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NPR on Sept. 5 reported on the attempt by Israel and the US to reach an agreement that would ease travel for Israeli citizens to the US and Palestinian American citizens to Israel and within the West Bank. NPR’s take is that the American restrictions are, in principle, reasonable, while the Israeli restrictions are unreasonable — a violation of basic human rights.
The basic trade-off under consideration is this: Israelis could now enter the US without a visa. Palestinian Americans could now enter Israel at Ben Gurion Airport without being questioned and can pass through check points on the West Bank without being questioned.
The American restriction on Israelis is reported to be based on three concerns: Israeli spies entering the US, Israelis overstaying their visas, and American objections to restrictions on Palestinian Americans.
Israelis who overstay their visa present a legitimate concern.
Observe how NPR reports the other two concerns: It lets the Israeli spy charge stand as is. No interview with anyone who would rebut the charge is presented. On the other hand, NPR presents numerous interviews with people who rebut the Israeli rationale for the restrictions on Palestinians Americans and, indeed, who passionately denounce these restrictions and Israel.
As for the rationale behind the restrictions, NPR reports that they began “50 years ago” with “hijackings.”
That’s the presentation of the Israeli rationale: one single word: hijackings. Not: who did the hijackings.
Not: what was hijacked. Not: how many hijackings took place. Not: the damage they caused. Not even accurate dating. Basic reporting would get the date right. A particularly notorious hijacking was led by Leila Khaled. That was in 1969 — 54 years ago.
NPR’s razor thin memory did not share the following with its listeners. Who did the hijackings: Arabs, mostly born in Palestine. What was hijacked: passenger airliners. How many took place: at least six before 1973 (Wikipedia). The damage (depending on the hijacking): dead passengers, blown up airplanes, release of jailed terrorists, glorification of terrorism, which increased the allure of terrorism, the number of Palestinian terrorists, and the frequency of terrorist incidents.
All this is the rationale for the inception of Israel’s restrictions on the movement of Palestinians into and within Israel.
Perhaps the worst damage of the hijackings was their inspiration of innovative techniques for committing murder. Nary a word in the NPR report on the continued embrace of that wicked streak of innovation in the terrible drive-by murder of Israeli parents and children in the last few months.
Hijackings were then, and terrorist attacks are today, a substitute for peacemaking. They have the consequence of travel restrictions. Israel doesn’t want them. They endanger Israeli soldiers and anger the people with whom Israel wants to live in peace. The restrictions are counterproductive to peace, but superseding that consideration must be the safety Israel’s citizens. There is a solution: Stop the terrorism.
The US, and apparently the Israeli government, think that these restrictions can be loosened with no fatal consequence. This type of gesture has been made by Israel before with only negative repercussions, i.e., more terrorism. If the deal is finalized, we hope and pray that doesn’t happen.
In any event, nary a word from NPR on the Israeli side of the story — why the travel restrictions will remain in place for Palestinians living in the West Bank who are not American citizens — only that they’re terrible. There is a reason some call it National Palestinian Radio.
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