Trump limits refugee admissions at all-time low

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A man displays a welcome sign near arriving travellers on the first day of the partial reinstatement of the Trump travel ban in Los Angeles on June 29, 2017. (photo: David McNew / Getty Images)

45,000 is lowest number since the caps were put in place in 1980. The previous low was 67,000 requested by Ronald Reagan in 1986.

By Oliver Laughland / The Guardian / Sep 27, 2017


“The U.S. refugee program was created in the aftermath of World War II. At that time, we rightly rejected antisemitic ideology and embraced our role as a beacon of hope and freedom for those in need. Since that time, US refugee protection has never been a partisan issue, nor a political one. Presidents from both parties have long recognized that the U.S. refugee admissions program is essential to global stability and our reputation as a leader on the world stage.”
— U.S. Representatives John Conyers and Zoe Lofgren


Donald Trump intends to cap America’s annual refugee admissions at a historic low, marking the administration’s latest crackdown on immigrants from some of the world’s most vulnerable groups.

A U.S. state department report seen by the Guardian shows that the administration has briefed Congress it will admit just 45,000 refugees in 2018, the lowest number requested by any president in over three decades and less than half the 110,000 cap issued in the last year of the Obama administration.

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Why Rabbis Like Me Oppose Israel’s Ban on BDS Activists

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Rabbi Alissa Shira Wise, Deputy Director of Jewish Voice for Peace, and three other peace activists, were prevented from boarding a flight to Tel Aviv on July 24, 2017.

Over 200 rabbis publicly oppose Israel’s ban on BDS activists.

By Laurie Zimmerman / Cleveland Jewish News
August 29, 2017


For me, the issue is not about Rabbi Wise herself, nor is it about the BDS movement. While the image of a rabbi being prevented from boarding an airplane to Israel is disturbing, and the Jewish community’s hysteria about the BDS movement is frustrating, the incident reflects something even more distressing: the suppression of dissent in our community.

For a community that prides itself on a tradition that honors varied and opposing ideas and upholds a strong commitment to debate, I am disgusted by its refusal to tolerate divergent voices.


In March, the Israeli Knesset passed a law that denies entry to foreigners who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS.

At the time, the law felt so insidious because it introduced a political litmus test designed to exclude those who object to Israel’s policies. It served to stifle legitimate political debate. But it was all so theoretical.

Until last month, that is, when Rabbi Alissa Shira Wise, who was part of an interfaith delegation that had planned to meet with Israeli and Palestinian peace activists, was banned at Washington’s Dulles Airport. I was stunned.

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Interfaith Leaders Denied Entry into Israel for Supporting BDS

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Five leaders on an interfaith delegation to Israel/Palestine were refused permission to board their plane in the United States, in what appears to be an implementation of Israel’s travel ban on supporters of Palestinian rights and Boycott, Divestment Sanctions (BDS).

By Naomi Dann / Jewish Voice for Peace
July 24, 2017

Five members of an interfaith delegation were prevented from boarding their flight to Israel because of their public criticism of the Israeli government’s policies towards Palestinians. The group of Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders were apparently singled out for their public support of the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) on the state of Israel. Upon arrival at the Lufthansa check-in counter at Dulles International Airport, an airline employee informed the group that the Israeli government had told the airline not to let them board.

The five people prohibited from flying are Rabbi Alissa Wise, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) deputy director, Philadelphia, PA; Alana Krivo-Kaufman, Brooklyn, NY and Noah Habeeb, Virginia, both also of JVP; Rick Ufford Chase, of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, Rockland County, NY; and Shakeel Syed, a national board member with American Muslims for Palestine, Los Angeles, CA.


“Israel denied me the ability to travel there because of my work for justice for Palestinians, even though I’m Jewish and a rabbi,” said Rabbi Alissa Wise. “I’m heartbroken and outraged. This is yet another demonstration that democracy and tolerance in Israel only extends to those who fall in line with its increasingly repressive policies against Palestinians.”


The Israeli Knesset (parliament) passed a bill in March banning entry to those who support boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel until Palestinians have full equal rights. Israel’s BDS ban includes those who have endorsed boycotts of products from Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law and longstanding official U.S. policy. It is believed that this is the first time that the policy has been enforced before people even board their flight. It is also the first time that Israel has denied entry to Jews, including a rabbi, for their political positions. This new political litmus test for entry into the country is an extension of the longstanding practices of racial, religious and ethnic profiling of Palestinian, Arab and Muslim visitors to Israel.

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If you can’t ban Muslims . . . ban their computers

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Dubai carrier Emirates is one of 10 airlines from predominantly Muslim countries affected by the new computer ban. (photo: Marwan Naamani / AFP)

“A Muslim ban by a thousand cuts.”

March 21, 2017

In a scathing opinion written by Judge Derrick K. Watson, the U.S. District Court in Honolulu blocked the Administration’s second travel ban targeting Muslim-majority countries. (New York Times)

“The illogic of the Government’s contentions is palpable. The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed. . . . It would therefore be no paradigmatic leap to conclude that targeting these countries likewise targets Islam.”

