Over a dozen Israeli cardiologists who had been invited to a Dubai conference of
the World Heart Federation – attended by 12,000 heart specialists last week –
were denied a visa by authorities at the last minute.
Only a couple of
Israelis – one from the Rabin Medical Center and the other from Tel Aviv’s
Sourasky Medical Center – who had been invited to lecture at the conference were
allowed to attend and did so.
The Jerusalem Post learned on Tuesday that
the would-be participants – Jews and Arabs – paid $3,000 each for their flights,
visas, hotels and attendance at the conference.
Dr. Abed Khaskia of the
cardiology department at Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba said he was told that
only if someone else occupied his room would he get $500 back but that he would
not be reimbursed for the rest of the money. He blamed the Geneva-based World
Heart Federation, which he said had promised to send a visa two weeks before the
event, for the problem.
There was no discrimination between Jewish and
Arab Israelis, said Prof. Chaim Lotan, head of cardiology at Hadassah University
Medical Center, who had been involved in negotiations with the federation but
did not attend because the Israel Heart Society had its own conference here
during the same week.
Lotan told the Post
that he was promised the
federation would do all it could to ensure that all Israelis – participants as
well as lecturers – be given a visa to enter Dubai.
“Those who actually
did attend did not have an easy time,” Lotan said. “They weren’t allowed to
leave the hotel, and their visas were held during their visit. Apparently, the
government of Dubai did not want Israelis there.”