Nearly 30 Arab-American groups asked Condoleezza Rice to press Israel to lift restrictions on the entry of Arab Americans.
A letter to the U.S. secretary of state claims that Israel is violating a 1951 treaty with the United States that guarantees unhindered passage to the citizens of both countries by denying entry to some Arab Americans and imposing burdensome conditions on others.
"This is not a matter for negotiation, nor should it be seen as part of the broader issue of a Middle East peace process," says the letter sent last Friday. "This is about our right to be treated as fully protected American citizens."
The letter was spearheaded by the Arab American Institute and the Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
In a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, Arab American Institute President James Zogby said his group and others have received a sympathetic response over the decades when raising the problem with U.S. officials, but nothing effectively changes.
"They do not recognize and respect our American citizenship," Zogby said of Israel. "The burden is on our government that these rights be respected."