Israelis at Dubai conference were ‘well treated’

Despite visa rejections, three cardiologists lecturing at Dubai conference say they were treated well.

illustrative heart 311 (photo credit: San Jose Mercury News/MCT)
illustrative heart 311
(photo credit: San Jose Mercury News/MCT)
The three Israeli cardiologists who lectured at a Dubai conference of the World Heart Federation a few weeks ago said that they were “treated well” by the United Arab Emirates authorities, even though over a dozen of their peers who were expected to participate but not speak were not given a visa at the last minute.
Prof. Sami Viskin, the director of cardiology at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, said Sunday that the three cardiologists were allowed to leave the hotel and even given VIP tours of the city by a “friendly escort.”
He added, however, that he objected to the fact that the other Israelis who were invited by the federation were not told until the day before their scheduled departure that the Dubai authorities had not given them a visa.
Sourasky director-general Prof. Gabi Barbash, who also attended, agreed that he and his two colleagues had been treated well by the Dubai authorities.
Last week, The Jerusalem Post quoted Prof. Chaim Lotan, who heads the Israel Heart Society and the cardiology department at Hadassah University Medical Center, as saying that the three cardiologists who were there were “confined to their hotel” and that “their passports were confiscated” while they were there. Lotan did not attend the event because there was an Israeli conference the same week, but he was involved in the arrangements for his colleagues.
Yet Prof. Jacob Pe’er, the chief of ophthalmology at the Hadassah University Medical Center said that in February, there was an international congress in his field in February in which Israelis were “badly treated.”
Pe’er was one of the original organizers as a board member of the International Council of Ophthalmology.
Israel and its flag were not included anywhere. Five Israeli specialists were allowed to attend, but they felt like “thieves.”
“They were limited in their movements and had guards at all times,” Pe’er said.
He felt so uncomfortable about how Israelis were handled before the conference convened that he canceled his trip and resigned from the International Council of Ophthalmology board.
“I am not willing to cooperate with discrimination against Israelis,” he stated. “International medical and scientific conferences must be open to all; regional ones as in Arab countries are entitled to invite whom they please.”