of American Zionists in these crucial months as much as the need to manage the political fallout over Qibya, and to prepare for any future shocks coming out of Israel.

Even before AZCPA appeared, Kenen and others labored to construct a united front among American Jewish groups in support of Israel amid the Qibya controversy. AZCPA strengthened that Jewish united front, which was impressively broad. This was revealing and foretold the future.

It showed that there was nothing Israel might do that would jeopardize American Jewish support.

Indeed, to some in the Jewish community, the more disturbing Israeli behavior was, the more Israel needed their ardent advocacy. So began a three-decade cycle, one that did not end until Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, in which American Jews closed ranks to support Israel regardless of circumstances.

Jews harboring reservations about Israeli actions found it extremely hard to gain a foothold in Jewish communal life — something that is less true today, but still a central reality in Jewish America.

The perception that AIPAC represents a consensus among American Jews has always been a key to its political influence, which explains the group’s sometimes seemingly outsized opposition to Jewish dissent from its line.

“America’s Pro-Israel Lobby,” born in awful knowledge, has always existed to make Israeli realities and priorities palatable to Americans (the hasbara or Zionist propaganda machine.)

Doug Rossinow teaches history at the University of Oslo, and is currently writing a history of American Zionism from 1948 to 1995.

 

Anti-Zionism does Not equal anti-Semitism: People in the Near East are catalogued Semitic too by the racist Western colonial powers

Someone please tell Hillary Clinton and the University of California

U.C. is at it again, with its deceptive attempt to thwart criticism of Israel.

. Tuesday, Mar 22, 2016

Last summer there was a flurry of activity in the University of California system as U.C. regents were pressured to suppress criticism of Israel on U.C. campuses.

One regent in favor of such silencing played a trump card: He threatened to bring his particularly well-connected partner in to add muscle.

The regent was wealthy developer Richard Blum, his wife is Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Here is what Blum said in September:

I should add that over the weekend my wife, your senior Senator, and I talked about this issue at length. She wants to stay out of the conversation publicly but if we do not do the right thing she will engage publicly and is prepared to be critical of this university if we don’t have the kind of not only statement but penalties for those who commit what you can call them crimes, call them whatever you want.

Students that do the things that have been cited here today probably ought to have a dismissal or a suspension from school. I don’t know how many of you feel strongly that way but my wife does and so do I.

So now a U.S. senator says she’ll use the power of her office to suspend undergraduates for speaking out against Israeli state policies?

Interesting read of her mandate.

Blum was particularly incensed because just a few months before, free speech and pro-Palestinian activists had won a victory.

As I wrote back then:

For a while it looked like on July 23 the regents of the University of California were going to adopt the U.S. State Department definition of anti-Semitism and in some fashion or another put policies into place that would have a severe impact on what can and cannot be said about Israel on each of the 10 U.C. campuses, which together enroll some 230,000 students.

Those students, along with 190,000 faculty and staff, would all be constrained under the regents’ interpretation of the definition.

The decision would in fact be continuing a process that began in 2012, when the California House passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism (HR35), and continued into this past spring, when the Senate passed a similar resolution (SCR35).

The stage was set, the momentum was there, activists and advocates on both sides were ready to march on the regents meeting in San Francisco and address the regents and U.C. president Janet Napolitano. (A former politician and a judge?

But just before the regents were to meet, it was announced that they had decided to drop the matter entirely and instead to have a discussion about “tolerance” in general at their meeting in the autumn.

Since the autumn there has been speculation as to what, exactly, the regents would vote on; how would “tolerance” be defined?

Well, now we know, and the document under discussion still shows the two main perspectives of the prior discussions. We see efforts to produce a broad and positive statement for tolerance, and also the fingerprints of those who wish to smuggle in a false and destructive equation of anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism, thereby making the University of California a place where any criticism of a certain state’s illegal policies is intolerable.

The manner in which this is done in the current draft is deceptive and underhanded.

In the main body of the text, the rightful condemnation of anti-Semitism is clear and unadorned: “In a community of learners, teachers, and knowledge-seekers, the University is best served when its leaders challenge speech and action reflecting bias, stereotypes, and/or intolerance.

Anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination have no place in the University. The Regents call on University leaders actively to challenge anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination when and wherever they emerge within the University community.”

Fair and good.

But in the introduction to the document we find the proposal for tolerance when it comes to anti-Semitism presented this way: “Anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California.”

This portion of the document, separated from the section where the proposals appear, is couched as a “contextual statement.” Thus a casual reader could endorse the proposal itself while being unaware that the entire framing of the discussion of anti-Semitism is being used as a cover for silencing voices protesting state policies that might include, among other things, the continued demolition of Palestinian homes and the building of illegal settlements, which have been publicly condemned by the U.S. State Department and which are part of a Zionist project.

What this means is that if the U.C. proposal passes, the U.S. State Department can protest illegal settlements and the Occupation as a whole, but students and teachers in the U.C. system cannot.

This sleight of hand has been called out by both activist groups and mainstream news sources such as the Los Angeles Times.

California Scholars for Academic Freedom (disclosure—I am a member) states: “For the record, we wish to underscore that criticisms of Zionism are co-extensive with the history of Zionism and have from the start included Jewish voices from a variety of political and religious orientations. The inclusion of such a broad category as either intolerant or bigoted represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the political viewpoints critical of Zionism.

Many political positions, including those that favor Palestinian rights, statehood, and political self-determination, can be considered anti-Zionist although they comply with internationally accepted norms of human rights and principles of democratic self-governance.”

The Los Angeles Times editorial notes that the document

conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and says both are forms of discrimination that “have no place at the University of California.” It’s difficult to read that as anything other than a warning to those students or faculty members who have fundamental disagreements with the state of Israel. ..

