A bill has been introduced in the
The purported intent of the bill, originally introduced by Sens.
However, S.B. 462 contains discriminatory provisions that allow Israel to bar entry to Americans of Arab heritage or Islamic faith, anyone who is viewed to be critical of the actions of the Israeli government, or even anyone who is supportive of Palestinian rights — this, while Israel would enjoy the full benefit of the program for its own people. Rather than requiring reciprocity, the bill, as drafted, requires only that Israel make "every reasonable effort" to ensure that reciprocal travel privileges are extended to all U.S. citizens. No other waiver program nations are granted similar exemptions.
Earlier this year, Nour Joudah, a 25-year-old Palestinian-American woman, was denied entry to Israel at
The issue of entry denial has been contentious for decades. Israel is widely recognized for especially discriminating against Arab-Americans and Muslims by preventing or making difficult their entry to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. When Americans of these two groups arrive in one of Israel's ports of entry, they are often put through intense interrogations and strip searches, and in many cases are denied entry without any explanation.
On Senator Cardin's website, he states: "Civil rights and civil liberties are the building blocks of the rule of law in our country." We couldn't agree more. Senator Cardin has a history of championing civil rights. So it is ironic, disturbing and deeply disappointing that — at the behest of a foreign nation — he would try to chip away at the basic rights of the citizens of his own country. We strongly urge Senator Cardin to either promptly introduce amendments that would strike out discriminatory clauses of the Boxer/Blount bill, or publicly rescind his support for this offensive legislation that is in such stark contrast to American values.
Zainab Choudry (firstname.lastname@example.org) is vice president of the Maryland chapter of the