Congress and AIPAC want to name Israel ‘major strategic partner’ — but AP highlights anti-Arab ‘discrimination’

Israel/Palestine
on 28 Comments
Nour Joudah
Nour Joudah

Matthew Lee is the Associated Press reporter who regularly stands up for Palestinian human rights in State Department briefings, and today he and a colleague have published an important story describing Congress’s efforts to push AIPAC-sponsored legislation that would put Israel in an enhanced category all its own — “Major Strategic Partner” — and give an American seal-of-approval to the country’s entry policies that discriminate against Arab-Americans.

The story features the disgraceful case of Nour Joudah, the Palestinian-American schoolteacher who was prevented by Israel from returning to her job in Ramallah this year due to Jim Crow-style “discrimination”– and because she refused to give border authorities the names and phone numbers of friends in Palestine.

The AP says that the Obama administration and some 16 lonely members of Congress are against the enhanced status for Israel because of the treatment of Joudah and others, but the opposition is soft-spoken out of fear of the Israel lobby. 

The AP reports that two bills in the House and Senate would:  

create a new category of U.S. ally – ‘major strategic partner’ – designating Israel as the only such nation. And they would call for the inclusion of Israel on a list of countries whose citizens can visit the United States for up to 90 days without a visa, granted they register electronically before boarding a flight.

The administration and some lawmakers are concerned the legislation doesn’t do enough to eliminate Israeli discrimination against Palestinians and Arab-Americans seeking to enter its borders.

Matt Lee and colleague Bradley Klapper go out of their way to state that AIPAC is supporting the bills, and that dissenters in high places are keeping their mouths shut. 

Some critics are sensitive about expressing their reservations in public, wishing to avoid getting in a public argument with a close ally, with the bills’ supporters or with the powerful pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, which is pushing for the legislation’s passage.

But AP says there is major pushback, and cites the case of Nour Joudah:

Last month, 15 Democratic members of Congress and one Republican wrote a letter to Israel’s ambassador in Washington expressing concern that Israeli border officials were “disproportionately singling out, detaining and denying entry to Arab and Muslim Americans.” They demanded equal treatment, according to the letter obtained by the AP.

One case they detailed was that of Nour Joudah, a teacher at a U.S.-funded school in the West Bank who was twice denied entry into Israel despite holding a valid multiple-entry visa. They also complained about Israel providing some Americans with restrictive visas that only allow them into Palestinian-controlled territory but not into Israel, forcing them to travel overland from Jordan instead of arriving at Tel Aviv’s international airport.

Other problems cited included instances of Israeli border officials blocking Americans at the border because of their political views and cases of U.S. citizens being forced to provide authorities with access to their personal email accounts at the risk of deportation.

Joudah wrote to Obama earlier this year, calling on him to speak out against the Jim Crow rules:

The Arab American Institute has documented hundreds of these cases, including Americans being asked humiliating questions, detained for hours, denied entry or strip-searched. Israeli authorities even mistreated an African-American U.S. Congresswoman before they realized who she was.

 

 

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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28 Responses

  1. James Canning
    July 15, 2013, 2:07 pm

    More subverting of national security interests of the American people, by Aipac and its stooges in the US Congress?

    • Krauss
      July 16, 2013, 12:43 am

      The level of whoredom that Congress shows upon an Apartheid state is atrocious. But it’s also a media failure. How many news organizations are going to pick up that AP story?

      As been said many times, the main difference between white ruled-South Africa and Apartheid Israel was that white ruled-South Africa never had even the faintest level of media support that Israel now enjoys.

      It goes back to the question of who owns the media and what their agenda is. Even Gentiles like Murdoch are fanatically pro-Israel, part of the reason, I suspect, is pragmatism(if you want to make it in the American media landscape) but also some of it is genuine racism and islamophobia.

      But still, hard for me to believe that Murdoch is a big fan of blacks. So it’s not like racism would have prevented apartheid SA from have gotten support. It’s just that one form of racism is okay, the other is not.

