Biden’s ‘violent settler’ Israeli visa ban would bar those who simply disagree with his terrible policies

T. Belman. In effect, Biden is banning people who oppose the TSS.

By Eugene Kontorovich, NY POST    Dec 17/23

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has announced visa restrictions on Israelis in response to “settler violence.”

Britain and Belgium plan to follow suit, and other European Union countries will likely jump on the blacklist bandwagon.

The United States frequently uses such visa restrictions to block those guilty of gross human-rights abuses, tyrannical foreign despots and nationals of state sponsors of terrorism.

But this is a far cry from that — it’s simply a big step in the Obama-Biden administrations’ deep delegitimization of those who oppose a “two-state solution.”

The president has broad power to deny entry to foreign nationals — despite the furor over President Donald Trump’s executive orders in this area.

Barring those guilty of crimes is certainly an excellent reason for exclusion, and the Biden administration should enforce such limits far more vigorously at the porous southern border, where millions are coming from the world’s most violent countries.

But the new “violent settler” ban is in fact not about settlers or even violence.

It is instead a vastly vague prohibition that gives the administration discretion to exclude Israelis whose mere beliefs, place of residence or religious practices don’t comport with the Bidenites’ foreign-policy views.

The administration can ban anyone “involved in undermining of peace, security or stability in the West Bank.”

The restrictions are not limited to criminal or violent acts.

Team Biden considers Jews living in the West Bank — especially building or buying homes there — an “obstacle to peace,” despite the US position that such communities are not illegal.

The administration has even called visits of Jews to their holy sites “provocative.”

By such standards, a Jew merely building a house or engaging in prayer at holy sites in Judea and Samaria could be “undermining peace” and subject to banning.

Indeed, a memo from President Biden before the ban was issued described it as partly targeted at those who “disrupt or prevent efforts to achieve a two-state solution,” which could make disagreement with the Democratic Party grounds for visa denial.

The policy says nothing about how such alleged peace-underminers will be identified nor what kind of evidence can be used.

The State Department draws its allegations on “settler violence” unquestioningly from reports by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, a United Nations agency known for its hostility to Israel, which in turn appears to adopt uncritically allegations by foreign-government-funded anti-Israel groups and Palestinian activists.

In short, the State Department may be outsourcing US border policy to anti-Israel organizations just two months after the greatest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.

The policy will put many Israelis in fear of being barred from America simply because of their nonviolent, noncriminal conduct.

Others may be banned for using force in self-defense, which also shows up as “settler violence” in UN reports.

By contrast, the administration this year lifted visa restrictions on those who provide material support to terrorism “indirectly.”

Team Biden has been ratcheting up its rhetoric about alleged growing settler violence.

Yet according to Israeli police data, in October there were no “serious incidents” by Israelis and only 97 total incidents, primarily vandalism and property crime.

All these get lumped together under the ominous label “settler violence.”

Palestinian terrorists from the West Bank alone have murdered 31 Israelis in 2023. It’s not clear if any Palestinians have been murdered by Israeli civilians this year.

Any Israeli crimes against Palestinians should be prosecuted, but to elevate property crimes and hooliganism to the kind of systemic governmental human-rights abuses that typically result in visa sanctions is gross, especially after Oct. 7.

The administration claims it will apply its standard evenhandedly to West Bank Israelis and Palestinians. But it’s already clear this is not the case.

The Palestinian Authority funds a systematic system of what US law describes as “incentive to commit acts of terror.”

This surely “undermines peace,” which should result in the policy applying to the entire leadership.

Yet so far only “settlers” have been blacklisted.

Perhaps one should call it a Jew ban.

Pulling out the visa-restriction tool in the wake of Oct. 7 is a form of moral equivalence, of “bothsidesism.”

The policy may be an attempt to appease the progressive base, including State Department staffers who want a cease-fire that would allow Hamas to survive.

It comes at the expense of moral clarity, equitable administration of the law and intelligible visa policy.

Eugene Kontorovich is the director of the Center for the Middle East and International Law at George Mason University Scalia Law School.

December 18, 2023 | Comments »

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