Israeli Power Manifest in the US Visa Waiver Program

Biden bows to Israeli pressure and discrimination against Palestinian-Americans will continue

When I began this article early in the morning last Tuesday it must have been “let’s talk about antisemitism and holocaust denial day” on the internet. On my Yahoo home page headlines display there were glaring back at me featured pieces condemning Greg Gutfeld of Fox News and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for comments made by the two men that were interpreted to be antisemitic. Kennedy, who made the mistake of suggesting that the COVID virus appeared to be made in a lab to be genetic specific, sparing inter alia Jews and Chinese ethnics who might be resistant to it, seems to be on a never ending apology tour as he has done everything but crawl on his belly as he asserts his great love for the Jewish state, and I would not doubt that the belly crawl might be coming up.

Poor Gutfeld was hammered twice, once for the “dangerous holocaust” comment that he reportedly made suggesting that some Jews survived the experience by developing useful skills in the camps, and once for the distinction of being personally rebuked by the White House. Andrew Bates, deputy White House press secretary issued a statement saying “What Fox News allowed to be said on their air yesterday — and has so far failed to condemn — is an obscenity. In defending a horrid, dangerous, extreme lie that insults the memory of the millions of Americans who suffered from the evil of enslavement, a Fox News host told another horrid, dangerous and extreme lie that insults the memory of the millions of people who suffered from the evils of the Holocaust.”

As I settled in for my cup of coffee, I wondered what we might be hearing later in the day about Gutfeld from the hideous Jonathan Greenblatt of the reliably rabid Anti-Defamation League (ADL), who has already weighed in on Kennedy’s sins. And even as I was wondering, the ADL response popped up: “It is not clear from Gutfeld’s comments if he is arguing that Jews learned skills in the Holocaust, or that Jews who had skills had a better chance of staying alive. The latter is something that is well-documented, while the former is nonsense. That said, many millions of Jews, who, in Gutfeld’s words, had ‘utility,’ were still murdered.”

The piling on then began, with an unverifiable report that even Fox News staffers, speaking anonymously, described Gutfeld’s remarks as “disgusting,” saying “at any other place, his career would be over.” The Auschwitz Memorial and Museum also got into the fray with “We must not overlook the larger picture of the Holocaust. Nazi Germany’s ultimate goal was to exterminate all the people it considered Jews.”

And to ice the cake, an article that I had not seen about the Democrats who chose to boycott the recent Joint Session of Congress speech by Israeli President Isaac Herzog also appeared, stating that “Such behavior is virulently anti-Israel and absolutely reprehensible. Each of these folks is a shame to the United States of America. And to the Democratic Party.”

That all of the responses fit in comfortably with the Israeli and Zionist group standard holocaust narrative of perpetual Jewish suffering, together with the inflated victim count which does not stand serious scrutiny, should surprise no one and after I finished perusing the articles the first thought that came to mind was “Wow, if you needed any proof of the power of Jews in this country and their persistence in punishing critics, this is it!” But that was before I read an article that went well beyond the usual propaganda stream, one describing how Israel is apparently about to be approved for probationary access to the US Visa Waiver program, which will allow Israelis to travel freely to the United States. According to the article, Washington and Jerusalem have signed a “memorandum of understanding” as a first step to full waiver status which presumably will be granted after a trial period ending on September 30th.

There are currently 40 nations admitted to the program, mostly from Europe, enabling their passport holders to enter the US freely without a visa and allowing them to stay for up to 90 days. Israel and its friends in the US have been agitating for years to have Israel accepted into the program, which would likely lead to more free spending American tourists and more corporate investment in the Jewish state, but there has been a major hurdle that Israel has been unwilling to address seriously and that is the issue of “reciprocity.” That means in practice that if anyone carrying an Israeli passport is free to enter the United States anyone carrying an American passport must be free to travel to Israel and enter the country. And lest there be any misunderstanding, US law requires full reciprocity to US citizens seeking entry – without regard to race, religion, or national origin. This means that if an American Jew and a Palestinian-American both holding US passports arrive at an Israeli port of entry they must be treated exactly the same when processing through customs and immigration.

Israel, however, has historically not quite seen it quite that way and reserves the right to block entry by Americans, an option particularly exercised against Americans of Palestinian origin, and other Americans like myself who come up on their data bases as being critical of the Jewish state. Palestinian-American Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib has even been denied entry in a recent attempt to travel to visit her grandmother. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who has been a critic of Israeli’s oppression of the Palestinians, has also been barred from entering the country.

There are other issues, including the fact that Israelis are way overrepresented in current visa fraud when they travel to the United States, often overstaying the time limit on their entry permission and working while in the country. Israelis in the country illegally and working were among the art students, Dead Sea cosmetics peddlers and the “Dancing Shlomos” movers who figured in the 9/11 saga, some of whom were known to be intelligence officers spying on American Muslims. Intelligence and law enforcement sources suggest that an open door to Israeli passport holders will lead to the entry of a new wave of Mossad officers who will be working against US Palestinian and Arab groups as well as against critics of Israel.

Israel is seeking approval to enter the program and is claiming that it has now initiated a trial period that will merge into a two-year pilot program that will ease the entry process and eliminate the many complaints about the harassment of Palestinian Americans and others. US citizens of Palestinian descent have frequently reported being harassed, detained, and denied entry by Israeli officials. Arab-Americans have told of being “strip-searched, questioned for hours about family and property histories, and even forced to give access to their social media accounts.” The US Embassy for its part only very rarely submits toothless complaints to the Israeli authorities about the treatment.

Because of that history, there is, inevitably, considerable skepticism about Israeli intentions. To cite only one example, Palestinian-Americans still cannot travel to the West Bank through Ben-Gurion Airport located near Tel Aviv, and are instead forced to fly into Amman, Jordan, before traveling overland to the West Bank. Furthermore, throughout the MOU, the US grants to Israel the freedom to deny any and all visitors entry for undefined security concerns – a variation on the “Israel has a right to defend itself” slogan and in itself a violation of the statuary requirements that established the Visa Waiver program. And even personal relationships are subject to scrutiny after one succeeds in entering the occupied territories. Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) requires any foreign national to “report the start of a romantic relationship with any Palestinian ID holder within 30 days.”

There is particular concern that Israel will behave during the trial period and once it obtains waiver status it will return to its old ways of denying Palestinian Americans entry. One Palestinian critic observes how the problem is institutional: “What we are seeing is representative of how Israel applies its apartheid laws to Palestinians everywhere, both in the occupied territory and abroad. Israel targets Palestinians simply for being Palestinians.” Even under the proposed pilot program, for example, Palestinian Americans will be able to apply for a 90-day travel pass to enter Israel but the restrictions on visiting the West Bank remain in place only for them and not for Jews visiting the illegal settlements. They are also blocked from visiting Gaza even if they have family there. The Palestinians will still need to apply to the Israeli government official for additional internal travel permits, which can easily be denied.

There is widespread belief that the so-called pilot program is a back door way for the Joe Biden Administration to bring Israel into the Visa Waiver Program without requiring it to end its systematic discrimination and abuse directed against Palestinian-Americans. It demonstrates yet again that the rule of US-Israel relations is what it always has been – zero accountability for Israel. And, together with the recent decision to permit a visit to the White House and Congress by major human rights violator Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu it is just one more indication of who holds the reins of power in Washington.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen regards the new arrangement as a done deal, boasting how “After we finish all the necessary legislative procedures, I estimate that Israeli citizens will be able to visit the US without the need for a visa by the end of the year.” That freedom is, however, the fruit of a shameful move by the Biden Administration as it is conceding to the Israelis the right to continue to apply a race card to some American passport holders. It seems that whenever there is a conflict over issues vexing Washington and Tel Aviv it is the Jewish state that always emerges as the winner.

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