'Religious' Israelis banned from Jordan

8 Israelis denied entry into Jordan after border officials find talit and tefilin in bag.

flag 88 (photo credit: )
flag 88
(photo credit: )
If you look like a religious Jew, forget about touring Petra. In fact, if you have a kippa, side-curls, or tzitzit dangling outside your pants, forget about going anywhere in Jordan since the Jordanians - because of security concerns - are barring entry to anyone who looks, well, too Jewish. Eight Israelis who wanted to go scuba-diving in Aqaba were turned away at the border because Jordanian customs officials found tefilin and tallitot (prayer shawl) in their bags. One of the tourists, Yoram Cohen, told Army Radio Wednesday that once the Jordanian border officials realized that they were religious they were banned entry. "During the border check the Jordanians found tefilin in our bags. When they asked what it was, we said we were religious," said Cohen. "At that moment they said 'ok, go home.' "On the Israeli side we were informed that they don't let religious people through," he said. While an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman could not confirm the details of that particular report, he did say that Israel has been "holding a dialogue" with the Jordanians about this overall issue. According to the official, the Jordanians maintain that people who look obviously Jewish or Israeli are targets for terrorists. The official said that although Israel understands the Jordanian security concerns, the symbolism of turning away someone because of a beard, side-curls, kippa or black-garb is "problematic." He said there have been reports of haredim who have not been allowed into Jordan. Sixty-three people were killed in three suicide bombing attacks in hotels in Amman on November 9, one of them an Israeli Arab. Based on "concrete information" of plans to attack Israeli and tourist targets in the country, the Foreign Ministry in August issued a travel advisory against going to Jordan. That warning is still in effect. Al-Qaida in Iraq took responsibility for the attack.