Sunday, October 21, 2012

The “Angry Arab” As’ad Abukhalil: The passport American?

The “Angry Arab” As’ad Abukhalil: The passport American? Did he lie to the immigration officer or to the millions watching Aljazeera?

 As an immigration attorney I helped a lot of people obtain American citizenship. While a green card holder has a lot of rights in the United States, the issue is an immigrant is not legally and politically secure until he becomes a US citizen.

One of the great things about America is its citizenship law- while it is relatively easy to become a US citizen it is very hard to lose the citizenship. Many countries in the world act as if they dispense their citizenship certificates from a gumball machine- they give it and take it whimsically. A person can go to bed a citizen and wake up stateless at the whim of the executive and his minions. This is not the case in the US.

                                                     A Citizen is a Citizen

America treats its naturalized citizens the same as its native born in almost all aspects with few exceptions such as eligibility to run for the office of the President of the United States. The US State department always intervenes to help American citizens who need help abroad even when they hold dual citizenship. The US government’s position is that a citizen is a citizen. This decent treatment of the naturalized is reciprocated with love and loyalty by the immigrants who know that this treatment is the exception in the world and not the rule. An immigrant becomes a citizen through the process of naturalization. One of the requirements is that a person be of good moral character. Also it requires that a person voluntarily and without reservation pledge allegiance to the US.

The Naturalization Oath reads: "I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."

 This is a much more elaborate and specific than The Pledge of Allegiance that native born Americans grow up affirming: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all.” To become a citizen one has to file the citizenship application, pay the fee and be interviewed. These are the oath requirements in the citizenship application: “H. Oath Requirements. . Do you understand the full Oath of Allegiance to the United States? . If the law requires it, are you willing to bear arms on behalf of the United States? . If the law requires it, are you willing to perform noncombatant services in the U.S. Armed Forces? . If the law requires it, are you willing to perform work of national importance under civilian direction? . Are you willing to take the full Oath of Allegiance to the United States?”

 This all came to mind when I watched As’ad Abukhalil’s interview with Aljazeera’s Elsy abi Assi on the program Zeyara Khassa/Private Visit. In that interview Abi Assi raised the issue of the American citizenship of Abukhalil. Abukhalil had earlier in the interview said that he was the subject of hate speech because he does not “brag” about his US citizenship. That’s fine- the law does not require you to be proud of your citizenship. But when later in the interview he was asked about his American citizenship (41:22 of the video) the following exchange occurred: *Abi Assi: But you hold the American citizenship? How do you deal with this subject? How do you introduce yourself? Do you self identify as an American? *Abukhalil: Legally I hold the US citizenship. I say to the Arab people that our tragedy is that this passport makes it easier for me to travel in the Arab world more than any Arab passport. This shows how the white man is treated by Arabs better than they treat each other.

                                                     The Lying Arab?

Without seeing the Abukhalil citizenship application I am sure that he expressed willingness to bear arms on behalf of the United States, willingness to perform noncombatant services in the U.S. armed forces and willingness to perform work of national importance under civilian direction. He did affirm all this under oath in writing and during the interview and without it he would not have become a US citizen. Abukhalil would not have obtained his citizenship if his interest in becoming a US citizen was of becoming a passport American as he affirmed to Abi Assi. The question remains: Did he lie on the citizenship application and to the immigration officer who interviewed him or to Aljazeera’s Abi Assi? *You can watch the Aljazeera interview on YouTube:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Demystifying the Mahr in the Islamic Marriage Agreement upon consideration of marriage

                                                       Mahr who?
 Courts struggle with the mahr provision that is a part of all Islamic marriage contracts. To be valid, an Islamic marriage has to have a mahr provision. The mahr can be anything from a book to a diamond ring or a certain amount of money. It is something of value that the man gives to the woman in return to her agreeing to marry him. If there is no mahr specified in the marriage contract, there is no Islamic marriage.

                                                       Mischaracterizing Mahr
 The courts have been all over the place over this issue. The questions asked have been: Is it a pre-nuptial agreement, is it a dowry, is it bride price or dower rights? It is none of the above. It’s not a pre-nuptial agreement since it is not designed to deal with property rights in the event the marriage ends. It is not a dowry since it is not the money or property that the woman brings into the marriage. It’s not bride price since the money or item of value exchanged is not given to the family of the bride. It’s not dower because dower is each spouse’s interest in the property of the other.

