The Arab American Institute (AAI) has written to US Secretary of State Colin Powell urging the "State Department [to]…warn Arab Americans of travel in Israel with an updated Consular Information Sheet (CIS)." Drawing on the State Department’s recent response to the situation with China, AAI argued that "it is important that the State Department issue a public statement of opposition to these practices and make clear its intention to defend the rights of its own citizens." AAI also requested "that the same standards the State Department issued…in regards to Americans of Chinese origin be applied to Arab Americans as well."
The letter, cited by Washington-Today, raises Israel’s mistreatment of American citizens of Arab descent and their detention without charge. "A long standing and unresolved issue of concern has been the discrimination and mistreatment of Arab Americans traveling to…Israel. In many cases, these American citizens have been denied due process. Despite assurances that the State Department has discussed this issue with the government of Israel, the violations of rights of US citizens of Arab descent continues," AAI noted.
In many instances, Israel refuses to acknowledge the US citizenship of Arab Americans and forces them to obtain documentation from the Palestinian Authority, the activists said.
According to the Israeli law, a holder of a Palestinian ID cannot enter Israel with is US passport, risking a revoking of his residence permit.
According to Washington-Today, Arab Americans have for more than 20 years raised these concerns repeatedly with the State Department. At their first official meeting with Secretary Powell, the community raised this issue again and was encouraged by a follow-up meeting on the subject with Department officials on April 16.
"We have, so far, been encouraged by this Administration’s attitude toward the issue. It is frankly unacceptable that Americans are mistreated and denied their rights as US citizens simply because of their ethnic origin.
“In America, we do not have first, second and third class citizens. We are all equal. The State Department has a responsibility to publicly send that message to Israel, as it did with China, and to warn its own citizens of the dangers they face if they travel to Israel," AAI President James Zogby was quoted as saying.
AAI is a national organization committed to the civic and political empowerment of Americans of Arab descent – Albawaba.com
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