For Immediate Release
Portland, Oregon, May 17, 2013. A newly constructed and visually stunning 44 foot long replica of the illegal Israeli Apartheid Wall will be unveiled at a protest outside the annual Oregon fund-raising dinner of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) this Sunday, May 19, 2013. Two JPEG images of sections of the banner are attached. The demonstration will be organized by a coalition of peace, human rights, church and Palestine solidarity organizations which, among others, include Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights (AUPHR), Christ's Way Church, Friends of Sabeel North America ~ Portland Action Group, Jewish Voice for Peace - Portland (JVP), Lutherans for Justice in the Holy Land, and Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights (SUPER).
The protest will take place outside the Mittleman Jewish Community Center, 6651 SW Capitol Highway in Portland, beginning at 4 p.m. on Sunday May 19.
The Israeli Apartheid Wall is twice as tall as the Berlin Wall and over three times as long. It runs straight through the heart of the Palestinian landscape, separating Palestinian villages and cities from one another, and separating farmers from their fields. Because the Wall is such a powerful and ever-present symbol of the oppression of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation, the coalition of groups chose to feature it at this year's AIPAC event. The banner shows actual sections of the Wall, including one of the tall, ominous guard towers. At the base of the Wall is the sad image of Palestinian workers standing in line, waiting to be processed at an Israeli Checkpoint on their way to work in the morning. If a picture is worth a thousand words, this banner is worth a million because it tells the story that AIPAC does not want Oregonians to know. That story, which is what is actually going on, is one of brutal Israeli repression of a largely defenseless population and Israeli denial of the most basic of human rights.
The demonstration will protest AIPAC’s role in promoting a military attack on Iran’s nuclear energy facilities. The protest is also calling for an end to U.S. military aid to the Israeli government, which refuses to halt the construction of illegal settlements and routinely violates the human rights of Palestinians living under Occupation. Israel controls the lives of more than 4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip but denies them the right to vote or their right to self-determination.
“AIPAC represents a minority, radically right-wing position in its lobbying for the Netanyahu government,” explained William Seaman, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace. “They do not represent Jewish opinion in the United States or in Israel, which is one reason groups like JVP and other Jewish organizations are challenging their disproportionate influence on our political process.” Polls show that AIPAC does not speak for most American Jews.
Demonstrators are committed to nonviolence and oppose all forms of racism, including racism against Jews and Islamophobia. They are asking Oregon residents and political leaders to say No to war on Iran, No to funding Israeli apartheid, and No to AIPAC.
For more information, contact: Peter Miller,
The road to hell is truly paved with good, even if sometimes ridiculous,
intentions. A whole line of Israeli writers have signed up to an open letter
to Samer Issawi, the prisoner who has been on a hunger strike for many
months. “We feel,”they wrote to him, “that the suicidal act you are about to
commit will add another facet of tragedy and desperation to the conflict
between the two peoples… don’t pile more despair on the despair already in
existence…. “We urge you to stop your hunger strike and choose life.” And
because they have imposed the responsibility actually upon him, upon the
skeletal bare bones that is still left of him, they, these fully satiated
people, also demanded of him that he should give them hope: ” Give yourself
hope, thus strengthening the hope within all of us,” they write.
And I ask you, my fellow writers and enlightened Israeli people, how did you
turn this narrative upside down? It is not Samer Issawi, but you, who have
given up and chosen doom. You, who have seen with your eyes the moral
decline of Israeli society under its elected leadership. You, who have seen
all this during all those years and either remained on the sideline or
occasionally sounded a whimpered protest – you are the ones who gave up –
you and not him.
Issawi did not choose to commit suicide but to fight for his freedom. Had
you really been anxious about his welfare and wanted to encourage him to
choose life, you would have demanded his immediate release. And it is quite
likely that your voice would have been heard throughout this land and the
whole world. Had you responded in this fashion you would have bestowed hope
upon him and his people – and our people. Because his life and our lives,
his death and ours are all intertwined inseparably. Who knows this better
than you and who can tell it better than you that the decision is in the
hands of Israel and that it is Israel whom you need to address. It is the
government who holds the power and the weapons, not the prisoner who is
fading away in his handcuffs.