                                            Mahr: Consideration for the Marriage

 The mahr is simply the consideration for the woman agreeing to marry the man. Under established American law since this is a situation where the promise to marry or the actual marriage is the consideration for some promise other than an exchange promise to marry, this agreement has to be in writing to be enforceable. This agreement falls under the marriage provision of the Statute of Frauds. It has to be in writing. The usage of the word mahr makes the situation sound exotic and foreign. But the essence of the matter is far from unique. The American statute of frauds covers such situations, an exchange of promise to marry with something other than a return promise to marry.

                                                  The Not-so-Exotic Mahr

 Therefore the idea of the mahr should not be seen so novel and alien. There is no reason if this is the reality of the mahr that an American court of law should hesitate to enforce the promise. There is no need to read Islamic law treatises to understand this issue. It is not a religious issue. It’s agreement upon consideration of marriage. And if it’s in writing and meets the requirements of a valid contract under state law, a court should not hesitate to enforce it.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Treasury Department's special briefing on the designation of Hezbollah for supporting the Syrian regime Weak evidence of involvement beyond the rhetorical

 Recently the U.S. Treasury department held a special briefing on the designation of Hezbollah for supporting the Syrian regime. The briefing was held via teleconference on August 10. 2012. The conflict in Syria has raised many important questions. One question is whether the Lebanese group Hezbollah is actually fighting in Syria alongside the regime forces. Hezbollah has a substantial fighting force that could be very helpful to the embattled regime. It is evident that the group, despite its rhetorical support, has not deployed this fighting force to support the embattled regime. However, it is amply clear that Hezbollah has rhetorically vigorously supported the Syrian regime. This is evident from speeches of its leaders and the aggressive pro -regime coverage by its media outlets and the media outlets supported directly and indirectly by the group.

Treasury's briefing sought to argue that the support goes beyond the verbal. However, as evident from the exchanges with reporters from different media organizations, the government has not put out real evidence that Hezbollah is directly involved in the conflict in Syria. Therefore, it is doubtful that the U.S. government will be able to convince the public in the US or abroad that Hezbollah is providing more than rhetorical support to the Assad regime. Also, from the information put forth by Treasury it is also doubtful that the U.S. will be able to convince the EU to treat Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and end the distinction between the military and the political/social wings of the group. Below are excerpts from Treasury's brief as posted on its website.* The sub headings are mine.

 MR. SULLIVAN: Hello, everyone. This is John Sullivan. I’m the spokesman over at the Treasury Department. Today we’re going to discuss the designation of Hezbollah for their support to the Assad regime in Syria. On the line today I have Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen from the Treasury Department as well as Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, the Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the Department of State. UNDER SECRETARY COHEN: Thanks, John. Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us on the call today. Today the Treasury Department designated the terrorist group Hezbollah for providing support to the Government of Syria. This action highlights Hezbollah’s activities within Syria as well as its integral role in the continued violence being carried out by the Assad regime against the Syrian population. While today’s actions are focused on Hezbollah’s continuing support of the Syrian regime, it is certainly not the first time that Treasury or the United States has publicly exposed the violent acts of this terrorist organization. Hezbollah has been designated as a Global Terrorist by the United States since 1995 for a long history of terrorist attacks against American citizens and officials, including the bombing of the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks in Lebanon during the 1980s. Before al-Qaida’s attack on the U.S. on September 11, 2001, Hezbollah was responsible for killing more Americans in terrorist attacks than any other terrorist group. Hezbollah started out carrying out bombings and kidnappings in Lebanon but quickly expanded its violent campaign on to a global stage, carrying out and supporting terrorist attacks in South America, Southeast Asia, Europe, and various countries in the Middle East. More recently we have seen the group’s plotting disrupted in Azerbaijan, Egypt, Thailand, and Cyprus. Hezbollah and its leader Hassan Nasrallah have for years painted their organization as a social and political party as well as a resistance movement; however, their activities and statements clearly paint a different picture. Hezbollah has consistently used terrorist operations to attack civilians. Hezbollah’s members have engaged in criminal behavior, including profiting from the narcotics money-laundering scheme of the Lebanese Canadian Bank, which we exposed last year. And now Hezbollah is actively providing support to the Assad regime as it carries out its bloody campaign against the Syrian people. As the wave of revolt has spread across the Middle East, Hezbollah leadership has publicly supported some protests where it suited their needs, and in other cases, such as in Syria, it has actively supported the violent crackdown being carried out by the Syrian dictatorship. For years the Assad regime provided safe haven to Hezbollah training camps and routed weapons and money, in many cases, from Iran to Hezbollah operatives in Lebanon. Hezbollah is now repaying its debt to Assad by providing training, advice, and extensive logistical support to the Government of Syria. As the Assad regime continues to crack under international pressure and the continued success of the Syrian opposition, the Treasury Department and the entire U.S. Government will continue to work to expose the activities of Hezbollah and Iran and whoever else is responsible for assisting the Syrian regime in its campaign of violence against the Syrian population.