The equation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism might also make it easier to stigmatize protests against Israeli policies — particularly the treatment of Palestinians — even if they don’t actually oppose the idea of a Jewish state.

Pro-Palestinian activists on campus are right to fear that such a statement would target their advocacy even when it doesn’t involve anti-Semitic language or harassing behavior.

This issue is not a matter of splitting hairs; it goes to the heart of issues of free speech, and the exercise of power to suppress certain types of political expression while letting others flow freely.

What is most telling about this latest episode is the tactic being employed. Faced with substantial public pressure from grass-roots activists, the regents’ working group chose this back-door route to insert its insidious equation. Now it has been called out, and we should be watching carefully which way the regents will move.

What is happening in California might well serve as an index to how these issues will play out on the national scene.

The position of at least one of the two front-runners in the presidential elections is crystal clear. Hillary Clinton has consistently been one of Israel’s staunchest supporters.

What is most troubling, however, is the fact that she has come out vocally as someone who will, in her own words, make “countering BDS a priority.”

In a letter to potential donors she uses exactly the same equation of anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism that we find in the U.C. document:

I am writing to express my alarm over the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction [sic] movement, or “BDS,” a global effort to isolate the State of Israel by ending commercial and academic exchanges.  I know you agree that we need to make countering BDS a priority.

I am seeking your advice on how we can work together—across party lines and with a diverse array of voices—to reverse this trend with information and advocacy, and fight back against further attempts to isolate and delegitimize Israel….

I am also very concerned by attempts to compare Israel to South African apartheid.

Israel is a vibrant democracy in a region dominated by autocracy, and it faces existential threats to its survival.  Particularly at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise around the world—especially in Europe—we need to repudiate forceful efforts to malign and undermine Israel and the Jewish people.

And on Monday, in her appearance before AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), Clinton doubled down on her support of Israel.  As CommonDreams reports:
During the address, Clinton vowed to take the U.S.-Israel relationship to “the next level”—a level which seemingly includes more war and imperialism, few, if any, rights for Palestinians, and definitely no economic boycotts of Israel….
Later, Clinton doubled down on her previous pledge to dismantle the growing international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, linking the campaign against Palestinian apartheid to anti-Semitism, saying “we must repudiate all efforts to malign, isolate and undermine Israel and the Jewish people.”
In a statement to Common Dreams, Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, said that the speech “is a reminder of the current limits of the mainstream discourse on Israel, which rely on racist and Islamophobic tropes to justify unquestioning support for Israel.”

“From Democrats to Republicans, the message is the same,” Vilkomerson continued. “More arms for Israel, a stronger relationship between Israel and the U.S., no mention of Palestinian rights, and no recognition of the impossible contradiction of being both democratic and Jewish when the state is predicated on maintaining systems of unequal rights and rule by military occupation.”

This is deeply troubling, especially as the Palestinian cause has now been established as one of the most pressing human rights issues of our age.  Education on this issue therefore needs to be rigorous, debated, argued, in order for us to make informed decisions and take meaningful action.

The suppression of ideas is anathema to the university, but this is exactly what is being suggested by reputed leaders in education and politics, all under this deceitful equation.

Most demeaning speech to the US citizens: Hillary speech to AIPAC

Mind you that Sanders declined the invitation: He is Not in the mood of licking asses

I did erase all these mindless Applauses in the script that occurred after each sentence

@ryanbeckwith March 21, 2016

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spoke to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Monday about the relationship between the United States and Israel.

Here is a full transcript of her remarks.

It is wonderful to be here and see so many friends. I’ve spoken at a lot of AIPAC conferences in the past, but this has to be one of the biggest yet, and there are so many young people here, thousands of college students from hundreds of campuses around the country. I think we should all give them a hand for being here and beginning their commitment to this important cause.

You will keep the U.S.-Israel relationship going strong. You know, as a senator from New York and secretary of State I’ve had the privilege of working closely with AIPAC members to strengthen and deepen America’s ties with Israel.

Now, we may not have always agreed on every detail, but we’ve always shared an unwavering, unshakable commitment to our alliance and to Israel’s future as a secure and democratic homeland for the Jewish people. (How can this be democratic if minorities are excluded from the process?)

CLINTON: And your support helped us expand security and intelligence cooperation, developed the Iron Dome missile defense system, build a global coalition to impose the toughest sanctions in history on Iran and so much more.

Since my first visit to Israel 35 years ago, I have returned many times and made many friends. I have worked with and learned from some of Israel’s great leaders — although I don’t think Yitzhak Rabin ever forgave me for banishing him to the White House balcony when he wanted to smoke.

Now I am here as a candidate for president, and I know that all of you understand what’s at stake in this election. (Vigorous licking of asses to multinationals and defence contractors?)

Our next president will walk into the Oval Office next January and immediately face a world of both perils we must meet with strength and skill, and opportunities we must seize and build on.

The next president will sit down at that desk and start making decisions that will affect both the lives and livelihoods of every American, and the security of our friends around the world. So we have to get this right.

As AIPAC members, you understand that while the turmoil of the Middle East presents enormous challenge and complexity, walking away is not an option. (As long as military involvement is Not the option everytime)

Candidates for president who think the United States can outsource Middle East security to dictators, or that America no longer has vital national interests at stake in this region are dangerously wrong. (Like what are these vital interests? Keep supporting the most obscurantist Wahhabi Kingdom?)

It would be a serious mistake for the United States to abandon our responsibilities, or cede the mantle of leadership for global peace and security to anyone else.

