Sunday, April 20, 2014

America, don't do us any favors

Dan Margalit

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is acting like Santa Claus on Christmas and handing out presents to Israel. If not Jonathan Pollard -- then perhaps a visa waiver for Israelis seeking to travel in the U.S. for up to three months. No, thank you. Even though Israel would be wise to show a more flexible position in the current negotiations with the Palestinians, who are the primary peace rejectionists, there is no need to compensate Israel with visa-less trips to Disneyland.
The proposal resulted in an embarrassing response. In two Congressional committees, an outrageous sentiment was voiced whereby Israelis are not getting visa exemptions because of concerns over increased espionage activities on U.S. soil. This is vulgar -- since the Pollard affair 29 years ago, Israel minimized and rolled back such endeavors to a veritable halt. The ones spying on friends are the Americans, as we learned from Edward Snowden. This is quite the empty argument.

American immigration authorities also justify their policies by claiming reciprocity for stringent Israeli checks on American citizens of Arab ethnicity seeking to enter Israel. Everyone knows Israel has no interest in discriminating against anyone. Only recently, passage conditions for Jews and Arabs were equalized at Ben-Gurion International Airport. But protecting life is above all else, and what can we do -- there are more Arabs who emigrated to the West and are involved in terrorism against Israel than Hungarians or Ugandans. This doesn't stem from discrimination, rather from legitimate self-defense.
Israel pays many times over for the malicious propaganda spewed against it for wanting to prevent murderous attacks on its civilians. If requiring a visa to enter the U.S. is one of these prices, then so be it. This is to the shame of America, not Israel.
Basically, this is a discussion over an egg that has not hatched and is not worth spending too much time on. The most correct thing is for Washington to stop peddling visa exemptions as if they were candy, and to stop acting like we are trying to make things difficult. There is rule of law in the United States, and it is appropriate to treat Israel like any other friendly nation of its caliber.

America, you deserve to hear this: Please don't do us any favors.

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