No To Israel Joining the Visa Waiver Program

Washington, D.C. | www.adc.org | August 27, 2021 – ​​​​The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is calling on President Joe Biden and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to reject Israel Envoy to the U.S. Gilad Erdan’s request for a U.S. Visa Waiver Program deal without explicit guarantees that Arab and Muslim Americans would be provided reciprocal travel privileges.

Following a meeting with Secretary Mayorkas, Erdan posted on August 16 on Facebook that he expects to see “significant progress” on a U.S. visa waiver deal. Additionally, during Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s visit to the White House on August 27, President Biden mentioned that he would discuss with the Prime Minister how to bring Israel into the program. The lack of transparency regarding this potential deal concerns ADC and could lead to a unique exemption for Israel.

If a deal is made without an explicit guarantee of equal treatment, Israel would become the only country participating in the Visa Waiver Program that would be allowed to discriminate against Americans due to their ethnicity or faith. None of the other 39 nations that participate in the program have been granted a similar exemption.

The Visa Waiver Program enables most citizens or nationals of participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. To join the Visa Waiver Program, the entering country must allow Americans to enter without a visa as well.

Israel routinely refuses to allow Americans of Arab ethnicity or Muslim backgrounds to enter their country or the occupied territories it controls. According to the U.S. State Department’s website, “some U.S. citizens of Arab or Muslim heritage (including Palestinian-Americans) have experienced significant difficulties and unequal and occasionally hostile treatment at Israel’s borders and checkpoints.” Additionally, “U.S. citizens have been denied entry to Israel and the West Bank for involvement in and/or expressing support on social media for the BDS movement.” Such a discriminatory practice falls well short of the intent of Visa Waiver Program participation and provides clear ground for rejection.

In 2013, ADC and other American Arab and Muslim rights organizations defeated an attempt in the U.S. Senate that would have permitted Israel to join the Visa Waiver Program while keeping its discriminatory and restrictive immigration policies.

Breaking: Israeli warplanes launch airstrikes on Gaza Strip

Days of Palestine – Gaza, Aug 21, 2021

Israeli occupation warplanes moments ago launched airstrikes on the Gaza Strip attacking several sites in the enclave. 

A Days of Palestine correspondent said that heavy explosions were heard in different areas of the Gaza Strip.

He reported that the Israeli military reconnaissance aircraft targeted the site of Areen, west of the central governorate of the Gaza Strip.

“It was followed by attacks with 3 missiles from the Israeli warplanes on the same site,” he confirmed. 

The Ministry of Health reported that the Israeli occupation shot and injured 23 Palestinians in the east of the Gaza Strip, including two in critical condition, one of them a 12-year-old child who took part in the peaceful protest memorializing the 52nd anniversary of the burning of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

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Israeli aircraft strike Hamas sites in Gaza as hostilities escalate

Cross-border gunfire earlier on Saturday seriously injured an Israeli soldier and wounded 41 Palestinians


Palestinian protesters evacuate an injured youth on a stretcher amid the clashes with Israeli security forces. Photograph: APAImages/Rex/Shutterstock

The Guardian, 21 Aug 2021

Israeli aircraft struck Hamas sites in Gaza late on Saturday, the military said, in an escalation of hostilities after earlier cross-border gunfire seriously injured an Israeli soldier and wounded 41 Palestinians, including two critically.

The injuries came during a Gaza protest organised by the enclave’s Islamist rulers, Hamas, and other factions in support of Jerusalem, where Palestinian clashes with Israeli police helped spark an 11-day Israel-Hamas conflict in May.

Hundreds of Palestinians gathered near the strip’s heavily fortified border, where some tried to scale the border fence and others threw explosives towards Israeli troops, the Israeli military said. “IDF (Israeli military) troops responded with riot dispersal means, including when necessary live fire,” it said in a statement.

Among the two Palestinians critically injured was a 13-year-old boy who was shot in the head, Gaza’s health ministry said. It described most of the other injuries as moderate, including gunshots to limbs, backs and abdomens.

Cross-border fire from Gaza seriously wounded an Israeli border police soldier, who is in hospital receiving medical treatment, the military said. There was no claim of responsibility for the Gaza gunfire.

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August 16, 2021
Webinar on Ben & Jerry’s recent decision

We’re delighted to invite you to a timely webinar on Monday, August 16th, at 4:00 pm ET.

How did an ice cream company come to dominate the global discourse on Israel-Palestine? On July 19th, beloved ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s announced that it would end sales of its ice cream in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The backlash from the Israeli government, from US elected officials and from right wing organizations was immediate and overwhelming, with calls for US governors to use anti-boycott laws to take legal action against Ben & Jerry’s for their decision.

Join Just Vision, Americans for Peace Now and Jewish Currents along with guests Ben Cohen (Founder, Ben & Jerry’s) and Anuradha Mittal (Board Chair, Ben & Jerry’s) in conversation with our Executive Director, Suhad Babaa; Jewish CurrentsEditor-at-Large, Peter Beinart; and President and CEO of Americans for Peace Now, Hadar Susskind, to discuss this recent decision by Ben and Jerry’s and its far-reaching implications.

To register for this event, please click here. We hope to see you there.

With resolve,
Emma Alpert
Deputy Director, Just Vision

Speaker bios:

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August 16, 2021
Webinar: From Bethlehem to Gaza with Laila El-Haddad and Vivien Sansour

Palestinian Culinary Resilience & Liberation!

Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA)

Laila El-Haddad and Vivien Sansour cook up a treat as they share stories of Palestinian liberation. Laila & Maggie Schmitt have just published the 3rd edition of Gaza Kitchen, available from Just World Books.

More information and registration

Said Odeh’s Legacy, Months after Israeli Forces Killed Him

Three months ago I wrote to you with the news that Israeli forces shot dead 16-year-old Said Yousef Mohammad Odeh in Odala, a village located near Nablus in the occupied West Bank.

Since then, my team spoke with Said’s family and friends to hear their reflections on his life and the impact of his brutal killing. I’d like to invite you to watch and share this four-minute video where Said’s mother, father, cousin, football teammate, and uncle—who was the paramedic that reached Said’s body after being blocked by Israeli soldiers—grieve the loss of Said.

These four minutes paint a picture of a tight-knit community in a small Palestinian village living under Israeli occupation. When Israeli soldiers kill a Palestinian child, it affects all of us. Please share this video on Facebook and Twitter to honor Said’s memory and call for accountability for his killing.

In solidarity,
Ayed Abu Eqtaish
Defense for Children International – Palestine