Creating new perspectives since 2009

New setback for Israel lobby after visa waiver bill for Israelis fails

February 3, 2014 at 10:24 am

The Israel lobby in the US suffered a great setback when Congress went on winter break without approving a new bill that would allow Israelis to enter the US without a visa.

According to the existing Visa Waiver Programme, citizens from 37 countries around the world who meet certain conditions are able to enter the US without a visa for stays of 90 days or less. In return, these countries allow the same privilege to American citizens.

However, a new bill formulated by the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the most influential group in the Israel Lobby, proposes allowing Israelis to enter the US without a visa while exempting Israel from reciprocity. Furthermore, it would also formally sanction Israel’s ability to prevent any individual who they deem a “security threat” from entering Israel.

The Israeli authorities regularly prohibit Arab and Muslim Americans from entering the country, as well as foreign activists supporting the Palestinian cause.

The bill, ironically called the “US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act”, was sponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA), but Congress failed to vote on it.

Meanwhile, scholars who are members of the American Studies Association voted to endorse the Palestinian call to boycott Israeli academic institutions.