                                       Symbolic or real?
                             What about the EU and Hezbollah?

 Our first question comes from Josh Rogin of Foreign Policy. QUESTION: Thank you, gentlemen, for doing the call, and thank you for your service. I’d like to ask you: Since Hezbollah was already designated, and now we’re designating them for an additional reason, does that bring any additional punitive consequences to the group? Does it actually increase the pressure on them in any practical ways? If so, what are those ways? And Ambassador Benjamin, you mentioned that you’re hoping other countries will follow suit. Do you have any indication that any of these countries, especially the EU, will follow suit and designate Hezbollah? Do we have any reason to believe that’s going to happen? Thank you. AMBASSADOR BENJAMIN: Hi, Josh. I’ll take that one. It’s Dan Benjamin again. It’s always hard to predict if there’s going to be any near-term enforcement action on our own part, but I think that we have a responsibility – there’s been a lot of discussion about Hezbollah involvement in Syria. Here we have the U.S. Government going on the record and describing it, and I think that that is very important in its own right. Additionally, we feel that there needs to be a broader discussion in the international community about the activities of this group. It has portrayed itself, as David Cohen said, as a political party, as a resistance group, so on and so forth. It certainly doesn’t look to us like it’s sympathizing with the people of Syria. We have many partners in the international community who share the revulsion about what is going on in Syria. We believe that if they are presented with this information – and we will, of course, be following up diplomatically – that they may want to take additional measures. And over the long term, that will limit the amount of space that Hezbollah has to operate. It will put the group in a more difficult situation, and, I think, will make them think long and hard before they continue this campaign in which the Syrian people are being brutalized. So we do see very concrete benefits coming from this designation. Whether they will be in the area of financial sanctions or not remains to be seen, but in terms of casting a bright light on what the group is doing, I think that’s vitally important.

QUESTION: Okay. So there’s no actual additional punitive measures? AMBASSADOR BENJAMIN: So, well – David. UNDER SECRETARY COHEN: Yeah. Josh, as I think you know, when we designate under any of our IEEPA authorities, including the executive order that we’re acting under today, the legal effect is that it freezes the assets of the party being designated and prohibits any U.S. person from transacting with the designee. QUESTION: But they’re already frozen, right? UNDER SECRETARY COHEN: Josh, let me finish. The – Hezbollah has previously been designated. It is already a legal obligation for any U.S. person to freeze their assets and to refrain from any transactions with Hezbollah. But the purpose of our designations, whether it’s the Hezbollah action today or any of our other designations under our authorities, is not solely focused on the immediate financial impact, but as Ambassador Benjamin just expressed, to expose the activity of the party that is being designated for the conduct that has led to the designation. And so the designation of Hezbollah today and the information that underlies that designation that is part of our release today serves the very, very important purpose of making clear to parties around the world – both domestically and internationally – the true nature of Hezbollah’s activities. So that is the purpose of today’s action. Is Hezbollah in the field with the Syrian regime? OPERATOR: Our next question comes from Hisham Melhem of Al Arabiya.

