Latest update: March 26th, 2014
“Saudi Arabia cannot have it both ways,” Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center exclaimed, regarding the decision to exclude a Jewish American reporter for an Israeli paper from entering the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
As reported late yesterday, on Monday, March 24, Saudi Arabia denied a visa to the White House correspondent for the Jerusalem Post. That reporter, Michael A. Wilner, is not Israeli and he has never lived in Israel.
Initial reports about the incident hinted at, then later there was public confirmation, that the U.S. administration was “deeply disappointed” about the decision to exclude the Jewish American journalist.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the U.S. national security adviser and a special assistant to the president both made requests of the Saudi ambassador to the United States that Wilner be granted a visa; those requests were rebuffed.
But expressing “deep disappointment” does not begin to cover what the U.S. administration needs to do, according to Hier.
Rabbi Hier called on either President Obama or Secretary of State John Kerry to issue a public statement denouncing the discriminatory treatment of the Jewish American reporter, and explaining the consequences.
“I think the U.S. must say, bluntly, to the Saudis, ‘You can’t have it both ways, you cannot claim to be the source of an important Middle East peace initiative, the Saudi Peace Plan, and at the same time declare that your own country is Juden Verboten,’” Hier told The Jewish Press by telephone from Dubai.
“The leadership of this administration is certainly not reluctant to publicly call out the Israeli government on actions it takes with which the U.S. disagrees, such as constructing homes in Jerusalem,” Hier pointed out. “Of course this administration cannot quietly accept with mere “deep disappointment” when an American citizen is discriminated against because of his religion.”
“Saudi Arabia is effectively banning the entry into their country of 98 percent of all Jews. Other than Jewish haters of Israel – that’s why I’m saying 98 percent of all Jews – all Jews are connected to Israel, despite differences in politics and denominational affiliation.
“What Saudi Arabia is doing is pure anti-Semitism. The United States must not accept such a position. And it certainly cannot recognize that country as a source of a legitimate Middle East peace plan,” Hier explained.
Today’s report in the Jerusalem Post included a statement from U.S. National Security Council Spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan, “We are deeply disappointed that this credible journalist was denied a visa.”
“We will continue to register our serious concerns about this unfortunate decision,” was the extent of the promised future action by the U.S. government.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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