As we gather here, three evolving threats — Iran’s continued aggression, a rising tide of extremism across a wide arc of instability, and the growing effort to de-legitimize Israel on the world stage — are converging to make the U.S.-Israel alliance more indispensable than ever. (Isn’t the Saudi Kingdom aggressing Yemen?)

We have to combat all these trends with even more intense security and diplomatic cooperation. The United States and Israel must be closer than ever, stronger than ever and more determined than ever to prevail against our common adversaries and to advance our shared values.

CLINTON: This is especially true at a time when Israel faces brutal terrorist stabbings, shootings and vehicle attacks at home. (And discharging the machine guns on kids for attempting to stab? or because girls had scissors in their bags?)

Parents worry about letting their children walk down the street. Families live in fear. Just a few weeks ago, a young American veteran and West Point graduate named Taylor Force was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist near the Jaffa Port. These attacks must end immediately…

And Palestinian leaders need to stop inciting violence, stop celebrating terrorists as martyrs and stop paying rewards to their families.

Because we understand the threat Israel faces we know we can never take for granted the strength of our alliance or the success of our efforts. Today, Americans and Israelis face momentous choices that will shape the future of our relationship and of both our nations. The first choice is this: are we prepared to take the U.S./Israel alliance to the next level? (Up her ass?)

This relationship has always been stronger and deeper than the headlines might lead you to believe. Our work together to develop the Iron Dome saved many Israeli lives when Hamas rockets began to fly.

I saw its effectiveness firsthand in 2012 when I worked with Prime Minister Netanyahu to negotiate a cease fire in Gaza. And if I’m fortunate enough to be elected president, the United States will reaffirm we have a strong and enduring national interest in Israel’s security. (A ceasefire that changed nothing in the conditions of the Palestinians in Gaza)

And we will never allow Israel’s adversaries to think a wedge can be driven between us.

As we have differences, as any friends do, we will work to resolve them quickly and respectfully. We will also be clear that the United States has an enduring interest in and commitment to a more peaceful, more stable, more secure Middle East. And we will step up our efforts to achieve that outcome.

Indeed, at a time of unprecedented chaos and conflict in the region, America needs an Israel strong enough to deter and defend against its enemies, strong enough to work with us to tackle shared challenges and strong enough to take bold steps in the pursuit of peace. (How stronger in weapon acquisition? Israel is already the most overburdened with all kinds of weapons and still failing to have the courage to recognize the Palestinians as an entity)

That’s why I believe we must take our alliance to the next level. I hope a new 10-year defense memorandum of understanding is concluded as soon as possible to meet Israel’s security needs far into the future.

CLINTON: That will also send a clear message to Israel’s enemies that the United States and Israel stand together united.

It’s also why, as president, I will make a firm commitment to ensure Israel maintains its qualitative military edge.

The United States should provide Israel with the most sophisticated defense technology so it can deter and stop any threats.

That includes bolstering Israeli missile defenses with new systems like the Arrow Three and David’s Sling. (Israel consider Palestinian traditional stone slings as the most dangerous weapon they ever manufactured

And we should work together to develop better tunnel detection, technology to prevent armed smuggling, kidnapping and terrorist attacks.

One of the first things I’ll do in office is invite the Israeli prime minister to visit the White House. (To do what? Bring another list of weapons that Israel need?)

And I will send a delegation from the Pentagon and the joint chiefs to Israel for early consultations. Let’s also expand our collaboration beyond security. Together, we can build an even more vibrant culture of innovation that tightens the links between Silicon Valley and Israeli tech companies and entrepreneurs.

There is much Americans can learn from Israel, from cybersecurity to energy security to water security and just on an everyday people- to-people level. And it’s especially important to continue fostering relationships between American and Israeli young people who may not always remember our shared past. They are the future of our relationship and we have to do more to promote that. (She means the technologies that Israel frequently steal from the USA?)

Many of the young people here today are on the front lines of the battle to oppose the alarming boycott, divestment and sanctions movement known as BDS.

Particularly at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise across the world, especially in Europe, we must repudiate all efforts to malign, isolate and undermine Israel and the Jewish people.

I’ve been sounding the alarm for a while now. As I wrote last year in a letter to the heads of major American Jewish organizations, we have to be united in fighting back against BDS. Many of its proponents have demonized Israeli scientists and intellectuals, even students.

CLINTON: To all the college students who may have encountered this on campus, I hope you stay strong. Keep speaking out. Don’t let anyone silence you, bully you or try to shut down debate, especially in places of learning like colleges and universities.

Anti-Semitism has no place in any civilized society, not in America, not in Europe, not anywhere. (Are Moslems and citizens  from the Arab countries considered Semitic?)

Now, all of this work defending Israel’s legitimacy, expanding security and economic ties, taking our alliance to the next level depends on electing a president with a deep, personal commitment to Israel’s future as a secure, Democratic Jewish state, and to America’s responsibilities as a global leader.

Tonight, you’ll hear from candidates with very different visions of American leadership in the region and around the world. You’ll get a glimpse of a potential U.S. foreign policy that would insult our allies, not engage them, and embolden our adversaries, not defeat them.

For the security of Israel and the world, we need America to remain a respected global leader, committed to defending and advancing the international order.

An America able to block efforts to isolate or attack Israel. The alternative is unthinkable.

Yes, we need steady hands, not a president who says he’s neutral on Monday, pro-Israel on Tuesday, and who knows what on Wednesday, because everything’s negotiable.

Well, my friends, Israel’s security is non-negotiable.

I have sat in Israeli hospital rooms holding the hands of men and women whose bodies and lives were torn apart by terrorist bombs. I’ve listened to doctors describe the shrapnel left in a leg, an arm or even a head. (And why she hated to hold the hands of Palestinian babies and kids?)

