Action: Ask your Members of Congress to urge Israel to allow free movement and access for all people.
Background: Last week, MCC service worker Rachelle Friesen of Winnipeg, Man., Canada, was detained by Israeli authorities at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport. After more than 30 hours of detention, including three sessions of interrogation, Friesen was deported back to the origin of her flight in Barcelona, and is now banned from entering Israel for 10 years.
Friesen’s experience is unfortunately not an isolated incident. Last year American Jonathan Brenneman, a Mennonite whose mother is Palestinian, was denied entry to Israel. Jonathan Brenneman has worked with Christian Peacemaker Teams in the West Bank.
Because Israel so frequently denies entry to foreigners deemed “politically suspect,” particularly those of Arab or Muslim heritage, Israel is not included in the U.S. visa waiver program—a reciprocal program in which the two countries agree to allow one another’s citizens to enter without a visa. There are efforts in Congress to allow Israel to be part of this program.
Congress needs to hear that Israel should not be admitted into the visa waiver program until it stops discriminating against U.S. citizens and others working for human rights and justice. Members of Congress should also urge Israel to grant freedom of movement and access to Palestinians, who experience restrictions on a daily basis.
Faith reflection: “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people” (Isaiah 10:1-2a, NIV).
Action: Ask your Members of Congress to urge Israel to allow free movement and access for all people—Palestinians, as well as U.S. citizens and others working for international human rights, development and peacebuilding organizations.