  2. Kathleen
    July 15, 2013, 2:12 pm

    Thanks Phil

  3. Woody Tanaka
    July 15, 2013, 2:23 pm

    Remember when US politicians used to act in the best interest of the US and it’s people and not the interest of an alien state and the fifth columnists in our midst who work on behalf of that alien state?

  4. ckg
    July 15, 2013, 2:52 pm

    I am unable to find any other references than this AP article to the letter to Oren signed last month by 16 congressmen. Who are the 16?

    • Citizen
      July 15, 2013, 5:29 pm

      @ ckg
      I also cannot find anything to identify who the courageous 16 are? Can you? All I found was this, which links to Annie Robbins here at MW 3 months ago: link to d7.nolet.com

    • Citizen
      July 16, 2013, 8:08 am

      From The Times Of Israel, yesterday:

      “…. would create a new category of US ally — “major strategic partner” — designating Israel as the only such nation. And they would call for the inclusion of Israel on a list of countries whose citizens can visit the United States for up to 90 days without a visa, granted they register electronically before boarding a flight.

      The House’s bill has clear bipartisan backing, with more than 300 co-sponsors. The Senate effort now has 45 co-sponsors, bringing it close to a majority. It is likely to be considered by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in September.

      Some critics are sensitive about expressing their reservations in public, wishing to avoid getting in a public argument with a close ally, with the bills’ supporters or with the powerful pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, which is pushing for the legislation’s passage.

      Boxer told The Associated Press the law would benefit US citizens by specifically requiring the secretaries of state and homeland security to certify that Israel is doing all it can to facilitate travel for Americans before it can enter the visa waiver program.

      In a response to lawmakers dated June 12, Israel’s departing ambassador said Americans were being accorded all rights “to which they are entitled” upon arrival in Israel.

      “Given the security challenges we face, every effort is extended in this regard,” Michael Oren wrote to Representative Keith Ellison and Andre Carson, the two Muslim members of Congress, and the others who signed the original letter.

  5. Justpassingby
    July 15, 2013, 3:05 pm

    Why spare the Words Congress?
    Why not call it:

    “the awesome superb great nice and delightful partner”.

    Question is, what are these people doing in the US. If they put Israel above US security or interests, the american Congress isnt the Place for these people.

  6. American
    July 15, 2013, 3:43 pm

    When anyone organizes a big protest and march on the AIPAC Offices with Treason and Sedition signs..let me know, I’ll hire a bus and bring a bunch of friends.

    The anti zionist Jewish orgs wont do this because the traitor word associated with anything Jewish still frightens them.

    But this is what it’s going to come to get rid of AIPAC and it’s influence so everyone might as well accept it and get on with it.

  7. Les
    July 15, 2013, 4:23 pm

    The bi-partisan nature of our Congress is an ever present reminder that American politics is under the control of a two headed monster.

  8. Citizen
    July 15, 2013, 5:35 pm

    Wikipedia on the subject proposed legislation’s opposition:

    Unnamed staffers for Congressional representatives said there is opposition to the security language because it seems to validate what they perceive as Israel’s tendency to turn away Arab Americans without a reason, although Israel insists this is done on the basis of security concerns. The other members of the program do not have such an exemption. Representative Brad Sherman and other supporters have responded that there exist at least five other countries with a visa refusal rate of over 3% which were allowed into the program, and these rates were higher than Israel’s 5.4% refusal rate. He added that he believes that accepting Israel to the visa waiver program wouldn’t cause discrimination, but rather end it, and criticized opponents of the bill as members of a campaign to delegitimize the state of Israel.[7]
    Mike Coogan, legislative director of the US campaign to end the Israeli occupation, criticized the bill for allegedly allowing Israel to “drag” the US into war against Iran, exempting Israel from sequestration cuts, and the designation of strategic ally. Coogan believes that the program would allow Israel to discriminate against Palestinian Americans, Arab Americans and Muslim-Americans who travel to Israel. He added that it would codify discrimination against them which is now illegal under US law.[10] Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now wrote that the bill “takes the extraordinary step of seeking to change the current U.S. law to create a special and unique exception for Israel in U.S. immigration law.”[11] James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, has lobbied against against the Senate language, and said passage of such a law would ratify “Israel’s position of creating two classes of citizen”.[7]

  9. Ellen
    July 15, 2013, 5:36 pm

    I received this incredibly vacuous and disingenuous response from the offices of Roy Blunt, an initiator of this treasonous bill. Read the language carefully. He does not seem to understand that Israel is not even an Ally of the US as it does not have any treaty of Alliance as the US is not able to make such a treaty of Alliance with entities that have no declared borders.

