In order for the US to permit citizens of a foreign country to enter the US without a visa, that country must agree to certain conditions. Chief among them is reciprocity: that country must allow Americans to enter without a visa as well. There are 37 countries which have been permitted entrance into America’s “visa waiver” program, and all of them - all 37 - reciprocate by allowing American citizens to enter their country without a visa.
The American-Israeli Political Action Committee (Aipac) is now pushing legislation that would allow Israel to enter this program, so that Israelis can enter the US without a visa. But as JTA’s Ron Kampeas reports, there is one serious impediment: Israel has a practice of routinely refusing to allow Americans of Arab ethnicity or Muslim backgrounds to enter their country or the occupied territories it controls; it also bars those who are critical of Israeli actions or supportive of Palestinian rights. Israel refuses to relinquish this discriminatory practice of exclusion toward Americans, even as it seeks to enter the US’s visa-free program for the benefit of Israeli citizens.
As a result, at the behest of Aipac, Democrat Barbara Boxer, joined by Republican Roy Blunt, has introduced a bill that would provide for Israel’s membership in the program while vesting it with a right that no other country in this program has: namely, the right to exclude selected Americans from this visa-free right of entrance. In other words, the bill sponsored by these American senators would exempt Israel from a requirement that applies to every other nation on the planet, for no reason other than to allow the Israeli government to engage in racial, ethnic and religious discrimination against US citizens. As Lara Friedman explained when the Senate bill was first introduced, it “takes the extraordinary step of seeking to change the current US law to create a special and unique exception for Israel in US immigration law.” In sum, it is as pure and blatant an example of prioritizing the interests of the Israeli government over the rights of US citizens as one can imagine, and it’s being pushed by Aipac and a cast of bipartisan senators.
I asked on Twitter and Facebook, but no one wanted to walk in to the field offices of our U.S. Senators downtown with me. The only hassle to meet would have been parking because the field offices are across the street from each other.
It seems that U.S. Senators have a concern about crazy, violent people dropping in on them. Both offices have intercom systems with cameras on the the frames of their front doors. After one is let in, one enters the reception where a woman greets you through a glass partition, a bit like when one goes to a theater box office…not very welcoming for a constituent, but who walks in to a federal officers unannounced as I did full of happiness and light? I didn’t, but I wasn’t violent and I was restrained…go figure. No, I was not invited past the next door to speak to someone without a piece of glass between us.
In both cases, my pitch was mostly like this:
- I’m here to talk to you about the Senator’s vote on NDAA
- Sections 1021 and 1022 violate my civil rights; they violate:
- I’ve been told that one should be polite discussing issues with congressional aides, but there is no polite way to truly describe how obscene I find the way the senator voted.
In both offices, I was told that Senator Feinstein has proposed legislation to clean this mess up. Considering the source, it’s a flip of the coin that it will really make a difference - I said as much to the woman who I spoke with in Sen. Feinstein’s office. I can’t say that I expected much from my protest of one at the offices, but I followed through and did what I said I would do. It’s that last point that motivated me to follow through.
One of my senators was mentioned in an article on a topic that I had contacted her about a couple days ago. No mention of the name of the bill, nor, at the very least, the number of the bill.
commented about railed against SB 510, Senator Dianne Feinstein replied by e-mail about a different bill, Senator Barbara Boxer replied to me about a third bill (mind you now, we still don’t know which bill is discussed in the A.P. story that Boston.com published). I’m getting used to being snowed by my federal representatives, I’ve blogged about it before. It’s the press that I have an issue with this time.
Why don’t professional journalists mention the titles and numbers of bills when they report on legislation?
It would be fulfilling that nebulous public interest if I got some lead time on legislation coming up for important votes so I can call them up and
tell them their business give input on pending legislation, but can’t I just get the minimum information? Is it so much to add the bill name and number to reporting?