Faced with all this power, this prisoner chose the protest weapon of a
hunger strike – a non-violent weapon and one as legitimate as they come. He
has used it for the thousands locked up in Israeli jails for decades and for
the many new detainees who are joining them daily, after having been taken
from their homes during night raids by the army. Well, the level of Issawi’s
anger and suffering meant that he apparently reached the end of his tether,
and if he dies others will take his place – this is his hope and that is his
message, a message of struggle. And you are asking him to drop this fight?
What hope are you offering him, you liberated free people?
You write to him that there are now “new encouraging signs that the
negotiations between the sides will resume which will include the release of
prisoners, including even you.” Really? He wasn’t released all that long ago
following negotiations. He was released back into that big prison that he
and all his people are corralled in between walls and fences a few
kilometres from your own homes. And what happened? He had crossed one such
fence, from one neighbourhood in the city of Jerusalem to another, and was
immediately captured and imprisoned in a smaller jail again. “Do you want
your liberation?” they tell him. “Then go to that jail known as Gaza or to
exile overseas, as long as you go away from your Land, from your birthplace,
and get out of our sight.”
“We are committed to tirelessly striving toward peace between the two
peoples, who will live side by side forever in this country “, you sign off
your open letter to him. You are our greatest writers, who cherish and
respect the meaning of words, how could you lend your name to this kind of
rhetoric today in 2013? After all, if you went to see for yourself in the
place we call “the Territories”, you would have realised that while you were
“tirelessly striving for peace” that big prison, in which one of the two
peoples of the land is incarcerated, has been transformed into a disjointed
region disrupted and divided by huge brown settlements, and there’s no other
place for two peoples living forever side by side…
So here’s what I suggest to you and us in a response to your open letter:
instead of teaching Issawi the rules of struggle, let us learn from him and
join in a non-violent popular struggle. We won’t be fighting for his life
but for our own. We won’t be struggling against him, but against those who
seek to destroy and wreck, who have come from amongst us and who are
now in power.
Let’s carry it in the spirit of what Yossi Sarid wrote here recently. (If
not with a stone, then with what? Haaretz 12 April), he suggested:
“boycotting Israeli goods, not working in the building of settlements… lying
down in front of the bulldozers, attacking the fences and the walls, getting
arrested at every opportunity, filling the prisons.” While it is true that
Sarid actually offered these proposals to the Palestinians (perhaps out of
despair, there is a new fashion developing among good Israelis, to teach the
Palestinians how to get rid of us….) But it would actually be much easier
and more convenient for us to be guided and inspired by those tips.
Palestinians cannot afford to stop working in the settlements nor can they
boycott Israeli goods, for if they were to do that, they will sentence their
families to hunger. They do not have an alternative income or goods. But we
can call for the boycott of the settlements and their products, despite the
law prohibiting it, without risking having food taken out of our mouths.
Palestinians risk their lives when they tackle the walls and fences, and
they are injured and killed while doing so. But we can challenge the walls
in a friendly and peaceful manner: visit the towns and villages of the West
Bank despite the prohibitions inscribed on those daunting red signs that the
Israeli authorities placed on their outskirts. We can transport Palestinians
to visit us. As for lying down in front of bulldozers, we’d skip that for
the time being, for that was the way in which Rachel Corrie was killed some
years back. As for the prisons, the Palestinians fill them anyway from
Megiddo to Nafta, and many spend most of their lives in them. And as for us
– by the time we start filling them because of our non-violent resistance;
by the time A B Yehoshua, Agi Mishol, Amos Oz and Ronit Matalon, for
example, are incarcerated in jail – by then there will be a genuine public
discourse on the direction of our country, and perhaps it will bring with it
the internal change that tens of thousands of us desire so much. I urge you,
signatories to the Issawi letter, brace up this hope inside us.
The author is a translator, editor and author.
I write this in defense of my Oregon, a state I grew up in and love. I strongly condemn the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013. This AIPAC inspired bill was introduced by California’s Barbara Boxer, and co-sponsored by Ron Wyden. My Oregon is part of a larger world and deserves better than this.