    Language “without jeopardizing the security of Israel” means a complete green light. Under the language of this bill, carried to it’s full logic, Israel can now even conduct Extraordinary Rendition of US citizens with the approval of our Senate.

    Letter below. If you care, call, write his office.

    “Thank you for your letter about your concerns regarding S. 462, the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013.

    This bipartisan legislation, which I introduced with Sen. Boxer, would designate Israel as a Major Strategic Partner of the United States and allow for greater coordination on a range of issues, including military defense, energy, water, and alternative fuel sources. It would also include Israel in the visa waiver program once they satisfy the requirements and provide reciprocal travel privileges for American citizens.

    While some have expressed concerns regarding Israel’s inclusion in the visa waiver program, the legislation includes language that would require the Department of Homeland Security, in coordination with the State Department, to ensure that Israel “has made every reasonable effort, without jeopardizing the security of the State of Israel, to ensure that reciprocal travel privileges are extended to all United States citizens.” This important provision ensures reciprocal benefits while preserving Israel’s sovereign right to determine whether entry by a specific individual poses a threat.

    Israel is one of America’s greatest and most strategic allies – occupying a corner of the world inhabited by some regimes that simply don’t like us. The relationship between the U.S. and Israel is essential to progress in the Middle East peace process, as well as to our own national security. S. 462 is an important step in strengthening our coordination with this important ally, and I’m hopeful my Senate colleagues will join me in supporting this legislation.

    Agai n, thank you for contacting me. I look forward to continuing our conversation on Facebook ( link to facebook.com ) and Twitter ( link to twitter.com ) about the important issues f acing Missouri and the country. I also encourage you to visit my website ( blunt.senate.gov ) to learn more about where I stand on the issues and sign-up for my e -newsletter .

    Sincere regards,

    Roy Blunt
    United States Senator”

    • RoHa
      July 15, 2013, 8:50 pm

      “Israel is one of America’s greatest and most strategic allies – occupying a corner of the world inhabited by some regimes that simply don’t like us. ”

      (a) Why don’t they like the US?

      (b) And what could Israel do to help?

      • James Canning
        July 16, 2013, 2:15 pm

        Israel could accept 2002 Saudi peace plan. With a few tweaks.

  10. Citizen
    July 15, 2013, 5:54 pm

    US Congress, led by Israel Firsters, is about to give Israel what it wants that it dares not give Americans: link to guardian.co.uk

  11. just
    July 15, 2013, 8:08 pm

    This is treasonous, imho. The world will not respect us for this blatant hypocrisy. I want to know who this gang of 16 are, and whether Kerry supports it.

    Ellen, I appreciate you sharing Blount’s letter with us; this is glaring propaganda:

    “Israel is one of America’s greatest and most strategic allies – occupying a corner of the world inhabited by some regimes that simply don’t like us. The relationship between the U.S. and Israel is essential to progress in the Middle East peace process, as well as to our own national security”

    It’s total BS! Why do some regimes not like us? Why, because they smell hypocrisy and witness terrible killing and destruction that we commit with regularity. We are not honest brokers for peace and reconciliation. I continue to be ashamed of us and our behavior– we need to do better; this legislation is not at all good for our image nor for our foreign policy.

  12. Blank State
    July 15, 2013, 11:03 pm

    “create a new category of U.S. ally – ‘major strategic partner’ – designating Israel as the only such nation. And they would call for the inclusion of Israel on a list of countries whose citizens can visit the United States for up to 90 days without a visa, granted they register electronically before boarding a flight”

    What a wonderful contribution to Israel’s ability to perform false flag terrorist events in the United States.

