By Noel Ignatiev
“The United States-Israel Strategic partnership Act (S. 462) not only designates Israel ‘a major strategic partner,’ section nine of this legislation proposes to include Israel in the Visa Waiver Program while exempting it from the requirement to extend reciprocal privileges to all citizens and nationals of the United States. The exemption would allow Israel to arbitrarily deny entrance to U.S. citizens under the rubric of national security, effectively importing Israel’s apartheid laws into the U.S. immigration system.
“Israel has a history of discriminating against Palestinian-, Arab-, and Muslim-American travelers and denying them entry. According to the U.S. State Department Travel Advisory for Israel, the West Bank and Gaza : ‘U.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…’”
The above was taken from a letter sent out by the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation asking people to call on their Senators to speak out publicly and vote against this bill, which is apparently before Congress, and to send letters and op-ed pieces to their local newspapers.
Now, I am not in the habit of writing letters to my Senators (mainly because I do not wish to give the impression I care what they do, or legitimize a system I want no part of), and I have always regarded writing letters to the editor to be the ultimate confession of impotence. Moreover, I am not interested in defending my “rights” as a U.S. citizen, because I reject “the U.S.” “citizen” and “rights” as motivating categories, preferring to take my stand on the basis of my membership in the human race and my obligation to do right by it. Having made all these qualifications, I am not averse to drawing a lesson from history: This measure reminds me of the insistence of pre-Civil War southern officials on controlling mail delivered to southern states lest abolitionist propaganda make its way into hands where it might have some effect. That was one of a train of abuses, including the “Gag Rule,” the Mexican War, the Fugitive Slave Act and others, that made it clear that the slave system enslaved not only those forced to labor in the fields without wages but compelled all “citizens” to sacrifice what they naively thought of as their “rights.” The Civil War broke out because the people of the northern states could not accept the domination of the southern system over the entire country. This latest measure may well awaken some to the realization of what support for Israel costs them, and to the realization that so long as Zionism prevails we are all Palestinians.