It is often said that there must never be any “daylight” between Israel and the US. I beg to differ. Every time Israel ignores international law, engages in racism, or continues to steal land, we should all feel compelled to cry out for more distance, more “daylight.” The more we become entangled in Israel’s moral quagmire and the more our legislators bend our rules to accommodate Israel, the more likely it becomes that Israel’s oppressive policies will corrode our own laws and values. People must realize that, for all non-Jewish people inside Israel and living under its occupation, Israel is not a true democracy.
Read more: A call to reject the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act
IT WAS a moving experience. Moments that spoke not only to the mind, but also – and foremost – to the heart.
Last Sunday, on the eve of Israel’s Remembrance Day for the fallen in our wars, I was invited to an event organized by the activist group Combatants for Peace and the Forum of Israeli and Palestinian Bereaved Parents.
The first surprise was that it took place at all. In the general atmosphere of discouragement of the Israeli peace camp after the recent elections, when almost no one dared even to mention the word peace, such an event was heartening.
The second surprise was its size. It took place in one of the biggest halls in the country, Hangar 10 in Tel-Aviv’s fair grounds. It holds more than 2000 seats. A quarter of an hour before the starting time, attendance was depressingly sparse. Half an hour later, it was choke full. (Whatever the many virtues of the peace camp, punctuality is not among them.)
The third surprise was the composition of the audience. There were quite a lot of white-haired old-timers, including myself, but the great majority was composed of young people, at least half of them young women. Energetic, matter-of-fact youngsters, very Israeli.
I felt as if I was in a relay race. My generation passing the baton on to the next. The race continues.
BUT THE outstanding feature of the event was, of course, its content. Israelis and Palestinians were mourning together for their dead sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, victims of the conflict and wars, occupation and resistance (a.k.a. terror.)
An Arab villager spoke quietly of his daughter, killed by a soldier on her way to school. A Jewish mother spoke of her soldier son, killed in one of the wars. All in a subdued voice. Without pathos. Some spoke Hebrew, some Arabic.
They spoke of their first reaction after their loss, the feelings of hatred, the thirst for revenge. And then the slow change of heart. The understanding that the parents on the other side, the Enemy, felt exactly like them, that their loss, their mourning, their bereavement was exactly as their own.
For years now, bereaved parents of both sides have been meeting regularly to find solace in each other's company. Among all the peace groups acting in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they are, perhaps, the most heart-lifting.
IT WAS not easy for the Arab partners to get to this meeting. At first, they were denied permission by the army to enter Israel. Gabi Lasky, the indomitable advocate of many peace groups (including Gush Shalom), had to threaten with an application to the Supreme Court, just to obtain a limited concession: 45 Palestinians from the West Bank were allowed to attend.
(It is a routine measure of the occupation: before every Jewish holiday the West Bank is completely cut off from Israel – except for the settlers, of course. This is how most Palestinians become acquainted with Jewish holidays.)
What was so special about the event was that the Israeli-Arab fraternization took place on a purely human level, without political speeches, without the slogans which have become, frankly, a bit stale.
For two hours, we were all engulfed by human emotions, by a profound feeling for each other. And it felt good.
I AM writing this to make a point that I feel very strongly about: the importance of emotions in the struggle for peace.
I am not a very emotional person myself. But I am acutely conscious of the place of emotions in the political struggle. I am proud of having coined the phrase “In politics, it is irrational to ignore the irrational.” Or, if you prefer, “in politics, it is rational to accept the irrational.”
This is a major weakness of the Israeli peace movement. It is exceedingly rational – indeed, perhaps too rational. We can easily prove that Israel needs peace, that without peace we are doomed to become an apartheid state, if not worse.
All over the world, leftists are more sober than rightists. When the leftists are propounding a logical argument for peace, reconciliation with former enemies, social equality and help for the disadvantaged, the rightists answer with a volley of emotional and irrational slogans.
But masses of people are not moved by logic. They are moved by their feelings.
One expression of feelings – and a generator of feelings – is the language of songs. One can gauge the intensity of a movement by its melodies. Who can imagine the marches of Martin Luther King without “We shall overcome”? Who can think about the Irish struggle without its many beautiful songs? Or the October revolution without its host of rousing melodies?
The Israeli peace movement has produced one single song: a sad appeal of the dead to the living. Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated within minutes of singing it, its blood-stained text found on his body. But all the many writers and composers of the peace movement have not produced one single rousing anthem – while the hate-mongers can draw on a wealth of religious and nationalist hymns.