    • Citizen
      July 16, 2013, 9:05 am

      A unique catagory of ally, America’s only “major strategic partner” in the whole wide world, Israel, the size of NJ and on a permanent war footing in a region filled with Arab states, a region that produces and distributes so much of the world’s industrial fuel, oil. America is not enmeshed enough with this tiny nuclear-armed state, now our AIPAC drones in congress want MORE enmeshment in all vital areas of state concern.

      I’m sure you noticed Israel again (3rd time since Syria’s civil war, right?) attacked Syrian assets with its US made and funded F-16s, this time saying it acted to knock out Syria arming Hezbollah with new missiles Syria got from Russia. Syria has a mutual defense treaty with Hezbollah. Syria also has a mutual defense treaty with Iran. The US has no mutual defense treaty with Israel, but it has a bunch of mostly one-sided MOUs promising to guarantee Israel’s security in various ways, including it’s oil supply, even at the expense of US domestic oil needs. And now it looks like by September Israel will have a unique ally status as America’s one and only “major strategic ally.” What does that make our traditional allies, with whom we have mutual defense treaties? Many states are using proxies to fight in the Syrian Civil War. But isn’t Israel’s multiple direct attack on Syrian assets with Star of David flying high on its strikes? Isn’t that conduct a declaration of war on Syria, a sovereign state, albeit one immersed in a civil war? It looks like Israel will become our unique strategic partner this Fall–and then what will it do with its new stature?

  13. Citizen
    July 16, 2013, 9:19 am

    Also, our Congress is getting us more enmeshed with Israel even though Israel has once again did what it wants even if the USA doesn’t like it–in the lawsuit against US branch Of Bank Of China for laundering money going to terrorists attacking Israeli civilians in Israel, Netanyahu made a deal with China to pull a key witness against the Bank of China branch–because Israel’s striving to have more trade with China. link to chinhdangvu.blogspot.com

  14. DavidK
    July 16, 2013, 9:42 am

    Before the creation of Israel the United States had no enemies in the Middle East.

    • James Canning
      July 16, 2013, 2:02 pm

      True. Harry Truman’s foreign policy team knew this would change if Truman recognised Israel without prior definition of borders.

  15. Citizen
    July 16, 2013, 12:49 pm

    Jul 15, 2013 — New Cosponsors

    H.R. 938: United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013

    New Cosponsor: Rep. Ken Calvert [R-CA42]

    New Cosponsor: Rep. Jeff Denham [R-CA10]

    New Cosponsor: Rep. Charles Dent [R-PA15]

    New Cosponsor: Rep. Pete Gallego [D-TX23]

    New Cosponsor: Rep. Trey Gowdy [R-SC4]

    New Cosponsor: Rep. Kay Granger [R-TX12]

    New Cosponsor: Rep. Robert Latta [R-OH5]

    New Cosponsor: Rep. Ben Luján [D-NM3]

    New Cosponsor: Rep. Mike Quigley [D-IL5]

    New Cosponsor: Rep. Tim Ryan [D-OH13]

    New Cosponsor: Rep. Loretta Sanchez [D-CA46]

    New Cosponsor: Rep. Janice “Jan” Schakowsky [D-IL9]

    New Cosponsor: Rep. Bill Shuster [R-PA9]

    New Cosponsor: Rep. Jason Smith [R-MO8]

    New Cosponsor: Rep. Frank Wolf [R-VA10]

  16. American
    July 16, 2013, 2:02 pm

    Another example of the ‘deep state” of US Zionist-Israel within the US.
    Consider the ridiculous positions the US is always in as the ‘indentured servant’ to this special interest. .
    When we were discussing the Netanyahu China visit and the Isr claims of a grand alliance between Isr and China some time back we told the hasbara agents this is a pipe dream…China has no Jewish lobby and Isr cant subvert China’s interest to Israel’s as they have done in the US without that.

