Israel Continues its Mistreatment of U.S. Citizens
Hala is free, but it’s only a matter of time before it happens to another American unless the U.S holds Israel accountable immediately
While visiting the West Bank with her mom, sister, and aunt, a 22-year-old St. Louis college student was detained by Israeli Occupation Forces on Friday, December 16th, and held over the weekend after she attempted to cross the border from Ramallah into Jerusalem to visit the holy sites with her family. Hala Kasim Salameh, a Palestinian-American, had received a permit to enter Jerusalem a few days prior to her trip, but that did not stop Israeli occupation forces from detaining her in the Neve Tirtza prison in Ramla for a full weekend and denying her family adequate information about her condition.
As soon as we learned of Hala’s detention, the Missouri Chapter of American Muslims for Palestine was on the case, immediately contacting her local, state and Congressional elected officials as well as reaching out to the press. Our advocacy director also contacted the State Department immediately upon notice.
Even though Salameh is an American citizen, the fact that she was born in the occupied West Bank means that Israel completely disregards her American citizenship, and requires her to apply for movement permits like other Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank.
Hala’s release from Israeli detention is a welcomed development and we still await her safe return home. However, this doesn’t solve the systemic problem of Israeli detention, discrimination, harassment, and intimidation targeting American citizens of Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim backgrounds. This mistreatment has been acknowledged by the U.S. State Department, which warns American citizens of these backgrounds to expect “significant difficulties and unequal and occasionally hostile treatment at Israel’s borders and checkpoints.” Instead of warning Americans of the mistreatment that awaits them, the U.S. government should be protecting these citizens and warning Israel against mistreating them.
The U.S. gives Israel $3.8 billion every single year and has used its Veto power to shield Israel from accountability at the United Nations Security Council over 50 times. This ‘blank check’ policy of unconditional support for Israel, even when it commits daily crimes against humanity and war crimes against Palestinians, and even when it violates the rights of American citizens, is utterly unacceptable! We call on the Biden administration to immediately correct course and to begin applying real and meaningful pressure on Israel to end the mistreatment of American citizens immediately. This starts with an investigation into and accountability for the detention of Hala Salameh and goes on to include accountability for the killing of American citizens like Shireen Abu Akleh and Omar Assad earlier this year, among a long list of crimes for which Israel was never made to answer.
Just last month, Israel was attempting admission into the U.S. Visa Waiver program, granting easements for Israeli travelers coming to the United States. How do they expect to get admitted when the number one requirement is reciprocity, something they continuously refuse to meet according to their track record of mistreatment of U.S. citizens, and when their newly implemented COGAT regulations make freedom of movement even more difficult than it already was? AMP will continue to fight against Israel's unjust system and our own government's complicity until Israel is held to the same standard as any other nation instead of being treated like it’s above the law.