Israel wants its citizens to be able to enter the U.S. without getting visas. This is a major legislative ask from the Israel lobby. The problem is that the U.S. wants reciprocity for its citizens entering Israel: they can go in without a hurdle. But Israel wants an exemption.
Earlier this week The Hill published a piece (by Mike Coogan of the US Campaign to End the Occupation) explaining AIPAC’s demand:
AIPAC officials told members of Congress that there would need to be flexibility on this legal requirement to accommodate Israel’s ongoing discrimination against Arab- and Muslim-Americans who attempt to travel to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Though some congressional staffers have grumbled over the racist policy, Barbara Boxer and 17 other Senators have sponsored legislation to give AIPAC what it wants.
Glenn Greenwald has jumped on the disgraceful initiative, with an incisive analysis in the Guardian:
To accommodate this desire to discriminate, Boxer, Blunt and Aipac are now attempting to create a special exemption for Israel from the requirement to which all other countries are bound, and by which the US will be bound vis-a-vis Israelis. More amazingly, the only purpose of this exemption from these US senators would be to allow Israel to discriminate against the citizens of the country these senators are supposed to represent. As Mike Coogan of the US Campaign to End Israeli Occupation wrote in the Hill this week, “given that Israel views the mere existence of Palestinians as a threat, the [Boxer/Aipac bill] would essentially codify Israel’s discrimination against Palestinian-, Muslim-, and Arab-Americans into US law.” Indeed, Aipac is not even attempting to pretend this exemption has a non-discriminatory purpose.
Apparently, none of that is a concern for Barbara Boxer, Roy Blunt or Aipac. Protecting the equal rights of their own country’s citizens quite obviously has little significance when weighed against the supreme mandate to serve the interests of the Israeli government. That’s not hyperbole: how else can this bill be fairly described? The bill, formally named the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013, now has a total of 18 co-sponsors. That includes 9 Democrats and 9 Republicans, perfectly symbolizing how bipartisan is loyalty to Aipac on Capitol Hill..
Aipac and its supporters have long expressed righteous outrage at suggestions that they prioritize Israeli interests over US interests and those of American citizens. Yet it is hard to imagine a clearer or purer example of exactly that behavior than this pernicious bill. If you’re a US politician finding yourself working to allow a foreign government to discriminate against your own fellow citizens – by vesting that foreign country with a right that no other country (including your own) has – then you’re essentially broadcasting to the world that the interests of that foreign government take precedence over your own and over the equal rights of your own fellow citizens.
Thanks to Scott Roth.