That’s why I feel so strongly that America can’t ever be neutral when it comes to Israel’s security or survival. We can’t be neutral when rockets rain down on residential neighborhoods, when civilians are stabbed in the street, when suicide bombers target the innocent. Some things aren’t negotiable.

And anyone who doesn’t understand that has no business being our president. (Really? How about you get off your tiny horse?)

CLINTON: The second choice we face is whether we will have the strength and commitment to confront the adversaries that threaten us, especially Iran. For many years, we’ve all been rightly focused on the existential danger of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon. After all, this remains an extremist regime that threatens to annihilate Israel.

That’s why I led the diplomacy to impose crippling sanctions and force Iran to the negotiating table, and why I ultimately supported the agreement that has put a lid on its nuclear program.

Today Iran’s enriched uranium is all but gone, thousands of centrifuges have stopped spinning, Iran’s potential breakout time has increased and new verification measures are in place to help us deter and detect any cheating. I really believe the United States, Israel and the world are safer as a result.

But still, as I laid out at a speech at the Brookings Institution last year, it’s not good enough to trust and verify. Our approach must be distrust and verify.

This deal must come with vigorous enforcement, strong monitoring, clear consequences for any violations and a broader strategy to confront Iran’s aggression across the region. We cannot forget that Tehran’s fingerprints are on nearly every conflict across the Middle East, from Syria to Lebanon to Yemen.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and its proxies are attempting to establish a position on the Golan from which to threaten Israel, and they continue to fund Palestinian terrorists. In Lebanon, Hezbollah is amassing an arsenal of increasingly sophisticated rockets and artillery that well may be able to hit every city in Israel.

Tonight, you will hear a lot of rhetoric from the other candidates about Iran, but there’s a big difference between talking about holding Tehran accountable and actually doing it. Our next president has to be able to hold together our global coalition and impose real consequences for even the smallest violations of this agreement.

We must maintain the legal and diplomatic architecture to turn all the sanctions back on if need. If I’m elected the leaders of Iran will have no doubt that if we see any indication that they are violating their commitment not to seek, develop or acquire nuclear weapons, the United States will act to stop it, and that we will do so with force if necessary.

Iranian provocations, like the recent ballistic missile tests, are also unacceptable and should be answered firmly and quickly including with more sanctions.

Those missiles were stamped with words declaring, and I quote, “Israel should be wiped from the pages of history.” We know they could reach Israel or hit the tens of thousands of American troops stationed in the Middle East. This is a serious danger and it demands a serious response.

CLINTON: The United States must also continue to enforce existing sanctions and impose additional sanctions as needed on Iran and the Revolutionary Guard for their sponsorship of terrorism, illegal arms transfers, human rights violations and other illicit behaviors like cyber attacks. We should continue to demand the safe return of Robert Levinson and all American citizens unjustly held in Iranian prisons.

And we must work closely with Israel and other partners to cut off the flow of money and arms from Iran to Hezbollah. If the Arab League can designate all of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, surely it is time for our friends in Europe and the rest of the international community to do so as well and to do that now.

At the same time, America should always stand with those voices inside Iran calling for more openness. Now look, we know the supreme leader still calls the shots and that the hard-liners are intent on keeping their grip on power. But the Iranian people themselves deserve a better future, and they are trying to make their voices heard. They should know that America is not their enemy, they should know we will support their efforts to bring positive change to Iran.

Now, of course, Iran is not the only threat we and Israel face. The United States and Israel also have to stand together against the threat from ISIS and other radical jihadists. An ISIS affiliate in the Sinai is reportedly stepping up attempts to make inroads in Gaza and partner with Hamas. On Saturday, a number of Israelis and other foreigners were injured or killed in a bombing in Istanbul that may well be linked to ISIS. Two of the dead are U.S.-Israeli dual nationals.

This is a threat that knows no borders. That’s why I’ve laid out a plan to take the fight to ISIS from the air, on the ground with local forces and online where they recruit and inspire. Our goal cannot be to contain ISIS, we must defeat ISIS.

And here is a third choice. Will we keep working toward a negotiated peace or lose forever the goal of two states for two peoples? Despite many setbacks, I remain convinced that peace with security is possible and that it is the only way to guarantee Israel’s long-term survival as a strong Jewish and democratic state.

CLINTON: It may be difficult to imagine progress in this current climate when many Israelis doubt that a willing and capable partner for peace even exists. But inaction cannot be an option. Israelis deserve a secure homeland for the Jewish people. Palestinians should be able to govern themselves in their own state, in peace and dignity. And only a negotiated two-state agreement can survive those outcomes.

If we look at the broader regional context, converging interests between Israel and key Arab states could make it possible to promote progress on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Israelis and Palestinians could contribute toward greater cooperation between Israel and Arabs.

I know how hard all of this is. I remember what it took just to convene Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas for the three sessions of direct face-to-face talks in 2010 that I presided over. But Israelis and Palestinians cannot give up on the hope of peace. That will only make it harder later.

All of us need to look for opportunities to create the conditions for progress, including by taking positive actions that can rebuild trust — like the recent constructive meetings between the Israeli and Palestinian finance ministers aiming to help bolster the Palestinian economy, or the daily on-the-ground security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

But at the same time, all of us must condemn actions that set back the cause of peace. Terrorism should never be encouraged or celebrated, and children should not be taught to hate in schools. That poisons the future.

Everyone has to do their part by avoiding damaging actions, including with respect to settlements. Now, America has an important role to play in supporting peace efforts. And as president, I would continue the pursuit of direct negotiations. And let me be clear — I would vigorously oppose any attempt by outside parties to impose a solution, including by the U.N. Security Council.

