ADC Urges US to Ensure Arab Americans and Muslims are Allowed to Enter Israel
Washington, DC — The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) today expressed concerns that Israel was refusing to allow entry to Arab Americans and American Muslims on the grounds of their ethnicity and/or religious affiliation. ADC called on the Bush Administration to ensure that all Americans are treated fairly by Israeli authorities and the Arab Americans and American Muslims not be denied access to Israel and the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel on the basis of their ethnicity or religion.
ADC’s concerns were promoted by reports that a group of 20 American Muslims were barred from Israel on Sunday, June 16. The “Peace Through Understanding” delegation, organized by American Muslims for Jerusalem, went to the Middle East on a fact-finding tour to meet with Israeli and Palestinian peace activists. Delegation members report that they were detained for eight hours at Ben Gurion airport before being denied entry because of “security concerns.” The Associated Press quotes one of the delegates as saying that she believes her group was expelled because it was made up primarily of American Muslims.
ADC is aware of numerous instances in which Israeli authorities have refused to recognize the American citizenship of Arab Americans in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. The State Department has issued a travel advisory which notes that “The Allenby Bridge crossing from the West Bank into Jordan, and the Rafah crossing from Gaza into Egypt are under the jurisdiction of the Israeli Government, which also controls entry and exit via the Gaza International Airport. This may have special ramifications for Palestinian Americans and other Arab Americans.”
ADC President Ziad Asali said “we call upon the United States government to provide equal protection to all of its citizens abroad, regardless of their ethnicity and regardless of which state’s authority they are under. In the past, ADC staff have also been prevented from entering Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories by the Israeli authorities. We urge the State Department to do everything in its power to ensure that Americans are not subjected to ethnic or religious discrimination by Israel.”