Sign for newly opened Jordan border in 1994 370 (R).
(photo credit: Jim Hollander / Reuters)
Jordanian tour guides hosting Israeli tourists should advise them not to wear
kippas or other clothing that will signal they are Jewish, or take part in
Jewish religious rites publicly while in the country, according to a letter sent
by the Jordanian Tourism Ministry and Antiquities to tour guides in the country
First reported on in the Jordanian paper Al-Arab al-Youm, the
letter reportedly was the result of complaints made to the ministry about the
behavior of Israeli tourists at archeological sites and elsewhere in Jordan. The
letter was sent out to Jordanian tour guides who host Israelis, as many tour
guides in the country, which is more than 70 percent Palestinian, refuse to do
business with Israeli tourists.
Though the letter was a news item on
Israeli websites on Wednesday, according to Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal
Palmor, these complaints have been around for many years.
there were some Israelis who would go to different holy sites of one sort or
another and put on tefillin and start praying and you can understand for someone
who has never seen a Jew before or this ritual this could be shocking, it could
cause a disturbance and people could act badly.”
Palmor said they know of
a number of incidents in which disturbances and violence broke out after Israeli
Jews who had traveled to Jordan began laying on tefillin and praying in public
places. He said eventually the Jordanian authorities adopted a procedure of
asking incoming Israeli tourists if they are carrying tefillin, and holding them
for them at the border crossing until they leave the country.
Israelis to keep coming to their country and enjoying themselves, without any
harm coming to them.”
He added that he doesn’t see it as representing any
sort of discrimination towards Jews or infringement on freedom of
A similar assessment was given by Yossi Fischer, deputy
chairman of the Incoming Tourism Unit of the Travel Agents Association, who said
that he’d heard about the letter, which he said he sees as solely an effort to
ensure the safety of Israeli visitors to Jordan.
“The Jordanians are
great hosts and protecting guests is part of their culture as
Beduin. That said, Jordanian security can’t be in all places at all times
to protect people.”