New York, NY, January 23, 2006 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called on the Jordanian government to reconsider its policy of refusing entry to religious Jewish tourists carrying prayer shawls and other religious items. In the latest incident, on January 18, a group of eight Israeli tourists was barred from entering the country after an inspection at the border crossing revealed prayer shawls and phylacteries (teffilin).
"We are extremely troubled by reports that Jordan is refusing entry to religious Jews for apparent security reasons," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "While we appreciate the concern the Jordanian government may have for the safety of these tourists, it is discriminatory not to allow individuals into Jordan on the basis of their apparent religious observance."
In a letter to Foreign Minister Abdelelah Ilah Khatib about this most recent episode, the League said it had never received a response after first bringing the policy to the attention of officials at the Jordanian Embassy last year.
In a July 7, 2005 letter to Rauf Sulyman Bahit, the Jordanian Ambassador in Tel Aviv, ADL expressed concern about an incident on June 22 at the Arava border crossing, where two men carrying prayer shawls and phylacteries were informed by Jordanian officials that they were not permitted to cross the border with religious articles. The border inspector also told one of the men that he would have to remove his tzizit (ritual fringes worn under a man's shirt) before crossing.
The two men, including a journalist who later recounted the incident to ADL, explained to the border inspectors that the religious articles would only be used within the privacy of their hotel room. The border inspector refused to accommodate the man, and they crossed the border after leaving their religious articles on the Israeli side.