IT IS said that one does not have to like one's adversary in order to make peace with them. One makes peace with the enemy, as we all have declaimed hundreds of times. The enemy is the person you hate.
I have never quite believed in that, and the older I get, the less I do.
True, one cannot expect millions of people on both sides to love each other. But the core of peace-makers, the pioneers, cannot fulfill their tasks if there is not an element of mutual sympathy between them.
A certain type of Israeli peace activist does not accept this truism. Sometimes one has the feeling that they truly want peace – but not really with the Arabs. They love peace, because they love themselves. They stand before a mirror and tell themselves: Look how wonderful I am! How humane! How moral!
I remember how much animosity I aroused in certain progressive circles when I created our peace symbol: the crossed flags of Israel and Palestine. When one of us raised this emblem at a Peace Now demonstration in the late eighties, it caused a scandal. He was rudely asked to leave, and the movement publicly apologized.
To give an impetus to a real peace movement, you have to imbue it with the spirit of empathy for the other side. You must have a feeling for their humanity, their culture, their narrative, their aspirations, their fears, their hopes. And that applies, of course, to both sides.
Nothing can be more damaging to the chances of peace than the activity of fanatical pro-Israelis and pro-Palestinians abroad, who think that they are helping their preferred side by demonizing the other. You don’t make peace with demons.
FRATERNIZATION BETWEEN Palestinians and Israelis is a must. No peace movement can succeed without it.
And here we came to a painful paradox: the more this fraternization is needed, the less there is.
During the last few years, there has been a growing estrangement between the two sides. Yasser Arafat was very conscious of the need for contact, and did much to further it. (I constantly urged him to do more.) Since his death, this effort has receded.
On the Israeli side, peace efforts have become less and less popular. Fraternization takes place every week in Bil’in and on many other battlefields, but the major peace organizations are not too eager to meet.
On the Palestinian side there is a lot of resentment, a (justified) feeling that the Israeli peace movement has not delivered. Worse, that joint public meetings could be considered by the Palestinian masses as a form of “normalization” with Israel, something like collaboration with the enemy.
This must be changed. Only large-scale, public and heart-felt cooperation between the peace movements of the two sides can convince the public – on both sides – that peace is possible.
THESE THOUGHTS were running through my head as I listened to the simple words of Palestinians and Israelis in that big remembrance meeting.
It was all there: the spirit, the emotion, the empathy, the cooperation.
It was a human moment. That's how it all starts.
Barbara Boxer, AIPAC seek to codify Israel's right to discriminate against Americans
A bill introduced by the California Democrat would uniquely exempt Israel from long-standing requirements imposed on all other nations
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 13 April 2013 11.15 EDT
Barbara Boxer, the chair of the Senate environment and public works committee
Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer introduces an Aipac-favored bill that would allow Israel, uniquely among all countries, to discriminate against Americans of Arab descent Photograph: Joe Marquette/EPA
(updated below - Update II)
In order for the US to permit citizens of a foreign country to enter the US without a visa, that country must agree to certain conditions. Chief among them is reciprocity: that country must allow Americans to enter without a visa as well. There are 37 countries which have been permitted entrance into America's "visa waiver" program, and all of them - all 37 - reciprocate by allowing American citizens to enter their country without a visa.
The American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) is now pushing legislation that would allow Israel to enter this program, so that Israelis can enter the US without a visa. But as JTA's Ron Kampeas reports, there is one serious impediment: Israel has a practice of routinely refusing to allow Americans of Arab ethnicity or Muslim backgrounds to enter their country or the occupied territories it controls; it also bars those who are critical of Israeli actions or supportive of Palestinian rights. Israel refuses to relinquish this discriminatory practice of exclusion toward Americans, even as it seeks to enter the US's visa-free program for the benefit of Israeli citizens.
As a result, at the behest of Aipac, Democrat Barbara Boxer, joined by Republican Roy Blunt, has introduced a bill that would provide for Israel's membership in the program while vesting it with a right that no other country in this program has: namely, the right to exclude selected Americans from this visa-free right of entrance. In other words, the bill sponsored by these American senators would exempt Israel from a requirement that applies to every other nation on the planet, for no reason other than to allow the Israeli government to engage in racial, ethnic and religious discrimination against US citizens. As Lara Friedman explained when the Senate bill was first introduced, it "takes the extraordinary step of seeking to change the current US law to create a special and unique exception for Israel in US immigration law." In sum, it is as pure and blatant an example of prioritizing the interests of the Israeli government over the rights of US citizens as one can imagine, and it's being pushed by Aipac and a cast of bipartisan senators.