    ”US outraged after Israel backs out of terror suit”

    Congress, White House angry at Israel for decision to back out of trial against Bank of China for involvement in laundering of money for Hamas, Islamic Jihad. The reason: China conditioned Netanyahu’s state visit on Israeli promise not to testify in trial. Now, US threatening to subpoena Ambassador Oren

    Shimon Shiffer Published: 07.15.13, 15:06 / Israel News

    Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren was called back to Israel to take part in an emergency meeting convened this weekend by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu so that Oren could pass on messages sent by the US administration and Congress in the wake of tensions between the two countries.

    The tensions and lightening visit stem from the US’s outrage at Israel’s decision to back out of their commitment to a terror prosecution involving a Chinese bank allegedly laundering monies for Hamas so that Netanyahu and his family could embark on their State visit to the country last May.

    This weekend Nahum Barnea and Shimon Shiffer from Yedioth Ahronoth broke the story and revealed that the Chinese government threatened to cancel Netanyahu’s visit if Israel refused to promise that senior Israeli defense officials would refrain from testifying against the Bank of China in a federal court trial currently underway in New York.

    According to the report, China conditioned Netanyahu’s visit on the demand the officials retract their promise to testify in the trial being led by the family of terror victim.

    The case itself is a civil suit filed by Sheryl and Yekutiel Wultz from Florida, whose son Daniel was killed in terror attack in Tel Aviv in 2006 when he was only 16 years old.

    According to the suit, the money used by Hamas to undertake the terror attack reached the terrorist group through a money laundering scheme run the Chinese bank in which some $6 million were laundered through trade.

    The story has invoked the rage of the White House, a number of US congressmen and Jewish organizations active in the US who were flabbergasted by the decision to back out of a legal battle against the funding of international terror only in an attempt to prevent harm from coming to Netanyahu’s visit.

    On Sunday, during the meeting called by Netanyahu, Oren was meant to stress to the additional participants – among them ambassador designate Ron Dermer – that the Americans view with severity Israel’s decision to cave into China’s pressure and prevent testimonies which would legally link Hamas and the Islamic Jihad to the Bank of China.

    Oren was also to convey the American shock that Netanyahu, who the Americans call “Mr. Terror” for his zero tolerance approach to terror, would take such decision.

    Congress, Oren was indented to say, sees the move as nothing short of betrayal by Israel of the US, both in regards to the international war on terror and in regards to the struggle for hegemonic control raging between the West and the rising eastern powerhouse.

    The crux of Oren’s mission was to inform the Israel administration of the US’s intent on advancing legal procedures against the Bank of China; to inform them that if the security officials fail to show up in court they would be subpoenaed; and additional subpoenas would also be filed against Oren, Dermer and National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror.

    In addition to the suit filed by the Wultz family, the Bank of China also faces a lawsuit by Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of the Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center, representing 22 Israel families – the relatives of the victims of the suicide bombing in an Eilat bakery as well the Mercaz Harav shooting – that is being discussed instate courts throughout the US.

    According to Darshan-Leitner, these cases are also structured around the testimonies of security officials and could fail should the officials fail to testify.

    The Prime Minister’s Office did not respond to the story Sunday evening.

    link to ynetnews.com

    Further coverage…
    link to latimes.com
    >>>>>>>>>>

    • Ellen
      July 17, 2013, 9:26 am

      So much for Roy Blunt’s claim that “Israel is one of America’s greatest and most strategic allies …” Aside from the fact that is blathering letter of nonsense was written by AIPAC — or one of his staffers also working for AIPAC — this shows that Israel is anything BUT an ally in the so-called “fight against terror.”

      Nor does Israel have any real interest in coordinating security efforts.

      If their own Prime Minister sells out the security of his own people on the ability to convict hands involved in a horrific attack in TelAviv, do you think the Israeli government has any interest in really coordinating with the US.

      That Roy Blunt, Boxer bill has zip to do with strategic alliances beneficial to the good of the US.

  17. Citizen
    July 17, 2013, 8:52 am

    If Israel becomes the USA’s sole “major strategic partner” with all the privileges and enmeshment in USA’s core security and defense systems expressed and implied in subject proposed legislation, this will make Israel confident it can do much more with total impunity, indeed not even an outcry from the USA or West, than, e.g., its current undeclared war on prostrate Syria: link to informationclearinghouse.info

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