by Lawrence Davidson
The State Department is that branch of government that has responsibility for foreign policy. Every U.S. embassy and consulate is an extension of the State Department. U.S. citizens traveling abroad, be it on a short vacation to Canada or Mexico or an extended venture for business or study to anywhere on the globe where the U.S. has diplomatic relations, can rely on assistance in an emergency from the State Department. Well, almost anywhere.
How about Israel? In theory there is no difference between the behavior of State Department personnel in Israel and anywhere else. If you go to the State Department’s website and look under Israel, Entry and Exit Difficulties it will tell you how to contact the embassy or consulates, in case of need, depending on where in the country you are. Thus, if you are stuck at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport you should contact the consular section of the U.S. Embassy (972) (3) 519-7575. If you are stuck at the Allenby Bridge border crossing you have to ring up the consulate in Jerusalem (972) (2) 630-4000. But, again, that’s theory.
In practice, however, the behavior of the State Department’s diplomatic personnel in Israel is quite different than that of diplomats in other countries. In fact, like everything else touching on Israel, U.S. diplomatic practice has been corrupted by the power and influence of the Zionist lobby in Washington.
Take the recent case of Sandra Tamari. Ms Tamari is a Quaker, the mother of two children, an American citizen of Palestinian dissent, and also a member of the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee. She traveled to Israel at the end of May 2012 to "participate in an interfaith delegation involving Palestinians and Israelis working for peace and coexistence." She was stopped at Ben Gurion Airport and "aggressively questioned for over eight hours before being taken to a detention center and deported back to the United States. During the questioning, Israeli security demanded that she show them her personal email account and accused her of being a terrorist."
Given her situation, Ms Tamari attempted to contact the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. It took a couple of hours for her to actually get someone to speak to. This someone was Mr. Chris Kane, a General Service Officer. According to Ms Tamari’s account here is how part of the conversation went:
Tamari: They are threatening to deny me entry and to deport me.
Kane: Are you Jewish?
Kane: Have you been here before? …..
Tamari: Yes, several times. I am a Palestinian with family in the West Bank.
Kane: Oh, you have family in the West Bank. Then there is nothing I can do to help you. In fact if I interceded on your behalf, it will hurt your case with the Israelis. …….
Tamari: I don’t understand. You are saying you can’t speak with them. You have no influence….
Kane: ….They won’t harm you. You will be sent home on the next flight out. I hope I have been of good service to you.
Tamari: Frankly, you have done nothing for me.
Kane: Well, at least you can say I did it kindly.
As comical and Kafkaesque as this exchange might sound, it is not particularly unusual. Americans active in the cause of Palestinian rights are often stopped at border points controlled by Israel. Often they are harassed. Sometimes they are deported. Whatever the case, an appeal to the U.S. Embassy or the Jerusalem consulate will not get you help.
Why is this so? The politicians who make up our national elected officials from the President on down are committed to the Zionist view of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. With rare exceptions, this has been the case for at least 65 years. That has been long enough to purge the State Department of almost anyone who was sympathetic to the Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular. If, by mistake, someone did end up in the Tel Aviv embassy with a bit of heart and showed it in an actual attempt to help someone like Tamari, it would go down as a blot on their service record. He or she would probably find themselves quickly reassigned to Nepal or Iceland.
The situation can get much worse than that experienced by Ms. Tamari. When, in March 2003, 23 year-old Rachel Corrie, an American citizen from Olympia Washington, was murdered by the Israeli army while trying to stop a home demolition the State Department did little. Indeed, if it were not for the public protest of Corey’s parents and their supporters, it is likely the Department would have done little beyond issuing regrets. As it was, it took over a year for the State Department to issue a call for an independent investigation of the incident. Nor has State ever applied sufficient pressure on the Israelis to bring such an investigation into reality.
Again when, in May 2010, Israeli soldiers murdered a 19 year-old American citizen, Furkan Dogan, during an illegal raid, carried out in international waters, on a humanitarian aid flotilla bound for Gaza, the State Department’s reaction was muted at best. There was a tendency on the part of Washington to stall and then rationalize Israeli actions. In Congress, the flotilla participants were labeled terrorists.
This behavior on the part of our elected officials and appointed diplomats is a function of corruption. I remember often being challenged by Zionists who would ask, why do you attack Israel? Aren’t there many other nations which you could complain about? My answer, then and now, speaks to problems we face both in the federal government in general and the State Department in particular. It goes like this:
"The fact is that Zionist influence spreads far beyond Israel’s area of dominion and has, for a long while now, exerted a corrupting power within many of the political institutions of Western governments, and particularly that of the United States. In other words, unlike the Russians or the Chinese and other such governments, the Israelis and their supporters directly influence the policy makers of our own country and this often results in our abetting Israel’s crimes. This makes it imperative that Zionist Israel be singled out as a high priority case from among the many other oppressive regimes that may be candidates for criticism and protest."