Thursday, February 23, 2012
U.S. refuses to grant visa to Israeli MK Michael Ben Ari
National Union MK Michael Ben Ari believes he was barred from U.S. for being a member of far-right Kach organization
The U.S. government refused to grant a visa to National Union MK Michael Ben Ari, on the basis of his membership in a "terror organization."
Ben Ari recently submitted a request to the U.S. consulate for a visa, so he could take part in two conferences held in the United States this week, one aimed at encouraging aliyah to Israel.
In response, however, he was told that he cannot be granted the visa based on a clause that allows the U.S. State Department to prohibit the entrance of people who were involved in terror activities or were members of a terror organization in a foreign country. Ben Ari believes that the U.S. government is referring to his membership in the Kach movement, a far-right political movement that is considered a terror organization in Israel, Canada, the European Union, and the United States.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin expresses anger over the decision to prohibit a Knesset member from entering the U.S.
In a letter addressed to the U.S. ambassador in Israel, Daniel Shapiro, Rivlin wrote, "I would like to express my protest against the decision and request that it be reconsidered."
"Mr. Ben Ari is a Knesset member who represents the National Union party, an entirely legitimate party in the Israeli parliament. As a public official in Israel, a close ally of the U.S., he cannot be recognized as a member of a terror group or be prohibited from visiting the U.S.," Rivlin wrote.
Ben Ari said in response to the decision, "The U.S. government, who receives with open arms [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, who calls for the destruction of Israel, [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas, who planned the murder of children in Jerusalem, and [Israeli Arab MK] Ahmed Tibi, who enthusiastically encourages shahids, chose to bar me from meeting with Jewish communites in the U.S. and to encourage aliyah to Israel, with claims that I am a terrorist. Now it is clear that the American blindness that cannot differentiate who is a terrorist threatening world peace, is what brought about the horrible terror attacks of September 11."