There is one more choice that we face together, and in some ways, it may be the most important of all. Will we, as Americans and as Israelis, stay true to the shared democratic values that have always been at the heart of our relationship? We are both nations built by immigrants and exiles seeking to live and worship in freedom, nations built on principles of equality, tolerance and pluralism.

At our best, both Israel and America are seen as a light unto the nations because of those values.

CLINTON: This is the real foundation of our alliance, and I think it’s why so many Americans feel such a deep emotional connection with Israel. I know that I do. And it’s why we cannot be neutral about Israel and Israel’s future, because in Israel’s story, we see our own, and the story of all people who struggle for freedom and self-determination. There’s so many examples. You know, we look at the pride parade in Tel Aviv, one of the biggest and most prominent in the world.

And we marvel that such a bastion of liberty exists in a region so plagued by intolerance. We see the vigorous, even raucous debate in Israeli politics and feel right at home.

And, of course, some of us remember a woman, Golda Meir, leading Israel’s government decades ago and wonder what’s taking us so long here in America? (She is the one who declared There are No Palestinians)

But we cannot rest on what previous generations have accomplished. Every generation has to renew our values. And, yes, even fight for them. Today, Americans and Israelis face currents of intolerance and extremism that threaten the moral foundations of our societies.

Now in a democracy, we’re going to have differences. But what Americans are hearing on the campaign trail this year is something else entirely: encouraging violence, playing coy with white supremacists, calling for 12 million immigrants to be rounded up and deported, demanding we turn away refugees because of their religion, and proposing a ban on all Muslims entering the United States.

Now, we’ve had dark chapters in our history before. We remember the nearly 1,000 Jews aboard the St. Louis who were refused entry in 1939 and sent back to Europe. But America should be better than this. And I believe it’s our responsibility as citizens to say so.

If you see bigotry, oppose it. If you see violence, condemn it. If you see a bully, stand up to him.

On Wednesday evening, Jews around the world will celebrate the Festival of Purim, and children will learn the story of Esther, who refused to stay silent in the face of evil. It wasn’t easy. She had a good life. And by speaking out, she risked everything.

But as Mordecai reminded her, we all have an obligation to do our part when danger gathers. And those of us with power or influence have a special responsibility to do what’s right. As Elie Wiesel said when accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

So, my friends, let us never be neutral or silent in the face of bigotry. Together let’s defend the shared values that already make America and Israel great.

CLINTON: Let us do the hard work necessary to keep building our friendship and reach out to the next generation of Americans and Israelis so the bonds between our nations grow even deeper and stronger. We are stronger together, and if we face the future side by side, I know for both Israel and America, our best days are still ahead.

How much of a lie? Over $6bn yearly USA aid to Israel. A third of total foreign aids. And more from Europe

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, December 1997, Pages 43-45

The Cost of Israel to U.S. Taxpayers

Mind you that the initial colonies in Israel were established with the massive infusion of financial aids coming from the USA.

True Lies About U.S. Aid to Israel

By Richard H. Curtiss

For many years the American media said that “Israel receives $1.8 billion in military aid” or that “Israel receives $1.2 billion in economic aid.”

Both statements were true, but since they were never combined to give us the complete total of annual U.S. aid to Israel, they also were lies—true lies.

Recently Americans have begun to read and hear that “Israel receives $3 billion in annual U.S. foreign aid.” That’s true. But it’s still a lie.

The problem is that in fiscal 1997 alone, Israel received from a variety of other U.S. federal budgets at least $525.8 million above and beyond its $3 billion from the foreign aid budget, and yet another $2 billion in federal loan guarantees.

So the complete total of U.S. grants and loan guarantees to Israel for fiscal 1997 was $5,525,800,000.

One can truthfully blame the mainstream media for never digging out these figures for themselves, because none ever have.

They were compiled by the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. But the mainstream media certainly are not alone. Although Congress authorizes America’s foreign aid total, the fact that more than a third of it goes to a country smaller in both area and population than Hong Kong probably never has been mentioned on the floor of the Senate or House. Yet it’s been going on for more than a generation.

Probably the only members of Congress who even suspect the full total of U.S. funds received by Israel each year are the privileged few committee members who actually mark it up.

And almost all members of the concerned committees are Jewish, have taken huge campaign donations orchestrated by Israel’s Washington, DC lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), or both. These congressional committee members are paid to act, not talk. So they do and they don’t.

The same applies to the president, the secretary of state, and the foreign aid administrator. They all submit a budget that includes aid for Israel, which Congress approves, or increases, but never cuts.

But no one in the executive branch mentions that of the few remaining U.S. aid recipients worldwide, all of the others are developing nations which either make their military bases available to the U.S., are key members of international alliances in which the U.S. participates, or have suffered some crippling blow of nature to their abilities to feed their people such as earthquakes, floods or droughts.

Israel, whose troubles arise solely from its unwillingness to give back land it seized in the 1967 war in return for peace with its neighbors, does not fit those criteria.

In fact, Israel’s 1995 per capita gross domestic product was $15,800. That put it below Britain at $19,500 and Italy at $18,700 and just above Ireland at $15,400 and Spain at $14,300.

All four of those European countries have contributed a very large share of immigrants to the U.S., yet none has organized an ethnic group to lobby for U.S. foreign aid.

Instead, all four send funds and volunteers to do economic development and emergency relief work in other less fortunate parts of the world.

The lobby that Israel and its supporters have built in the United States to make all this aid happen, and to ban discussion of it from the national dialogue, goes far beyond AIPAC, with its $15 million budget, its 150 employees, and its five or six registered lobbyists who manage to visit every member of Congress individually once or twice a year.

AIPAC, in turn, can draw upon the resources of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, a roof group set up solely to coordinate the efforts of some 52 national Jewish organizations on behalf of Israel.