Israel's religious- and ethnicity-based entrance exclusions of American citizens are so well-documented and pervasive that even the US State Department provides an official warning about it in its official travel advisory for Israel, noting:
Some US citizens holding Israeli nationality, possessing a Palestinian identity card, or of Arab or Muslim origin have experienced significant difficulties in entering or exiting Israel or the West Bank."
Friedman notes that the bill is specifically designed to protect "Israel's regular and arbitrary denial of entry to US citizens . . . in particular US citizens of Arab descent or US citizens viewed as sympathetic to the Palestinians". As the former Director of the US Office of B'Tselem, Mitchell Plitnick, explained this week, concern over Israel's discriminatory exclusions was heightened by Israel's refusal this January to allow an American teacher of Palestinian descent, Nour Joudah, to enter Israel to teach English in the West Bank despite her holding a valid visa. As Plitnick noted, "Israel, undoubtedly, is concerned that a reciprocal agreement would compromise its ability to bar not only Palestinian-Americans, but also pro-Palestinian activists, from entering the country."
To accommodate this desire to discriminate, Boxer, Blunt and Aipac are now attempting to create a special exemption for Israel from the requirement to which all other countries are bound, and by which the US will be bound vis-a-vis Israelis. More amazingly, the only purpose of this exemption from these US senators would be to allow Israel to discriminate against the citizens of the country these senators are supposed to represent. As Mike Coogan of the US Campaign to End Israeli Occupation wrote in the Hill this week, "given that Israel views the mere existence of Palestinians as a threat, the [Boxer/Aipac bill] would essentially codify Israel's discrimination against Palestinian-, Muslim-, and Arab-Americans into US law." Indeed, Aipac is not even attempting to pretend this exemption has a non-discriminatory purpose. He further explained:
According to off the record accounts, AIPAC officials told members of Congress that there would need to be flexibility on this legal requirement to accommodate Israel's ongoing discrimination against Arab- and Muslim-Americans who attempt to travel to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories."
So brazen is this bill in the special favors it showers on Israel at the expense of American citizens that even normally loyal factions in Congress are balking. As Kampeas reported:
'It's stunning that you would give a green light to another country to violate the civil liberties of Americans traveling abroad,' said a staffer for one leading pro-Israel lawmaker in the US House of Representatives.
Stunning indeed, but unfortunately far from surprising. Coogan similarly reported:
"Numerous public reports and off-the-record accounts from legislators and staff signaled that the brazenness and late release of the Israel lobby's legislative demands blindsided both individual members and various committees. Provisions appeared tone deaf and legally problematic, even among Israel's strongest supporters. . . .
"Behind closed doors, members of Congress and legal counsel alike balked at the idea that Israel be allowed in the program but remain exempt from the reciprocity requirement. Attorneys for both individual members and committees privately advised that complying with the request would be a flagrant violation of certain US laws barring discrimination, and would undermine the US government's call for the equal protection of all its citizens traveling abroad."
Apparently, none of that is a concern for Barbara Boxer, Roy Blunt or Aipac. Protecting the equal rights of their own country's citizens quite obviously has little significance when weighed against the supreme mandate to serve the interests of the Israeli government. That's not hyperbole: how else can this bill be fairly described?
The bill, formally named the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013, now has a total of 18 co-sponsors. That includes 9 Democrats and 9 Republicans, perfectly symbolizing how bipartisan is loyalty to Aipac on Capitol Hill. Besides Boxer, the bill's chief sponsor, that list of co-sponsors includes such progressive favorites as Ron Wyden, Amy Klobuchar, Richard Blumenthal, and Benjamin Cardin, as well as reflexive right-wing GOP Israel supporters such as John Cornyn and Saxby Chambliss. Perhaps most disgracefully, one of the co-sponsors is Democrat Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, whose state boasts a large Arab-American and Muslim-American population: exactly the people who would be targeted by this discrimination from a foreign government which she is seeking to legalize.
