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White House insists executive order isn’t a ‘Muslim ban’, but Jews and Christians seem welcomed

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White House spokesperson Sean Spicer had terse words for the press corps over the use of the term “ban” or “Muslim ban” to describe the executive order signed by President Donald Trump on Friday that temporarily suspended the entry of travelers and refugees coming from seven Muslim-majority nations.

Yet, seemingly some Christians and Jews from the same seven countries are or will be exempt from the executive order, according to a statement made by Trump and a travel memo posted to the website of the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv.

Spicer took umbrage over the journalists describing the policy in language both he and Trump had used to define the order as recently as the day before. “I think the president talked about extreme vetting and the need to keep America safe, and he made clear this is not a Muslim ban,” Spicer said Tuesday, a day after telling George Washington University students in a speech on Monday that it is a “ban.”


The aim of the executive order, as Trump promoted the idea during his campaign, was a not a “ban” but a “Muslim ban,” with the operative word being “Muslim.” And, seemingly this emphasis has been expressed in some way to other governmental departments. Note exhibit A, from the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv’s website, an alert posted on Tuesday stating that Israeli citizens traveling from countries on the blacklist are exempt from the executive order and can travel freely.

The full statement reads:

“Travelers with an existing valid visa in their Israeli passport may travel to the United States, even if they are also a national of or born in one of the seven restricted countries (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen). Embassy Tel Aviv will continue to process visa applications and issue visas to eligible visa applicants who apply with an Israeli passport, even if born in, or a dual national of, one of the seven restricted countries. Final authorization to enter the United States is always determined at the port of entry.”

Israel is home to thousands of Jews who immigrated from across of the Middle East, of whom many hold or once held passports issued from countries identified by the White House as currently banned for entry. As recently as 2016, 19 Yemenite Jews were flown to Israel for resettlement in a covert mission (they brought with them a religious scroll estimated to be 500 years old).

Moreover, on Friday (exhibit B) the president told the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody that it would be a “priority” to allow middle eastern Christians to enter the U.S., including those who hail from countries banned for travelers by the executive order.

“They’ve [Christians have] been horribly treated. Do you know if you were a Christian in Syria it was impossible, at least very tough to get into the United States? If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible and the reason that was so unfair, everybody was persecuted in all fairness, but they were chopping off the heads of everybody but more so the Christians. And I thought it was very, very unfair.”

However, at least one Syrian Christian family was deported from the U.S. over the weekend, after landing in Philadelphia with green cards in hand.

The Assali family returning to Damascus after they were detained by Customs and Border Protection agents on January 28, 2017 in Philadelphia International Airport. (Photo: GoFundMe)

Overnight Saturday, the White House said 109 were detained at airports, of whom some were U.S. citizens noted the American Civil Liberties Union after filing a stays of deportation that same night.

The executive order temporarily prohibits the entry of persons who hold valid visas to the U.S. for 90 days if they are from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, and 120 days for refugees. Although, the least bothered by the word “ban,” seems to be Trump who tweeted earlier Wednesday the labels were inconsequential.

Allison Deger
About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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3 Responses

  1. Peter in SF
    Peter in SF
    February 3, 2017, 5:27 am

    Note exhibit A, from the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv’s website, an alert posted on Tuesday stating that Israeli citizens traveling from countries on the blacklist are exempt from the executive order and can travel freely.

    The embassy statement does not say anything about anyone “traveling from countries on the blacklist”. It’s about Israeli passport holders who were “born in, or a dual national of, one of the seven restricted countries.”

    But more to the point, there is no special exception being made for Israelis. The website of the U.S. embassy in London says the same thing as the one in Tel Aviv:


    Exemption: Dual nationals with a valid passport issued by any country not restricted under the Executive Order may apply for visas. U.S. embassies and consulates will process visa applications and issue visas to otherwise eligible applicants who apply with a passport from an unrestricted country, even if they hold dual nationality from a restricted country. Those who qualify for visas will be permitted to travel to and apply for admission to the United States.

    • Boo
      Boo
      February 3, 2017, 9:42 am

      I’m so reassured to see the front door battened down like a bank vault because it distracts me from the fact that the back door is swinging open in the breeze.

  2. Elizabeth Block
    Elizabeth Block
    February 4, 2017, 4:45 pm

    Not to mention the terrorists already in the country. Dylann Roof didn’t need a visa.

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