AAF Writes to Congressman Smith: Treatment of American Citizens by Israel

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September 14, 2012

Congressman Chris Smith
Washington DC Office
2373 Rayburn H.O.B.
Washington, D.C. 20515
Via fax: 202-225-7768
Via email: caitlin.ross@mail.house.gov

Dear Congressman Smith:

I write today in support of H.R. 6292, “Justice for Imprisoned Americans Overseas Act” or “Jacob’s Law.” American citizens should not lose their basic rights at our shores. It is imperative other countries recognize that there is a price to pay if they mistreat American citizens. We recognize your specific motivation for this bill, the sad story of Mr. Ostreicher who languishes in a Bolivian jail.

While we laud your leadership on this front, we wish to bring to your attention an ongoing harassment policy awaiting American citizens who travel to Israel. I, like thousands of fellow citizens over the last two decades, have been a victim of this degrading and totally offensive treatment. I would be happy to publicly share my experience.

We look forward to the passage of H.R. 62692 because it will add teeth to our declared policy of intolerance towards mistreatment of American citizens. Over the years, we have brought this matter to the attention of the US State Department who could only promise to bring the matter to their regular dealings with their Israeli counterparts. We have seen no appreciable change in the treatment of our citizens while traveling to or in Israel. Your honorable decision to elevate the concern of our government (and the subsequent penalties thereof) is a most welcome endeavor. Other countries will be sure to take notice.

We believe the bill should include specific references to the plight of American citizens, some of whom endure abusive and degrading treatment simply because of their ethnic background. We are ready for testimonies, written and oral- by American citizens who are victims of this abusive Israeli policy. I would like very much to discuss the details of these stories and perhaps encourage you to incorporate them in the testimonies and the expected debates over your bill.

To this end, I look forward to talking to you further about this important bill and hopefully render the bill inclusive and protective of all American citizens.
You may contact me at aref@aafusa.org or my cell, 973-960-2673. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Dr. Aref Assaf

PresidentAmerican Arab Forum

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