QUESTION: Okay. You said that Hezbollah also has played a substantial role in efforts to expel senior opposition forces from areas within Syria. Are you saying essentially that Hezbollah is in the field fighting with the Syrian Government forces against Syrian opposition forces on Syrian soil? UNDER SECRETARY COHEN: I think what we’re saying is what we put forth in the paper itself, that Hezbollah is actively working to expel those forces. It is providing operational support to the Syrian Government in Syria.

QUESTION: Do you know whether there were Hezbollah casualties? We’ve seen from reports in Lebanon that there are suspicions that there were Hezbollah casualties fell in Syria. Can you substantiate that? UNDER SECRETARY COHEN: I think we’ve seen those reports as well, but I don’t have anything to add to that. What kind of support? OPERATOR: Our next question is from Eli Lake of Newsweek.

QUESTION: Hi. Thanks so much for doing this. So it’s really kind of three questions, but they’re quick. Can you provide any more detail on the kind of support – I know it’s sort of asked before – that Hezbollah is providing to Syria? And also, how do you avoid the problem of some European counterterrorism types say, which is that Hezbollah is so important in the Lebanese Government right now, so how do you target Hezbollah without ruining any U.S. diplomatic relations with Lebanon? UNDER SECRETARY COHEN: So I’ll take the first part of that and Ambassador Benjamin can take the second part. The – and the first part of it’s pretty easy, because I really can’t give you any greater detail than what we’ve put forward in the press release and in my statement this afternoon about the activities of Hezbollah in Syria. But as we note, it is a range of activity, including logistical support, operational support, to the Syrian Government in its violent crackdown. AMBASSADOR BENJAMIN: Yeah. And as for the second part, our view is that the repression of the Assad regime is intolerable, that we believe that there is a very high priority in exposing the support that Hezbollah has given to that group. I think that there will be other commentators who might say that Hezbollah is in an embarrassed position in Lebanon because of this activity, and we have never shied away, I think, from telling the truth about Hezbollah and we weren’t going to now. Where is the evidence for this? OPERATOR: Our next question is from Brad Klapper of AP.

QUESTION: Yes, Dan, you said you hope that other countries would follow suit after looking at the information that you’ve laid out here. But you don’t really provide too much evidence; you just kind of lay out claims that we’ve heard before. The fact that they’re – you say they’re assisting or abetting or facilitating training, these aren’t new. Where is the evidence for this? AMBASSADOR BENJAMIN: Well, first of all, what goes on in the discussions between governments may very well go beyond what is provided here to the public. That’s the first thing. The second thing is that the United States is standing by these charges. This is not a matter of idle speculation or press reports. This is based on a great deal of information gathering that we have done and we’ve synthesized and we’ve put it together in an authoritative document, and we believe that it will be taken seriously by many around the world. We can't talk about intelligence OPERATOR: Our next question is from Adam Entous of Wall Street Journal.

QUESTION: Yeah. Thank you very much. A question for both of you, maybe. Did Assad specifically ask Hezbollah to get involved? Is there any intelligence on that or whether the Iranians asked Hezbollah to jump in more so? We know that Hezbollah has had operational links with Syria for a long time, so how is actually this different from the involvement in the past? And is there any evidence to suggest that Hezbollah, in providing this assistance, is expecting anything in return? There’s been a lot of concern about Syrian WMD. I was hoping you guys could address those. UNDER SECRETARY COHEN: Well, I think your question sort of highlights what the answer is going to be. We can’t, obviously, talk about intelligence that may speak to whether Assad asked for Hezbollah to come in or not. But it is – it’s certainly true that there is a longstanding relationship between the Assad regime and Hezbollah. Hezbollah has benefitted greatly from its access to Syria for training camps and the like over the years, and as well as it being an important conduit for its support from Iran. So the fact that you have Hezbollah providing the type of support that it’s providing now to the Syrian Government alongside the Qods Force and the law enforcement forces from Iran and the MOIS as well is no surprise really, given the combined interests that those entities have in trying to prop up the Assad regime. But who asked whom to jump in to the fight there against the people of Syria is something that I can’t comment on directly.

