Jordanian border security officers are again harassing Jews entering the country who are carrying items for religious observance.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) called on Jordan’s King Abdullah to ensure Jews arriving to or transiting through the Kingdom of Jordan will stop facing harassment from border officials for carrying their prayer shawls and phylacteries (Tallit and Tefillin) in their luggage.
“The Jewish human rights NGO received “numerous complaints of harassment, attempted confiscations by Jordanian officials of these basic religious items that millions of Jews don each morning during their prayers,” Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said Tuesday in a joint statement.
This is not the first time Jordanian officials have stopped Jews from entering the country with religious items.
Seven Israeli insurance agents were detained this past May at the Yitzhak Rabin border terminal, at Israel’s southern border with Jordan, because they were carrying tefillin in their personal luggage. After examining their belongings, Jordanian officials ordered the seven, who were part of a group of about 40 agents, not to bring the tefillin into the country.
In response, the Israeli travelers decided to cancel their visit.
Two months later — this past July — a group of 15 Orthodox Jewish tourists were denied entry into Jordan via the Yitzhak Rabin Border Terminal, just three kilometers (two miles) north of Eilat, Israel Hayom reported.
“A group of haredi Israelis were not allowed into Jordan because of disruptive behavior at the border crossing to Jordan in response to Jordan’s refusal to allow them to bring food with them,” the Israel Airports Authority said in a statement.
The Jordanians on duty at the border crossing told the group that only after they cut off their peyot would they be allowed into the country, according to Kikar HaShabbat writer and photographer Haim Goldberg. “I’m with a group of haredim who are stuck at the Jordanian border, and what’s happening here is delusional,” he said.
“”We arrived at the crossing on time, but the moment the Jordanians picked up we were Jewish, the trouble started. The Jordanians are trying to ask people to cut off their peyot (sidelocks). Everyone here is undergoing humiliating searches while those who don’t look Jewish are allowed to cross without any problem,” Goldberg said.
“Security officials the world over know that these holy items pose no security threat whatsoever. Some travelers have reported they were told that it is illegal to bring these holy items into Jordan,” the Simon Wiesenthal Center said in the statement.
“As you know, Your Majesty, the SWC had a warm and ongoing friendship with your late father, His Majesty King Hussein. Indeed, in 1995, he was the first Arab head of state to visit our Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, and we visited with him and in Amman.
“Your Majesty, an SWC delegation also had the honor to visit with you at the royal palace in Amman in 2005 and presented a special award to you for “standing on the side of human dignity and mutual respect.
We now ask, Your Majesty, to ensure that Jordanian officials at your nation’s borders live up to those standards.”
SWC reached out to the Jordanian Ambassador in Washington, DC but there was no response.
Are we surprised?