Become a digitalPLUS subscriber. 99¢ for 4 weeks.
NewsOpinionReaders Respond

Partnership bill is good for U.S. and Israel

IsraelInterior PolicyPersonal Data CollectionBenjamin L. Cardin

It is unfortunate that the authors of the recent commentary, "Don't let Israel discriminate," (April 30), distort the purpose and the effect of the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act. This bill merely states that the State of Israel is designated as a country that is eligible for the Visa Waiver Program.

This Visa Waiver Program waives the necessity of obtaining a visa for certain foreign visitors that meet certain requirements. These requirements include that the country of origin is friendly to the U.S., that it has in place high-levels of security so that adequate information on the visiting persons helps assure that they are not threats, that the visitors enter the U.S. for a limited time and for valid business purposes and that the visitors have plans to return to their country of origin. The purpose of the program is to make it easier for Israeli business people to enter the U.S. and for U.S. business people to enter Israel. As a trusted ally with some of the most strident security in the world, Israel clearly would qualify.

Each year, nearly 325,000 Israelis visit the United States. Likewise, thousands of Americans of all ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds travel to Israel every year for business, tourism and cultural reasons. Israel's participation in the Visa Waiver Program would expand those ties and make it easier for all Americans to travel to Israel.

The claim that S. 462 "would allow … Israel to discriminate against select groups of American citizens" is just simply wrong. Just like every other sovereign nation, Israel — and the U.S. — are properly permitted the right to deny an individual entry on legitimate security grounds.

Moreover, the authors state that the bill "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." That is, once again, completely untrue. And the assertion that "no other waiver program nations are granted similar exemptions" is just patently false.

Let's stick to what is really in this bill and not create problems that do not exist. It is tragic that some people would rather pervert this measure than laud this tool to promote economic growth. The U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act is meant to help Americans and American businesses to facilitate their travel and keep our homeland safe. If the Unites States can't certify that Israel is making every reasonable effort to protect all American travelers from discrimination, then, under the law, Israel will not be able to continue to participate in the program.

We should applaud the good intentions of U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin and the other sponsors and we should appreciate the positive effect that this legislation promises to have on economic development and the U.S. economy.

Abba Poliakoff, Baltimore

The writer is chairman of the Maryland/Israel Development Center.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
IsraelInterior PolicyPersonal Data CollectionBenjamin L. Cardin
  • Why African-Americans don't support Israel
    Why African-Americans don't support Israel

    Unfortunately, many African Americans as well as the general population do not support Israel because of a lack of knowledge about the origins and the history of the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors ("Why aren't more African Americans supporting Israel?" Oct. 20).

  • Tragedy in Jerusalem
    Tragedy in Jerusalem

    There can be no excuse, no explanation, no reasoned or even plausible justification for the horrific attack on a Jerusalem synagogue Tuesday that left four rabbis and an Israeli police officer dead. The assailants, two Palestinian militants armed with axes, meat cleavers and a gun who entered...

  • Why isn't Israel joining the fight against ISIS?
    Why isn't Israel joining the fight against ISIS?

    President Barack Obama's ISIS war plan includes seeking support from Arab nations and others in the battle in Iraq and Syria, but why is Israel sitting the war out when both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and our government have proclaimed Israel to be our staunchest ally? Is it too much for...

  • Act of terrorism ignored
    Act of terrorism ignored

    It is deplorable that The Sun, which was so out front depicting the casualties and damage this summer in Gaza during the war started by Hamas, decided to bury news of the murder of a Jewish baby (and American citizen) by a Palestinian terrorist in Jerusalem at the bottom of Page 8 ("Baby killed...

  • Israel has acted responsibly against Hamas [Letter]
    Israel has acted responsibly against Hamas [Letter]

    The recent letter writer critical of Israeli actions in Gaza ("Israel committed war crimes during its invasion of Gaza," Oct. 1) conveniently forgets the origins of the Gaza conflict and the effort that Israel made to reduce civilian casualties. Hamas for the last eight years has been firing...

  • GOP Senate would support Israel
    GOP Senate would support Israel

    The hostile comments from the Obama administration toward Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu show a terrible glimpse of what two more years of a Democratic-run U.S. Senate would be like ("Netanyahu fumes at U.S. official's reported profane insult," Oct. 30). The stakes could not be...

Comments
Loading