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Obama doesn’t respond to Nour Joudah’s letter

on 6 Comments

Yesterday in its coverage of the latest Congressional obeisance to Israel– Senator Barbara Boxer and colleagues’ effort to make Israel our one and only “major strategic partner” and exempt its citizens from visa requirements at our borders — the Associated Press highlighted the case of Nour Joudah, a young Palestinian-American whose job as a schoolteacher in Ramallah was destroyed when Israel twice refused her entry on arbitrary grounds.

I caught up with Joudah and asked her by email what she’s up to and whether she still wants to return to Palestine.

I am the Assistant Editor of the Journal of Palestine Studies

And yes, there is nowhere I would rather be than in Palestine, working with my students, living among amazing friends to whom I never got to say goodbye…

The Obama administration is said to be opposed to the congressional effort to elevate Israel’s status. The State Department has a couple of times addressed Joudah’s case in briefings. I asked Joudah if she’d gotten any response to her letter to the Obama administration decrying Israel’s discrimination against her as reminscent of Jim Crow. 

The White House has not responded in any way to me. I do not think the letter had any effect on the administration’s policies towards Israel. It has been made abundantly clear by their actions, that when Israel is concerned, what Israel wants is of higher priority than how its discriminatory practices affect American citizens. 

Has anyone on Capitol Hill asked you to testify about your experience?  

No one has asked me to do so, but I would testify to Congress if asked. 
Shame on them. In that AP story, Israeli ambassador Michael Oren said that Nour Joudah had plenty of rights when she was trying to get in, and could have exercised them:

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 Rep. Keith Ellison and Andre Carson, the two Muslim members of Congress, and the others who signed the original letter [to the Obama administration].

I asked Joudah about those rights, and her efforts to get back to her job in Palestine:
As far as any future trips, I am still taking legal action (something Ambassador Oren apparently felt the need to tell me I had an opportunity to do and did not try). My appeal is currently before the Ministry of Interior and awaiting a judge’s ruling. 
Her lawyer, Emily Schaeffer, gave me the latest on that legal case, and also mentioned Ambassador Oren’s advice: 

Nour’s legal proceedings are a bit complicated since there is a long history (which you covered well a couple months ago). Nour’s case is currently pending in the Ministry of Interior. In April it accepted our appeal of her denial of entry (and effective visa revocation) and allowed her a hearing, but only in writing and through affidavits, not in person. The proceeding is quasi-judicial; it is not actually in a court or with a judge. It is part of exhausting remedies before going before a court, which you may remember was an obstacle we faced when we tried to file an emergency petition to the Lod District Court while Nour was held in deportation proceedings in Ben Gurion airport: the judge said we hadn’t exhausted remedies by waiting for the results of our Ministry of Interior appeal (which was simply outrageous given the fact that Nour’s rights were slipping away while the Ministry of Interior took its sweet time, and there was no way to wait for them during the 7 hours we had until she would be put on a plane!).

Regarding Oren’s comment that legal remedies are available to Nour, that is frustrating, on two levels. 1, Nour is in fact using all the legal means available, and, again, when she even tried to use the emergency ones, the judge told her she hadn’t exhausted her other legal means, leaving her in a complete Catch 22! 2, What kind of right is it to be discriminated against and then forced to wait ridiculous periods of time and spend lots of money in order to actually have your rights upheld? In my opinion, part of why the Israeli authorities are able to perpetuate discrimination is because the procedures for challenging it are both logistically and financially prohibitive. This leaves their actions rarely subjected to judicial scrutiny, and the results are obvious.

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6 Responses

  1. Woody Tanaka
    Woody Tanaka
    July 16, 2013, 11:35 am

    “Obama doesn’t respond to Nour Joudah’s letter”

    Well, in fairness to Obama, he did ask his superiors at the AIPAC office and THEY were the ones who told him him not to answer. Don’t blame the frontman. He’s only following orders.

  2. Citizen
    July 16, 2013, 12:03 pm

    You can be sure the Columbia and Princeton graduate, Oren knows all about that Catch 22 employed by his state of Israel. I’ve never seen any evidence at all that the US government works for Americans dealing with Israel’s atrocious treatment of them. It’s always the reverse. Israel going to be elevated even more when this new legislation is passed in September. Americans will get kicked to the curb even more by Israel unless they genuflect to our unique highest super ally, an ally that does not give a crap about Americans, or America except as a tool and open wallet.

  3. Citizen
    July 16, 2013, 12:48 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]

    • ritzl
      July 16, 2013, 3:47 pm

      Thanks Citizen. I’m still amazed at the so-called liberals (like Sanchez) who would bristle at even the notion of codifying discrimination against their people, signing on to exactly that for other people. It boggles.

  4. stardust
    July 16, 2013, 1:19 pm

    Nour’s story reads like the bureaucratic nightmare depicted by Kafka and Orwell.
    Too bad there are too many brainwashed and powerful supporters of Israeli ‘democracy’ in the US government and media.

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