QUESTION: As for the pursuit of maybe WMD – and maybe you can address the issue – I mean, our reporting from the region is more that Hezbollah has been sort of holding back; they have a lot more capabilities that they could be providing and they seem to not be providing that. Maybe that’s a reflection of their domestic Lebanese ambitions, that they don’t want to get too entangled in neighboring Syria. Is that what you’re seeing here? I think the surprise of many is that Hezbollah is not doing more. AMBASSADOR BENJAMIN: Doing more in the sense of providing WMD?

QUESTION: No. Sorry. Providing -- AMBASSADOR BENJAMIN: I’m not sure what your question --

QUESTION: Providing support to the Syrian Government. I mean, Hezbollah has – could do – could be much more involved than they have been. AMBASSADOR BENJAMIN: I’m not sure we would necessarily agree with that assessment. They are deeply involved. And if you watch Hassan Nasrallah’s speeches of late, I don't think that they’re being coy about their support for Syria. And anything on the relationship between Hezbollah and Syria regarding WMD would be either speculative or entirely irresponsible, so I don't think we should go there. 

* Link to briefing:
State department 2011 Israel Religious Freedom Report The American embassy in Tel Aviv "offered programs that exposed Israelis to U.S. models of religious diversity and civil society" Many Americans are said to feel an affinity for Israel due to the idea that Israel is a liberal democracy- just as the U.S. is. This is far from the truth. When the media reports on religious freedom in the Middle East, it usually focuses on Saudi Arabia and Iran. Israel, the country getting the most generous financial, political and diplomatic support from the U.S., falls far short of American expectations of what a country that is like us would be in matters of religious liberty and religious equality. In fact the report concludes with: "The embassy offered programs that exposed Israelis to U.S. models of religious diversity and civil society." Indeed. Does the American media know?* The following are edited excerpts from the State department's report. The headings are mine, Governmental and legal religious discrimination The country’s laws and policies protect religious freedom and, in practice, the government generally respected religious freedom… While there is no constitution, government policy contributed to the generally free practice of religion, although governmental and legal discrimination against non-Jews and non-Orthodox streams of Judaism continued. There were reports of societal abuses and discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice. Some individuals and groups were responsible for discriminatory practices against Israeli-Arab Muslims, Christians, and non-Orthodox Jews. Relations among religious and ethnic groups--between Jews and non-Jews, Muslims and Christians, Arabs and non-Arabs, secular and religious Jews, and among the different streams of Judaism--were strained. The U.S. government discussed religious freedom with the government as part of its overall policy to promote human rights. U.S. embassy officials maintained a dialogue with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) focusing on human and civil rights, including religious freedom, and encouraged religious leaders to advance regional peace and calm local tensions. Demographics The country has a population of 7.8 million (including settlers living in the Occupied Territories), of which 5.8 million are Jews; 1.6 million are Muslims and Christians; and 322,000 are classified as “other” --mostly persons from the former Soviet Union who immigrated under the Law of Return but did not qualify as Jews according to the Orthodox Jewish definition used by the government for civil procedures, although many identify themselves as Jewish. 30% Israeli Jews born outside Israel According to the 2009 report of the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), 8 percent of the Jewish population is Haredi (also known as “ultra-Orthodox”); 12 percent identify themselves as Orthodox; 13 percent describe themselves as “traditional, religious;” 25 percent say they are “traditional, not so religious;” and 42 percent describe themselves as “nonreligious/secular” Jews, most of whom observed some Jewish traditions. About 30 percent of the country’s Jewish population was born outside the country. Women's rights Government authorities prohibit mixed-gender prayer services at Jewish religious sites maintained by the Chief Rabbinate in deference to the belief of most Orthodox Jews that such services violate the precepts of Judaism. At the Western Wall, men and women must use separate areas to visit and pray. According to a policy repeatedly upheld by the Supreme Court, women are not allowed to conduct prayers at the Western Wall while wearing prayer shawls and are not permitted to read from Torah scrolls because this form of prayer by women violates Orthodox interpretations of Jewish law. There is a separate prayer area along the Western Wall, south of the Mughrabi Gate where women may read the Torah and pray wearing prayer shawls. Modesty patrols The signs posted around the Western Wall plaza requesting gender segregation throughout the