Interior Ministry apologizes for 'intolerable treatment' of NY tourist at gov't office.
By RUTH EGLASH
After growing up in New York, Gene Maltsev is no stranger to rude behavior, even from government bureaucrats. But the 26-year-old businessman will not quickly forget his agonizing experience one day last month at the Interior Ministry in Jerusalem.
"I've never been dealt with so rudely and unapologetically in my life," Maltsev, who was only attempting to renew his tourist visa, recounted to The Jerusalem Post over the weekend.
"Being from New York, I've met many rude people, believe me, but this has far surpassed anything I've ever experienced," continued Maltsev, who in less than a few hours at the government office had to argue his way into the building, had a door slammed in his face and was eventually given an appointment for six days after his visa was due to expire.
"I've never had a door slammed in my face before. That kind of treatment is completely inhumane," he exclaimed.
Maltsev's Interior Ministry snafu actually started a week earlier, when he first arrived at the office to renew the visa. The guard immediately turned him away, telling him that an appointment had to be arranged in advance by phone.
"It turns out that you can only make an appointment once a week between the hours of 8-12 on a Sunday, but upon my attempt to do so, I found out that the phone lines were always busy and it was impossible to get through," he said.
Realizing that he would not be able to reach anyone by phone, Maltsev returned to the offices the following week, explaining to the guard that his attempts to make an appointment had been futile.
"He eventually allowed me upstairs, where I was directed to another room to schedule an appointment for extending my stay," remembered Maltsev. "When I got to the room, I knocked politely and proceeded to ask if I was in the right area, but the person who had opened the door instantaneously slammed it in my face, without allowing me to even finish my sentence."
At a loss, Maltsev waited outside the room, after being informed by someone else that the one person available to make appointments to renew tourist visas was on her lunch break.
"Once she returned," he continued, "I found out that the appointment-setter was the same person who had almost taken my face off with the door. So I sat down in front of her and said that I would like to make an appointment to extend my visa before its expiration. I explained that my visa was due to expire in four weeks.
"Without asking any questions, I was given a pink slip with a date on it and told to come back then, but I noticed that the date was six days past my visa expiration," he went on. "I attempted to tell her that, but was rudely yelled at with the words, 'Goodbye!'"
A month later, Maltsev said he did manage to obtain the visa, and the experience had not deterred him from considering making aliya in the future.
"I just think the whole system is ridiculous," he finished.
In response, an Interior Ministry spokeswoman said that the office was sorry for Maltsev's "intolerable treatment."
"We are constantly doing all we can to improve services for everyone," she said, highlighting that there were several alternative methods for contacting the ministry to make appointments, such as via the Internet or by fax.
"Unfortunately, the summer months bring increased requests, and we are doing all we can to keep the level of service as high as possible," continued the spokeswoman, adding that Maltsev's specific case had been forwarded to the relevant body for further investigation.
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