Coogan notes that, even with 18 co-sponsors in the Senate, the bill has attracted an unusually low level of support for an Aipac bill, which typically passes quickly and without much resistance. Plitnick says that "it certainly seems like AIPAC reached a little too far with this bill" and notes that Coogan's reporting suggests "this is a sign that AIPAC's grip on Congress might be weakening". This all follows an article in the Forward suggesting that Aipac's possible attempts to have Israeli aid uniquely protected from the budget cuts mandated by "sequestration" could "deprive aid to Israel of its broader support in the foreign aid community" by creating resentment in Congress and in the country generally.
Indeed, as AIPAC itself notes in touting Boxer's Senate bill, it includes numerous other provisions to further bolster Israel's special status vis-a-vis US policy. The bill begins by reciting the standard narrative favored by the Israeli government: "the Government of Iran continues to pose a grave threat to the region and the world at large with its reckless uranium enrichment program and defiance of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions." At a time when American citizens are facing severe budget cuts, the bill vows "to continue to provide Israel with robust security assistance". The bill accomplishes its pro-discrimination goal by mandating Israel's entrance into the visa-free program provided that Israel "has made every reasonable effort, without jeopardizing the security of the State of Israel, to ensure that reciprocal travel privileges are extended to all United States citizens'". That is the special exemption that no other country in the program is permitted: Israel, alone in the world, is not required to reciprocate for US citizens but merely will make "every reasonable effort, without jeopardizing the security of the State of Israel, to ensure that reciprocal travel privileges are extended to all United States citizens."
Despite the unusually tepid reaction in Congress, this fight is far from over. Aipac rarely if ever loses when it comes to bills they want Congress to enact. As Coogan notes, "even without a large number of co-sponsors, it could pass under unanimous consent or other rules used by members of Congress to stymie debate or give the impression that legislation has more support than is really the case."
Aipac and its supporters have long expressed righteous outrage at suggestions that they prioritize Israeli interests over US interests and those of American citizens. Yet it is hard to imagine a clearer or purer example of exactly that behavior than this pernicious bill. If you're a US politician finding yourself working to allow a foreign government to discriminate against your own fellow citizens - by vesting that foreign country with a right that no other country (including your own) has - then you're essentially broadcasting to the world that the interests of that foreign government take precedence over your own and over the equal rights of your own fellow citizens.
Somewhat ironically, as Kampeas notes, what long kept Israel out of the US's visa-free program were "concerns in Congress' Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees that granting visa-free access to Israel's Arab minority could pose a security risk to the United States." So what had previously prevented this deal was that the US was long driven by the same discriminatory mindset that is now driving Israel: we want to keep Arabs out of our country! Notably, the Boxer/Aipac bill accommodates only the Israeli concern about Arabs in their country, but not the identical US concern, as they provide this discriminatory exemption right only to Israel but not to their own country.
To illustrate how central the concept of reciprocity is in foreign relations (and to seize the opportunity to highlight a story I love so very much): on Friday, the US announced it was banning 18 Russian officials from entering the US due to human rights violations; today, Russia, in response, announced a list of 18 US officials banned from entering Russia due to their participation in the US torture regime, including David Addington, John Yoo, and two former commanding generals at Guantanamo. The Russians did not hide the fact that they were driven by one consideration only: the principle of reciprocity.
In 2004, the US began photographing and fingerprinting upon entry to the country the citizens of various countries, including Brazil; in response, a Brazilian court ordered the Brazilian government to begin photographing and fingerprinting US citizens entering Brazil. I recall quite well that a separate line was then created at all Brazilian airports under a huge sign that read: "for US citizens", where all arriving Americans waited in a long line. It's likely that the Brazilian government - which had no real interest in fingerprinting people - threw the fingerprints and photographs away. They did it for one reason: reciprocity.
This is the crucial, central principle which Barbara Boxer, Aipac and friends are discarding in order to benefit Israel. And what's most amazing is that they are discarding it not to the benefit of their own country and its citizens, but rather to their disadvantage, in order to benefit a foreign country. What they are saying, in effect, is that they want to waive reciprocity so that Israeli citizens can be treated better than US citizens in relations between the two countries. It is hard to overstate just how extraordinary that is.