WASHINGTON (Jul. 19)
Moshe Arad, Israel’s new Ambassador to the United States, arrived in Washington this week amidst the growing controversy over complaints by Palestinian and Black Americans that they have been experiencing difficulties in entering Israel.
State Department spokesman Charles Redman said Thursday that another expression of “serious concern” would be made to the Israel Embassy here Friday. However, the complaint was not to be made to Arad, since he does not officially take up his post until he presents his credentials to President Reagan sometime soon.
Arad, who comes to the U.S. from Mexico, where he was the Israeli envoy, paid a courtesy call Thursday on Richard Murphy, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs.
The 52-year-old career diplomat was appointed Ambassador after a six-month dispute between Premier Yitzhak Shamir and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres about who should replace Meir Rosenne, who ended his four-year tour of duty in Washington June 1.
75 COMPLAINTS REPORTED
Redman said Thursday that about 40 Arab Americans and 35 Black Americans had complained that they were denied entry or had their passports confiscated this summer. Blacks have been turned away because of suspicion that they are Black Hebrews, according to Israeli spokesmen.
“We have continued to express our deep concern to Israel about discriminatory, arbitrary treatment of some American citizens,” Redman said.
He said Israel has been asked for “assurances” that the problem will be “resolved promptly. The United States believes strongly that all American citizens are entitled to equal treatment under the laws of foreign countries regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background.”
When he was asked whether the U.S. had ever complained to Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia, which bar American Jews, Redman said he didn’t know. He also would not confirm reports that the U.S. is threatening to issue a travel advisory warning Palestinian and Black Americans that they might face harassment in going to Israel. The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and Consulate in Jerusalem have reportedly urged that the advisory be issued.
Redman, however, indicated that an official warning might not be necessary. “I think the problem has been publicized,” he said. Redman noted that a similar problem last summer was cleared up after the U.S. complained.