Among them are Hadassah, the Zionist women’s organization, which organizes a steady stream of American Jewish visitors to Israel; the American Jewish Congress, which mobilizes support for Israel among members of the traditionally left-of-center Jewish mainstream; and the American Jewish Committee, which plays the same role within the growing middle-of-the-road and right-of-center Jewish community.

The American Jewish Committee also publishes Commentary,one of the Israel lobby’s principal national publications.

Perhaps the most controversial of these groups is B’nai B’rith’s Anti-Defamation League. Its original highly commendable purpose was to protect the civil rights of American Jews. Over the past generation, however, the ADL has regressed into a conspiratorial and, with a $45 million budget, extremely well-funded hate group.

In the 1980s, during the tenure of chairman Seymour Reich, who went on to become chairman of the Conference of Presidents, ADL was found to have circulated two annual fund-raising letters warning Jewish parents against allegedly negative influences on their children arising from the increasing Arab presence on American university campuses.

More recently, FBI raids on ADL’s Los Angeles and San Francisco offices revealed that an ADL operative had purchased files stolen from the San Francisco police department that a court had ordered destroyed because they violated the civil rights of the individuals on whom they had been compiled.

ADL, it was shown, had added the illegally prepared and illegally obtained material to its own secret files, compiled by planting informants among Arab-American, African-American, anti-Apartheid and peace and justice groups.

The ADL infiltrators took notes of the names and remarks of speakers and members of audiences at programs organized by such groups.

ADL agents even recorded the license plates of persons attending such programs and then suborned corrupt motor vehicles department employees or renegade police officers to identify the owners.

Although one of the principal offenders fled the United States to escape prosecution, no significant penalties were assessed.

ADL’s Northern California office was ordered to comply with requests by persons upon whom dossiers had been prepared to see their own files, but no one went to jail and as yet no one has paid fines.

Not surprisingly, a defecting employee revealed in an article he published in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs that AIPAC, too, has such “enemies” files.

They are compiled for use by pro-Israel journalists like Steven Emerson and other so-called “terrorism experts,” and also by professional, academic or journalistic rivals of the persons described for use in black-listing, defaming, or denouncing them.

What is never revealed is that AIPAC’s “opposition research” department, under the supervision of Michael Lewis, son of famed Princeton University Orientalist Bernard Lewis, is the source of this defamatory material.

But this is not AIPAC’s most controversial activity.

In the 1970s, when Congress put a cap on the amount its members could earn from speakers’ fees and book royalties over and above their salaries, it halted AIPAC’s most effective ways of paying off members for voting according to AIPAC recommendations. Members of AIPAC’s national board of directors solved the problem by returning to their home states and creating political action committees (PACs).

Most special interests have PACs, as do many major corporations, labor unions, trade associations and public-interest groups. But the pro-Israel groups went wild. To date some 126 pro-Israel PACs have been registered, and no fewer than 50 have been active in every national election over the past generation.

An individual voter can give up to $2,000 to a candidate in an election cycle, and a PAC can give a candidate up to $10,000.

However, a single special interest with 50 PACs can give a candidate who is facing a tough opponent, and who has voted according to its recommendations, up to half a million dollars. That’s enough to buy all the television time needed to get elected in most parts of the country.

Even candidates who don’t need this kind of money certainly don’t want it to become available to a rival from their own party in a primary election, or to an opponent from the opposing party in a general election.

As a result, all but a handful of the 535 members of the Senate and House vote as AIPAC instructs when it comes to aid to Israel, or other aspects of U.S. Middle East policy.

There is something else very special about AIPAC’s network of political action committees. Nearly all have deceptive names. Who could possibly know that the Delaware Valley Good Government Association in Philadelphia, San Franciscans for Good Government in California, Cactus PAC in Arizona, Beaver PAC in Wisconsin, and even Icepac in New York are really pro-Israel PACs under deep cover?

Hiding AIPAC’s Tracks

In fact, the congressmembers know it when they list the contributions they receive on the campaign statements they have to prepare for the Federal Election Commission. But their constituents don’t know this when they read these statements. So just as no other special interest can put so much “hard money” into any candidate’s election campaign as can the Israel lobby, no other special interest has gone to such elaborate lengths to hide its tracks.

Although AIPAC, Washington’s most feared special-interest lobby, can hide how it uses both carrots and sticks to bribe or intimidate members of Congress, it can’t hide all of the results.

Anyone can ask one of their representatives in Congress for a chart prepared by the Congressional Research Service, a branch of the Library of Congress, that shows Israel received $62.5 billion in foreign aid from fiscal year 1949 through fiscal year 1996.

People in the national capital area also can visit the library of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Rosslyn, Virginia, and obtain the same information, plus charts showing how much foreign aid the U.S. has given other countries as well.

Visitors will learn that in precisely the same 1949-1996 time frame, the total of U.S. foreign aid to all of the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean combined was $62,497,800,000—almost exactly the amount given to tiny Israel.

According to the Population Reference Bureau of Washington, DC, in mid-1995 the sub-Saharan countries had a combined population of 568 million.

The $24,415,700,000 in foreign aid they had received by then amounted to $42.99 per sub-Saharan African.

Similarly, with a combined population of 486 million, all of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean together had received $38,254,400,000. This amounted to $79 per person.

The per capita U.S. foreign aid to Israel’s 5.8 million people during the same period was $10,775.48. This meant that for every dollar the U.S. spent on an African, it spent $250.65 on an Israeli, and for every dollar it spent on someone from the Western Hemisphere outside the United States, it spent $214 on an Israeli.

