By Geoffrey Cook, TMO
Mtn. View (Calif.)–Shortly after attending the First Annual (S.F.) Bay Area Muslim Legal Fund Dinner in Newark (Calif.) on May 17th, I received a letter from the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation concerning a proposed Bill, the United States-Israel Partnership Act (introduced by â€œmyâ€ [Sic!] Senator Barbara
Boxer) last March 5th, and was, then, referred to the Foreign Relations Committee from which it has been proceeding.
The United States-Israel Strategic partnership Act (S. 462) not only designates Israel as â€œa major strategic partner,â€ but Section Nine of the legislation proposes to include Israel in the Visa Waiver Program (you can enter the country without a visa) while requiring it to extend reciprocal privileges citizens and nationals of the United States, but the exemption would allow Israel to arbitrarily deny entrance to the United States to any of their citizens under the rubric of their national security, effectively importing Israelâ€™s laws into the U.S. immigration system.
Israelâ€™s policy has been to discriminate against Palestinian-, Arab-, and Muslim-American travelers by refusing them entrance into their lands of sacred sites and to separate some from their families and natal or ancestral homeland.
According to the U.S. State Department Travel Advisory for Israel, the West Bank and Gaza : â€œU.S. citizens are advised that all persons entering or departing…are subject to security screening and may be denied entry or exit without explanation… Those with extensive travel to Muslim countries or U.S. citizens whom Israeli authorities suspect of being of Arab, Middle Eastern, or Muslim origin may also face additional questioning by immigration and border authorities…â€
Since Barbara Boxer, who introduced 462, is my Senator, I wrote this (extract) from a letter: â€œâ€¦I served on an advisory committee for your 2011 re-electionâ€¦I find your proposed Bill to be highly sectarian and offensive. You are a progressive American Senator, and you should be supporting our President in striving for a negotiated settlement of the imbroglio in our Holy Land. Your disgusting Bill only discourages this goal!â€
I encourage all American Muslims and non-Muslim of good faith to express their displeasure at this proposal by writing to their Senators expressing your displeasure at the legislation, and hopefully to discourage it from emerging from Committee!