Israel's Entry into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program Examining discrimination against U.S. citizens Capitol Hill Briefing

Written by Kristin. Posted in Projects & Events

Israel's Entry into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program Examining discrimination against U.S. citizens
Capitol Hill Briefing
May 21st, 2014
Noon - 1:30 pm
Russell Senate Office Building Room 485 (SR-485)

This briefing will closely examine Israel's treatment of U.S. travelers as it relates to the Visa Waiver Program, U.S. - Israel treaty obligations, and American civil rights. Two pieces of legislation currently before congress, the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act and the Visa Waiver for Israel Act, call for Israel's entry into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, which would allow Israelis to visit the U.S. for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa.

Over the last few decades, Israel has maintained a policy of discriminating against some U.S. travelers, particularly Americans of Arab or Muslim heritage. Recently, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki expressed concern about the continued mistreatment of U.S. citizens and said Israel's unequal treatment of U.S. citizens constitutes a violation of the Visa Waiver Program's reciprocity requirement.

This briefing will feature a number of distinguished speakers, some of whom have decades of expertise in this field and all of whom have valuable perspectives regarding Israel's discrimination against U.S. citizens.

Dr. James Zogby is the author of Arab Voices (Palgrave Macmillan, October 2010) and the founder and president of the Arab American Institute (AAI), a Washington, D.C.-based organization which serves as the political and policy research arm of the Arab American community. Since 1985, Dr. Zogby and AAI have led Arab American efforts to secure political empowerment in the U.S. Through voter registration, education and mobilization, AAI has moved Arab Americans into the political mainstream.

For the past three decades, Dr. Zogby has been involved in a full range of Arab American issues. A co-founder and chairman of the Palestine Human Rights Campaign in the late 1970s, he later co-founded and served as the Executive Director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. In 1982, he co-founded Save Lebanon, Inc., a private non-profit, humanitarian and non-sectarian relief organization which funds health care for Palestinian and Lebanese victims of war, and other social welfare projects in Lebanon. In 1985, Zogby founded AAI.

Nour Joudah has a Masters of Arts in Arab Studies from Georgetown University. Nour was living and teaching in Ramallah prior to a re-entry denial, and subsequent ban from traveling to Palestine-Israel. Nour is currently living and working in Washington, DC as the Assistant Editor at the Journalof Palestine Studies.

Sandra Tamari is a Palestinian American community organizer with the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee. She serves on the Steering Committee of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and is active with Quaker peace and justice efforts. Sandra was imprisoned and banned from entry by Israel in May 2012 when she landed in Tel Aviv to participate in an interfaith study delegation.

Donna Nevel is a community psychologist, educator, and writer whose work is rooted in Participatory Action Research (PAR) and popular education.

Donna has been involved with a wide range of organizing efforts to challenge segregation and inequality and further equity and racial justice in public education. She serves on the board of Jewish Voice for Peace, has been a long-time organizer for Palestinian-Israeli peace and justice, and works with groups to challenge Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism.

She coordinates the Participatory Action Research Center for Education Organizing (PARCEO) that operates in partnership with the Educational Leadership Program at NYU-Steinhardt where she teaches PAR

Yasmine Taeb was formerly the Government Relations Manager for the Arab American Institute and is a Fellow at the Center for American Progress (CAP) Leadership Institute. Previously, she served as the Middle East and North Africa Analyst at a DC-based consulting firm, the Navanti Group. She has substantial legislative experience, having previously served as a Legislative Fellow for Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations Subcommittee. She advised the Member on homeland security, foreign policy, defense, and civil and human rights issues. Yasmine holds a J.D. from the Penn State Dickinson School of Law, an M.A. in Islam and Muslim-Christian Relations from Georgetown University, and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Florida.