Shocking Comparisons

These comparisons already seem shocking, but they are far from the whole truth. Using reports compiled by Clyde Mark of the Congressional Research Service and other sources, freelance writer Frank Collins tallied for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, all of the extra items for Israel buried in the budgets of the Pentagon and other federal agencies in fiscal year 1993.Washington Report on Middle East Affairs,news editor Shawn Twing did the same thing for fiscal years 1996 and 1997.

They uncovered $1.271 billion in extras in FY 1993, $355.3 million in FY 1996 and $525.8 million in FY 1997. These represent an average increase of 12.2 percent over the officially recorded foreign aid totals for the same fiscal years, and they probably are not complete. It’s reasonable to assume, therefore, that a similar 12.2% hidden increase has prevailed over all of the years Israel has received aid.

As of Oct. 31, 1997 Israel will have received $3.05 billion in U.S. foreign aid for fiscal year 1997 and $3.08 billion in foreign aid for fiscal year 1998. Adding the 1997 and 1998 totals to those of previous years since 1949 yields a total of $74,157,600,000 in foreign aid grants and loans.

Assuming that the actual totals from other budgets average 12.2 percent of that amount, that brings the grand total to $83,204,827,200.

But that’s not quite all. Receiving its annual foreign aid appropriation during the first month of the fiscal year, instead of in quarterly installments as do other recipients, is just another special privilege Congress has voted for Israel. It enables Israel to invest the money in U.S. Treasury notes.

That means that the U.S., which has to borrow the money it gives to Israel, pays interest on the money it has granted to Israel in advance, while at the same time Israel is collectinginterest on the money. That interest to Israel from advance payments adds another $1.650 billion to the total, making it $84,854,827,200.

That’s the number you should write down for total aid to Israel. And that’s $14,346 each for each man, woman and child in Israel.

It’s worth noting that that figure does not include U.S. government loan guarantees to Israel, of which Israel has drawn $9.8 billion to date. They greatly reduce the interest rate the Israeli government pays on commercial loans, and they place additional burdens on U.S. taxpayers, especially if the Israeli government should default on any of them. But since neither the savings to Israel nor the costs to U.S. taxpayers can be accurately quantified, they are excluded from consideration here.

Further, friends of Israel never tire of saying that Israel has never defaulted on repayment of a U.S. government loan.

It would be equally accurate to say Israel has never been required to repay a U.S. government loan. The truth of the matter is complex, and designed to be so by those who seek to conceal it from the U.S. taxpayer.

Most U.S. loans to Israel are forgiven, and many were made with the explicit understanding that they would be forgiven before Israel was required to repay them.

By disguising as loans what in fact were grants, cooperating members of Congress exempted Israel from the U.S. oversight that would have accompanied grants. On other loans, Israel was expected to pay the interest and eventually to begin repaying the principal.

But the so-called Cranston Amendment, which has been attached by Congress to every foreign aid appropriation since 1983, provides that economic aid to Israel will never dip below the amount Israel is required to pay on its outstanding loans. In short, whether U.S. aid is extended as grants or loans to Israel, it never returns to the Treasury.

Israel enjoys other privileges. While most countries receiving U.S. military aid funds are expected to use them for U.S. arms, ammunition and training, Israel can spend part of these funds on weapons made by Israeli manufacturers. Also, when it spends its U.S. military aid money on U.S. products, Israel frequently requires the U.S. vendor to buy components or materials from Israeli manufacturers.

Thus, though Israeli politicians say that their own manufacturers and exporters are making them progressively less dependent upon U.S. aid, in fact those Israeli manufacturers and exporters are heavily subsidized by U.S. aid.

Although it’s beyond the parameters of this study, it’s worth mentioning that Israel also receives foreign aid from some other countries. After the United States, the principal donor of both economic and military aid to Israel is Germany.

By far the largest component of German aid has been in the form of restitution payments to victims of Nazi attrocities. But there also has been extensive German military assistance to Israel during and since the Gulf war, and a variety of German educational and research grants go to Israeli institutions.

The total of German assistance in all of these categories to the Israeli government, Israeli individuals and Israeli private institutions has been some $31 billion or $5,345 per capita, bringing the per capita total of U.S. and German assistance combined to almost $20,000 per Israeli.

Since very little public money is spent on the more than 20 percent of Israeli citizens who are Muslim or Christian, the actual per capita benefits received by Israel’s Jewish citizens would be considerably higher.

True Cost to U.S. Taxpayers

Generous as it is, what Israelis actually got in U.S. aid is considerably less than what it has cost U.S. taxpayers to provide it. The principal difference is that so long as the U.S. runs an annual budget deficit, every dollar of aid the U.S. gives Israel has to be raised through U.S. government borrowing.

In an article in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, for December 1991/January 1992, Frank Collins estimated the costs of this interest, based upon prevailing interest rates for every year since 1949. I have updated this by applying a very conservative 5% interest rate for subsequent years, and confined the amount upon which the interest is calculated to grants, not loans or loan guarantees.

On this basis the $84.8 billion in grants, loans and commodities Israel has received from the U.S. since 1949 cost the U.S. an additional $49,936,880,000 in interest.

There are many other costs of Israel to U.S. taxpayers, such as most or all of the $45.6 billion in U.S. foreign aid to Egypt since Egypt made peace with Israel in 1979 (compared to $4.2 billion in U.S. aid to Egypt for the preceding 26 years). U.S. foreign aid to Egypt, which is pegged at two-thirds of U.S. foreign aid to Israel, averages $2.2 billion per year.

There also have been immense political and military costs to the U.S. for its consistent support of Israel during Israel’s half-century of disputes with the Palestinians and all of its Arab neighbors.

In addition, there have been the approximately $10 billion in U.S. loan guarantees and perhaps $20 billion in tax-exempt contributions made to Israel by American Jews in the nearly half-century since Israel was created.

