Jewish Journal

The US Should Not Grant Visas To Israeli Citizens Unless Israel Grants the Privilege to US Citizens

by Rabbi John Rosove

April 30, 2013 | 7:39 am

Senator Barbara Boxer has introduced a bill co-sponsored by 18 Democrats and Republicans that would enable Israel to join a group 37 other favored nations whose citizens need not carry visas to enter the United States.

Now, any Israeli who wants to travel to the US needs to purchase round-trip plane tickets before being issued a travel visa.

What is the problem? Why do Israelis not have this right already? After all, they are among America’s closest allies in the world?

The answer is – Israelis should, except for one problem. Israel does not grant the same courtesy to all American citizens who enter Israel. Israel, in fact, restricts the travel of Palestinian-American citizens.

The article below explains more fully the presumed rationale for this restriction as well as the human consequences of Israel’s policy. Though security is always an uppermost Israeli concern, should not all American citizens be treated equally by Israel?

I agree with the view that the United States should not be able to grant Israeli citizens visa-free travel to the US yet exempt Israel from extending that same courtesy to all US citizens. If an individual of any nation seeks entry to Israel and is a specific security risk, Israel (as any other country) should have the right to refuse him/her on concrete security grounds. But to target any individual because he or she is part of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group is contrary both to American principles and Israeli principles as spelled out in the American Constitution and Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

Senator Boxer’s bill should require equivalent rights to American citizens traveling in Israel, regardless of their ethnic, racial, religious, or national ancestry.


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Rabbi John L. Rosove assumed his duties as Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel of Hollywood in November 1988. A native of Los Angeles, he earned a BA in Art History from UC Berkeley...

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