Jewish Journal

Israelis Likely to Keep Waiting in Long US Visa Lines in Sherman vs. Boxer

by Pini Herman

April 15, 2013 | 12:06 pm

Long Lines to Continue at Fortresses Israel and America

Los Angeles’ newly re-elected Congressman Brad Sherman's first bill introduced, House Resolution 300 or the Visa Waiver for Israel Act of 2013 is threatened on a new front in addition to earlier issues raised and answered in this blog by Congressman Sherman.

Sherman’s bill to enable Israelis to travel under a visa waiver program to the  to the U.S.is endangered by Senator Boxer’s inclusion in the Senate version of the S.462 U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act:

...Includes Israel in the visa waiver program when Israel satisfies such program's inclusion requirements and provides, subject to security concerns, reciprocal travel privileges for U.S. citizens.

That means, as explained by the JTA,  a requirement  that the Homeland Security secretary grant Israel visa waiver status after certifying with the secretary of state that Israel “has made every reasonable effort, without jeopardizing the security of the State of Israel, to ensure that reciprocal travel privileges are extended to all United States citizens.

As Ron Kampeas writes in the JTA:

A legislative effort led by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to enable Israelis to enter the United States without visas may be stymied by the government – Israel’s government.

The hitch is Israel’s inability or unwillingness to fully reciprocate, something required for visa-free travel to the United States. Israel, citing security concerns, insists on the right to refuse entry to some U.S. citizens.

AIPAC is pushing for an exemption for Israel from this rule. But congressional staffers say Israel is unlikely to get such an exemption, which U.S. lawmakers view as an attempt to bar Arab Americans from freely entering Israel.

“It’s stunning that you would give a green light to another country to violate the civil liberties of Americans traveling abroad,” said a staffer for one leading pro-Israel lawmaker in the U.S. House of Representatives.

So Brad Sherman is finding himself stymied by Israel, AIPAC and Boxer on his first attempt at introducing a bill aimed at making life easier for Israelis and Americans. By inadvertently including Israeli Arabs  and Arab Americans Arabs in the visa waiver benefits this has produced the blowback from the Israeli government, AIPAC and the more plugged-in Senator Barbara Boxer.

It would be a shame to lose the advantages of increased freedom of travel between the U.S. and Israel  to what some perceive as the necessities of Fortress Israel and Fortress America.

Pini Herman, PhD. specializes in demographics, big data and predictive analysis, has served as Asst. Research Professor at the University of Southern California Dept. of Geography,  Adjunct Lecturer at the USC School of Social Work,  Research Director at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles following Bruce Phillips, PhD. in that position and is a past President of the Movable Minyan a lay-lead independent congregation in the 3rd Street area. Currently he is a principal of Phillips and Herman Demographic Research. To email Pini: pini00003@gmail.com To follow Pini on Twitter:

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Bruce Phillips is Professor of Sociology and Jewish Communal Studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles. He has conducted Jewish population...

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