FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUST 8, 2002
Israel Refuses Entry to U.S. Congressional Staff Delegation
AMMAN, JORDAN – August 8 – Israel today refused entry to a nine-person U.S. Congressional staff delegation co-sponsored by American Muslims for Jerusalem (AMJ) and Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel (JPPI). This was to have been the first Jewish-Muslim co-sponsored Congressional delegation to Palestine and Israel. The bi-partisan delegation planned to meet with Israeli and Palestinian peace activists, American and international humanitarian organizations, and U.S. government officials.
The delegation, which consisted of staffers from six Congressional offices along with three AMJ and JPPI representatives, attempted to enter from Jordan the Israeli-occupied West Bank via the Allenby Bridge. After five hours, Israeli security personnel informed the delegation that the Ministry of Interior refused entry to the six Congressional staffers and the two AMJ staff members. The JPPI staff member, who is a dual American and Israeli citizen, was not refused entry but chose to return to Jordan with the remainder of the delegation.
While Israeli authorities held the passports of all nine members of the delegation, an Israeli policeman, Alexander Frumin, implied that violence might be used against the Congressional staff delegation, indicating that the situation could lead to “blows.”
According to Josh Ruebner, co-founder of JPPI, “Members of Congress and the American people should be outraged by Israel’s refusal to admit a Congressional staff delegation. This unprecedented slap in the face to Members of Congress is Israel’s way of repaying the institution which gives it $3 billion of tax-payer money every year. What does Israel not want Congress to see?”
Congressional staffers requested that the U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem intervene on behalf of the delegation. They were informed that the Consulate would intervene for everyone but the two American Muslims on the delegation. Khalid Turaani, Executive Director of AMJ, stated “I am sickened that representatives of my government would condone Israel’s blatant ethnic and religious profiling. The State Department consistently has winked at Israel’s pattern of discrimination against and intimidation of American Muslims seeking to further peace and to provide humanitarian assistance to Palestinians suffering under Israel’s brutal military occupation.”