Now, the Administration is prohibiting passengers from eight Muslim-majority countries from carrying computers, tablets, and cameras onboard U.S.-bound flights. (The Washington PostIndependent)

“Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and Transportation Security Administration acting administrator Huban Gowadia have determined it is necessary to enhance security procedures for passengers at certain last-point-of-departure airports to the United States.”

This despite the U.K. having tried and abandoned a similar ban in 2006, and the utility of such an approach being seriously questioned being raised by security experts. (Independent, The Guardian)

“From a technological perspective, nothing has changed between the last dozen years and today. That is, there are no new technological breakthroughs that make this threat any more serious today. And there is certainly nothing technological that would limit this newfound threat to a handful of Middle Eastern airlines.”

“What appears to be new is this latest overreaction — it appears to be a Muslim ban by a thousand cuts.”

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New Entry Law Is a Reminder That Palestinians Live in Israel’s Prison

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Palestinian workers stand in line next to a portion of the separation wall, waiting to cross through the checkpoint from Bethlehem into Israel. (Miriam Alster / Flash90)

The reality in the West Bank is one that resembles a prison, where Israel controls the law, the security, who can leave, and now who can visit.

By Noam Sheizaf / Local Call via +972 Magazine
March 7, 2017


There is no peace process, nor is there a real discussion over one state or two states. Even discussions on whether Israel is an apartheid state have become intellectual fodder for Jews and leftists. The reality is one that resembles a prison, and the prisoners will continue to be held by force . . . .


The Knesset passed a law Monday night denying entry visas or residency rights to foreign nationals who call for boycotts against Israel or the settlements. The law won’t have much of an effect on entry into Israel proper, but rather will mostly affect those trying to enter the West Bank — a solid reminder that the ban is yet another example of the way Israel holds Palestinians prisoners. After all, one can assume that most people who enter the Palestinian territories oppose the settlements or support some version of the boycott.

Because Israel controls every point of entry into areas under Palestinian control in the West Bank, Palestinians cannot leave (without a permit) or come back (without a permit). With the passage of the law, they are no longer allowed to have visitors. In other words: they are prisoners, and these restrictions are just the tip of the iceberg.

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172 Scholars Decry Israel’s Travel Ban

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Signatures on the Israeli Declaration of Independence, May 14, 1948. (image: Israeli Knesset)

As published on Mondoweiss.net
March 12, 2017


In spite of our different views, we stand in strong opposition to the new law. It will be bad for Israel, bad for the cause of democracy at this fragile moment, and bad for the principles of free speech and thought on which our scholarship is based.


We, the undersigned scholars of Jewish studies, write to express our dismay over the bill passed on March 6 by the Israeli Knesset that would bar entry to any foreigner who supports the BDS movement or supports boycotting settlements or goods produced in the occupied territories. We are researchers with a wide range of professional, social, and personal ties to Israel and a diverse array of ideological positions. But we are unified in our belief that this law represents a further blow to the democratic foundations of Israel, continuing the process of erosion wrought by a recent series of bills including the Regulation Law, the Suspension of MKs Law, and the NGO Law, as well as the earlier Boycott Law. This is unacceptable. Continue reading

Am I Too Dangerous to Enter Israel?

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A soldier guards a Purim celebration in Hebron. (photo: Gil Cohen-Magen)

If supporting a non-violent boycott of the settlements makes me an enemy of the Israeli state, so be it. But Israel’s border officers will have to hear my story before they turn me away for good.

By Letty Cottin Pogrebin / Haaretz
March 9, 2017


I can’t unsee what I’ve seen or ignore what I know. The violation of another people by the Jewish State in the name of the Jewish people has pricked my conscience and inspired my activism over these last four decades. It makes me mourn for the principles enshrined in Israel’s Declaration of Independence whose words, now moribund, once sent us out in the streets dancing for joy. . . . If that makes me an enemy of the state, so be it. But like many other Jews outraged by this new ban, I will return because Israel’s founders guaranteed me refuge and my parents taught me that Israel was my second home. The border officers will have to look me in the eyes and hear my story before they turn me away for good.


Okay,  yes, I’ve written critical articles and signed Open Letters protesting Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and decrying the settlement enterprise; and yes, I’ve been a member of Americans for Peace Now for more than 30 years and a supporter of B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch, ACRI, and the New Israel Fund, among other “suspect” organizations. So it’s a safe bet that, under the new Israeli entry ban, I’m going to end up on the government’s blacklist.

But if they’re going to ban me, I think they ought to know a few other facts about the American Jewish woman they’ve judged too dangerous to step foot beyond the security gate at Ben Gurion airport. To wit:

  • My paternal grandparents made aliyah in the 1930s and both are buried in Tiberias, my grandfather the victim of an Arab raid, my grandmother the casualty of her traumatic loss.

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