Even excluding all of these extra costs, America’s $84.8 billion in aid to Israel from fiscal years 1949 through 1998, and the interest the U.S. paid to borrow this money, has cost U.S. taxpayers $134.8 billion, not adjusted for inflation. Or, put another way, the nearly $14,630 every one of 5.8 million Israelis received from the U.S. government by Oct. 31, 1997 has cost American taxpayers $23,240 per Israeli.

It would be interesting to know how many of those American taxpayers believe they and their families have received as much from the U.S. Treasury as has everyone who has chosen to become a citizen of Israel.

But it’s a question that will never occur to the American public because, so long as America’s mainstream media, Congress and president maintain their pact of silence, few Americans will ever know the true cost of Israel to U.S. taxpayers.


Richard Curtiss, a retired U.S. foreign service officer, is the executive editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

Lopsided U.S. Visa-Waiver?

There is this perception that naturalized United States citizens often have a greater appreciation of their adopted country than those born on American soil.

YOUSEF MUNAYYER published in the Opinion Pages of NYT this October 28, 2013:

As a naturalized U.S. citizen who has traveled extensively, particularly across borders where the very notion of citizenship can be a contentious political idea, I have a deep appreciation for my navy blue passport. (Maybe allied countries should agree on passport color to make it easier for crossing borders?)

As I made my way, after a recent trip, from the plane through passport control in Newark’s Liberty Airport, I found myself awestruck.

“Welcome back,” said the immigration official, after scanning my passport, briefly glancing at a computer screen and letting me pass — a process that took about 30 seconds.

“That’s it?” I found myself thinking. I had only been gone three weeks and had already managed to forget what it felt like to have my rights as a citizen respected.

I’d just come back from traveling through Israel and the Palestinian territory it occupies.

In that part of the world, one approaches immigration kiosks prepared for a lengthy wait, inspections and harassing questions (this is true even with Israeli citizenship, which I also hold). The very choice of which travel document to present is considered a political act. The languages I spoke (or didn’t speak), my religion and line of work were all variables that could extend the time I spent at the border crossing.

But back in the States, it didn’t matter to the man at the kiosk that I had a funny-sounding name. It didn’t matter what my religion or ethnicity was. It didn’t matter what my political opinions were.

In a nation where citizenship is valued and discrimination is shunned, the re-entry process took only seconds. I was reminded of the tremendous value of my U.S. citizenship and the navy blue booklet I held in my hand.

I just wish Barbara Boxer would appreciate the value of U.S. citizenship as well. The senator is spearheading legislation that would dangerously devalue it.

The U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act, backed by the pro-Israel lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or Aipac, was introduced by Ms. Boxer and has 53 co-sponsors in the Senate. It legislates, for the first time, the inclusion of Israel in the U.S. visa-waiver program.

This means that Israelis can enter the United States without a visa.

Israel has long sought this prized designation but has always faced resistance from the State Department because the program requires reciprocity.

Israel has been known to routinely deny entry to American citizens, often Arabs or Muslims or others sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, under the usually bogus pretext of “security concerns.”

This discriminatory treatment of U.S. citizens prompted several members of Congress to write to Israel’s ambassador expressing concern that Israeli border officials were “disproportionately singling out, detaining and denying entry to Arab and Muslim Americans,” and requesting all Americans be “treated equally at Israeli ports of entry.”

Sandra Tamari’s case is one example. The 42-year-old U.S. citizen of Palestinian descent traveled to Israel in May of 2012 for an interfaith conference. Upon entry, she was required to provide her Gmail password to Israeli interrogators, who insisted on searching her personal account. After refusing to comply with this and other intrusive requests, she was denied entry and deported.

Numerous similar cases of U.S. citizens being asked for their e-mail and Facebook passwords prior to deportation have been reported. The case of Nour Joudah is another example. She was teaching English in a West Bank high school on a valid, multiple-entry work visa issued by Israel. When she attempted to re-enter Israel after traveling to Jordan for Christmas break, she was denied entry and deported.

Senator Boxer’s legislation, versions of which might pass in both the House and Senate, would allow Israel an exemption to reciprocity. In other words, Israel would get to determine which American citizens it permits to enter.

As an Israeli citizen who is also a Palestinian, I know this problem all too well.

I’ve witnessed firsthand the way Israel discriminates against its own non-Jewish citizens. I am routinely held up for questioning and inspection while watching Jewish Israelis zip by.

As an American citizen, I’m outraged that Senator Boxer and her colleagues are trying to pass a law that allows Israel to discriminate against U.S. citizens. All elected officials took an oath to defend the Constitution.

By legalizing discrimination against U.S. citizens they will violate that oath in both word and spirit.

Even if the problematic language giving Israel an exception is removed from the bill, including Israel in the visa-waiver program at all means that Arab-and Muslim-Americans will have to rely on ill-equipped government agencies like the State Department to enforce reciprocity.

And unfortunately, the State Department has been able to offer little assistance to U.S. citizens of Arab or Muslim origin who are denied entry to Israel, despite what our passports say about allowing Americans to “pass without delay or hindrance.” Instead, the U.S. government has regularly yielded to Israeli demands when it comes to the discriminatory treatment of Americans.

This is likely to continue. That means American citizens will continue to get turned away by Israel because of their ethnic background while the United States opens its doors to all Israelis.

This unequal treatment should not be permitted. Under no circumstances should the United States extend visa-waiver privileges to Israel, or any other state, unless it is willing to guarantee and demand equal treatment of its citizens and their protection from discrimination based on religion, ethnicity or national origin.

Yousef Munayyer is executive director of the Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development, a Palestinian advocacy group in Washington.

INTERNATIONAL NEW YORK TIMES


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