How strange that on Aug. 2 The Post should run a column -- "Some Americans Don't Seem Welcome in Israel" -- by Jack Anderson and Dale Van Atta rehashing and overstating old complaints about Israel's treatment of visiting Arab and black Americans when on July 20 the paper had reported the adoption by Israel of new corrective measures that are not even mentioned in the column.
Messrs. Anderson and Van Atta accuse Israel of "discriminating on the basis of race, color and creed" against Arab and black Americans because upon arrival some of them were searched, detained, denied entry or required to post bonds or deposit their passports until departure. This is preposterous.
Unlike the United States, which carefully screens Israeli and other prospective tourists prior to their departure, Israel does not require American tourists to obtain visas in advance and must therefore screen them upon arrival. Since more than 2,000 Arab Americans have taken advantage of Israel's liberal admission policy to take up residency illegally, posing an obvious security risk, Israeli officials have been forced to take measures to foil further such attempts.
Similarly, more than 1,000 black Americans belonging to the "Black Hebrews" cult, which claims exclusive right to the land of Israel, have entered the country posing as tourists and then renounced their U.S. citizenship and remained as illegal residents. In trying to thwart this unacceptable practice, Israeli officials have erroneously detained a number of black Americans unrelated to the "Black Hebrews."
Clearly, then, these unfortunate incidents at Israeli ports of entry -- whose total number barely reached 120 out of the 130,000 American tourists entering Israel last year -- had everything to do with legitimate Israeli concerns and nothing to do with racism. Nonetheless, following American complaints the Israelis have now adopted unprecedented new procedures, including close liaison with the American Embassy, to deal with such cases in the future. The column's failure to mention this important development, which the State Department has termed "encouraging," is incomprehensible.
In previous writings about the Mideast, Messrs. Anderson and Van Atta have usually exhibited good judgment and a commendable sense of balance. It is to be hoped that this column is no more than a one-time aberration. PHIL BAUM Director RAPHAEL DANZIGER Assistant Director, American Jewish Congress Washington