Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) National President Morton A. Klein and ZOA Director of Government Relations Dan Pollak released the following statement:
The ZOA vehemently condemns the letter authored by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) which urges Secretary of State Antony Blinken to deny Israel’s request to be added to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The program allows citizens of participating countries to enter the U.S. for 90 days without applying for a visa. It is obvious that adding Israel to the Visa Waiver Program will aid the American Economy by facilitating increased tourism. Israel has been in negotiations with the U.S. about joining the program, and Israeli officials have said they expect to be added in 2023.
There are 40 countries whose citizens can enter the U.S. without visas (see below). Israel is the only close ally of the United States, and the only western-oriented democracy, to be excluded from this list. Even a Muslim country, Brunei, is included in the list, but the world’s only Jewish state is excluded. It is fitting that negotiations have been moving forward to add Israel to this program. The Congressional critics, however, all of whom are active in anti-Israel advocacy, take clearly essential Israeli security precautions as reasons to deny entry into this program.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said:
“The Democratic Congressmen who are objecting to Israeli participation in the Visa Waiver Program are motivated purely by animus of the Jewish state and in some cases, hatred of Jews. Israel has legitimate security concerns for excluding some visitors to their country, just as we do in the United States. The scandal is that Israel is not already in the program, and ZOA will praise the administration when it welcomes Israel into this program. Israel is our closest ally in the Middle East and is therefore a perfect candidate for the Visa Waiver program.”
ZOA Director of Government Relations Dan Pollak said:
“The vast majority of both Houses of Congress strongly support Israel’s entry into this program. A bi-partisan Senate letter, written by Sen. Jackie Rosen (D-NV) and Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) and signed by 14 senators late last year urged the administration to allow entry into the program. A similar bi-partisan House letter was signed by 60 House members. These letters pointed out that under the VWP, countries must issue electronic passports, report information on all lost and stolen passports to the U.S. through the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and share information on travelers who may pose a terrorist or criminal threat. Israel is already a huge asset to our country’s counterterrorism effort, and it makes sense to deepen our cooperation.
“It is no accident that this anti-Israel letter is not bi-partisan. We are seeing the same members of Congress who are hostile to Israel take additional steps whenever they see an opportunity to demonize and harm the Jewish State of Israel.”
Countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program:
- Czech Republic
- New Zealand
- San Marino
- South Korea
- United Kingdom