plaza, rather than just at the prayer areas, were removed in 2010. Official “modesty patrols” occasionally attempted to enforce gender separation and guarded the path designated for “men only” that was installed in 2009 opposite the Western Wall. According to the government-appointed Rabbi of the Western Wall, the path was created for those who asked to be able to get to the Western Wall plaza without having to walk through a mixed-gender area. Bedouin mosques subject to demolition The approximately 60,000 Bedouin living in unrecognized villages were unable to build or legally maintain mosques as a result of longstanding government policy to deny ownership claims, building requests, and municipal services in unrecognized, illegally established Bedouin communities. Mosques existed in unrecognized Bedouin communities, but, as with homes and other community structures, the government considered them illegal and therefore subject to demolition. Denial of entry on account of suspected missionary activity There were reports of abuses of religious freedom, including religious detainees. Some tourists were temporarily detained for religious reasons at Ben-Gurion Airport, prevented from entering the country, and sent back to their countries of origin because of the MOI’s “suspicions of missionary activity,” as explained to them by the border control officials at the airport. There are no clearly publicized regulations as to how the MOI places a person on the watch list or on what grounds, but the questioning of such individuals often relates to their religious beliefs. While proselytism is officially legal, some missionaries continued to face harassment and discrimination from local government officials. For example, the MOI detained individuals suspected of being “missionaries” upon arrival at the airport and required such persons to post bail and pledge to abstain from missionary activity. At times government officials also have refused entry into the country to persons they perceived as missionaries. Both recognized and unrecognized religious communities experienced some difficulties receiving clergy visas for their representatives and leaders. Discriminatory religious edicts About 50 prominent rabbis, led by Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, published a religious ruling in December 2010 that prohibited the sale or rental of real estate to non-Jews and called for the exclusion from religious gatherings of any Jewish person who broke the ruling. Despite widespread criticism of the Halachic ruling, the justice minister did not suspend Eliyahu from his post as a municipal rabbi. All of the signatories’ salaries were paid by the government, including dozens of chief rabbis of cities across the country. The attorney general had not decided whether the signatories could be prosecuted for incitement by year’s end. The NGO Lehava, an acronym for “Preventing Assimilation in the Holy Land,” which also means “flame,” initiated a campaign in January to distribute “kosher certificates” to employers who purposefully avoided employing Arab workers. The certificates included the declaration: “This certificate certifies that the following employer employs Jewish workers and does not employ enemies.” During the year members of Jehovah’s Witnesses reported assaults, threats of violence, and other crimes and noted the difficulties their members faced in convincing the police to investigate or apprehend the perpetrators. On August 13, in Holon, approximately 15 Haredi men disrupted a religious meeting held at a sports hall and one of them punched a member of the community. However, after police questioned the attacker, authorities only gave him a restraining order. Spitting on "immodestly dressed" 8 year old girl Expressions of animosity between secular and religious Jews continued during the year. Some members of Haredi Jewish groups acted in a discriminatory and intolerant manner toward other Jews. As in past years, there were instances of Haredim throwing rocks at passing motorists driving on the Sabbath in predominantly Haredi neighborhoods, and harassing or assaulting women whose appearance they considered immodest. On December 27, a group of Haredi men jeered and spat upon an eight-year-old girl they believed was dressed immodestly while she walked to her Orthodox school in Beit Shemesh. There continued to be reports of numerous instances of Haredi men spitting at non-Haredi Jews and persons of different faiths, including in Jerusalem’s Old City. Exposing Israel to the US model of religious diversity The U.S. government discussed religious freedom with the government as part of its overall policy to promote human rights. The U.S. embassy consistently raised concerns about religious freedom with the MFA, the police, and other government agencies. Embassy officials maintained a dialogue with NGOs that focused on human and civil rights, including religious freedom, and promoted interfaith initiatives. Embassy representatives also attended and spoke at meetings of such organizations and encouraged religious leaders to advance regional peace and calm local tensions. The embassy offered programs that exposed Israelis to U.S. models of religious diversity and civil society. *The full report can be accessed at: