Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Yes, There Is A Security Risk

Yousef Munayyer, Open Zion regular, and executive director of the Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development, a Palestinian advocacy group in Washington, gets to enjoy the freedom of the press of the New York Times and published a op-ed, A Lopsided U.S. Visa-Waiver, and its main point is:

...Israelis can enter the United States without a visa.

Israel has long sought this prized designation but has always faced resistance from the State Department because the program requires reciprocity. Israel has been known to routinely deny entry to American citizens, often Arabs or Muslims or others sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, under the usually bogus pretext of “security concerns.”

This discriminatory treatment of U.S. citizens prompted several members of Congress to write to Israel’s ambassador expressing concern that Israeli border officials were “disproportionately singling out, detaining and denying entry to Arab and Muslim Americans,” and requesting all Americans be “treated equally at Israeli ports of entry.”

Oh, you mean there isn't a security concern?

Who killed Robert F. Kennedy?

And he gets personal:. 

I am routinely held up for questioning and inspection while watching Jewish Israelis zip by [at Ben-Gurion airport].

And makes a demand:

As an American citizen, I’m outraged that Senator Boxer and her colleagues are trying to pass a law that allows Israel to discriminate against U.S. citizens...American citizens will continue to get turned away by Israel because of their ethnic background while the United States opens its doors to all Israelis. This unequal treatment should not be permitted. Under no circumstances should the United States extend visa-waiver privileges to Israel, or any other state, unless it is willing to guarantee and demand equal treatment of its citizens and their protection from discrimination based on religion, ethnicity or national origin.

It is not a quite a matter of 'Palestinian' ethnicity but of the violence that Arabs practice against Jews as a matter of a rejection or opposition to out ethnicity.  And that violence makes them a risk that requires extra measures.



Anonymous said...

I think Mr, Munnayer is being just a wee bit disingenuous. The Act has lots of stuff in it besides the visa provisions - but the latter made these his basis for claiming the act would "seriously devalue" American citizenship? Seriously? That's remarkably strong language - so I was a tad suspect of what he had to say, from the get-go. The mention of AIPAC (the, you know - nefarious "pro-Israel lobbying group") gave me further pause. And when he finally puts his cards on the table - he convinces me that he needs much. much better evidence if he is going to prove his point:

Munnayer is talking about the Jewish/ non-Jewish divide. Basically, Munnayer wields choice anecdotal evidence as a club to attack all Israeli security measures (which he summarily dismisses as a "usually bogus pretext" for causing Arabs and Muslims all manner of inconvenience and allowing "Jewish Israelis" to "zip by",) while choosing to ignore every instance where U.S. border officials are downright nasty and every interaction where Israelis - or more specifically, Jewish Israelis - behave well...

Anonymous said...

Munnayer's points should not be summarily dismissed, despite his animus. Sometimes Israeli security personnel do stupid things - sometimes really stupid things. (Yes, even the Jewish ones.) Security training should be combined with other types of training to minimize insult whenever possible. Indeed, security measures are a pain -both to implement and to endure -- especially when compounded by rude teenagers and twenty-somethings who are tasked with the monumental responsibility of keeping terrorists out and citizens safe. But here's the plain problematic truth that Munnayer ignores. Profiling works. -And it minimizes the very aggravation that Munnayer counts as supreme affront to American citizenship. But is convenience and civility truly the essence of U.S. citizenship? If that is so, then the TSA has devalued the U.S. citizenship of far more air travelers than the Israelis ever have, or ever will.

Of course, Mr, Munayyer would object to this characterization of his argument. He is, after all, arguing about freedom and discrimination. But Munnayer's argument, as stated, demands the jettison of all nuance. Just as freedom of speech (a cherished right, to be sure) is legitimately bounded by all sorts of other considerations (e.g. public safety,) discrimination is Constitutionally permitted in cases where it has a rational basis and where there exists a compelling state interest for it.

Now, the U.S. maintains reciprocity in various arenas with other countries that don't always comply foursquare with all the niceties of U.S. Constitutional law - but this really isn't Mr. Munnayer's point, is it? Munnayer seems bent on making U.S. citizenship a shield to those who might well harbor terrorist intentions - roughly similar to the protection that diplomatic immunity affords unsavory characters who would otherwise deserve criminal prosecution in their host country --and that just won't fly in an age where terrorism is now also defended as "human right". (Indeed, international law recognizes that even diplomatic immunity also has its limits - because it remains within the discretion of the host country to declare any member of the diplomatic staff of a mission persona non grata (or unwanted person).

As an Israeli citizen, Mr. Munnayer should actually thank his lucky stars that Israeli security will profiling the person that he sits next to on his return trip to Israel. If Mr. Munnayer truly believes that one's political opinions, religion and ethnicity are all totally irrelevant to whether an individual presents a security threat - and that the U.S. Constitution mandates this presumption, then frequent flyers should either be either scared to death, or fully prepared to wait in grateful silence for untold hours before boarding any U.S. airplane - or those of any country not requiring a visa to enter the U.S. as security pats down a grandmother from Wisconsin with the very same thoroughness accorded a 20-year-old Palestinian wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with "F__k Israel, Allahu Akhbar".

Anonymous said...

What a ridiculous article. First of all, he is totally wrong about just "breezing through" US immigration. I find they take much longer to process people than they do in Israel. The WSJ last year had an article noting that immigration waiting times is close to 70min. in some airports. I've never seen an Arab family held up at immigration re-entering the country at least in the Israeli citizen line. In terms of the foreign passports line: he provides no figures such as the average waiting time, how many people are pulled out of the line for extra scrutiny each year, how many people are denied entry versus those who can enter, what are the nationalities, etc… Are we talking about 5 people a year? 100? 1000?

And is he complaining about security screening or immigration? He mixes up the two issues.

But to his false claim that the Jews just "whiz by" while the non-Jews get harassed:

Women traveling alone are also subject to extra scrutiny whether Jewish or not -- justified given the history. Whenever I travel by myself, I often get stopped by security and have extra searches done on my bag. Once, while flying back from Amsterdam, I was in line in the middle of a conversation w/an MFA official who I am pretty friendly with when security pulled me aside and searched my bags. So this guy just needs to get over himself.

And this part is also bs

Israel has been known to routinely deny entry to American citizens, often Arabs or Muslims or others sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, under the usually bogus pretext of “security concerns.”

Are these people being denied entry b/c of being American? Of course not. Is it "routine"? Who knows? Many of those people come to work for the ISM or engage in disruptive activities and try to enter under false pretenses. There are several NGO docs floating around telling activists coming to the region to lie to Israeli security about their purpose for being in the country and several people have discussed on social media and blogs that they have indeed lied. And again, we have no idea how many people have been "denied entry". Anyway, besides the terrorism issue, I liken it to regulations in Europe on soccer hooliganism. Many people are banned from entering European countries b/c it is clear they are trying to make trouble.

In any event, without actual stats to evaluate the merit of his claims, it is yet another article in the NYT aimed at portraying Israel as some racist police state.