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US Still Stonewalling MK Ben Ari on Visa

MK Ben Ari says that US officials continue to refuse his application for a visa saying his safety is a concern; he says it's politics.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 2/21/2012, 11:00 PM

MK Michael Ben Ari
MK Michael Ben Ari
Flash 90

MK Dr. Michael Ben Ari (National Union) has been waiting for a visa to visit the United States for some time, but the State Department refuses to issue him one.

This is despite pressure from Israel's Foreign Ministry to allow Ben Ari to visit the US in order to attend conferences, including one slated to start in New York on Wednesday.

It has been widely speculated that the US refusal was based on Ben Ari's affiliation with the late Rabbi Meir Kahane and his banned Kahane Hai party.

However, Ben Ari told Arutz Sheva on Tuesday that the US embassy claims his visa remains held up due to fears for his safety, adding he believes the real reason is good old-fashioned politics.

"The excuse given by American officials is pathetic," Ben Ari said. "This is not because of concern for my safety, but because officials there abhor me and Rabbi Kahane."

"Every conversation I have with the Embassy - time and time again - focuses on whether I am affiliated with Kach [acronym for Kahane Hai] and my friendship with 'extremists' Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben Gvir," he added. The two are also Kach members.

"Strangely, MKs Ahmed Tibi and Haneen Zoabi who hobnob with known terrorists are allowed to travel across the USA, coast to coast, but I am prevented from doing this for the same reason," Ben Ari said.

Ahmed Tibi was once a personal adviser to PLO arch-terrorist Yassir Arafat. Both Tibi and Zoabi have advocated Israel's destruction and appeared in photos of celebrations held by known Hamas terrorists in recent months. Zoabi sailed on the SS Mavi Marmara, part of the Gaza flotilla.

"We live in a world turned upside down," Ben Ari went on. "To the Americans I am a 'terrorist,' but those who aid and abet terrorist murders are 'men of peace' eligible to receive a visa."

"With these kinds of attitudes in the Obama administration's it’s no wonder Arab terrorists feel the United States is home befoe they go out to blow up buildings and bring destruction," Ben Ari added.

The US Embassy told Arutz Sheva, "US law prohibits the disclosure of information about people's visa to third parties. As a result, we are not allowed to address the details of this matter."

Rabbi Meir Kahane was assassinated in a Manhattan hotel by an Arab gunman in November 1990 after Kahane concluded a speech warning American Jews to emigrate to Israel before it was "too late."

Kahane founded the US based Jewish Defense League in 1968 and Israel's Kahane Hai party in 1970 after moving to Israel.

The FBI considered the JDL, founded to protect elderly Jews from violence and to combat anti-Semitism actively, a terrorist organization, alleging it "bombed Arab and Russian targets in the United States."

The FBI has accused the JDL of a wide variety of violent crimes targeting "enemies of the Jewish people."

The Kahane Hai party in Israel was banned in1988 by political opponents who branded it as "racist" and "undemocratic" under an ad hoc law specifically intended to exclude Kahane from the Knesset.

While Moledet party head, MK Major Gen. (ret.) Rechavam Ze'evi advocated transfer of Arabs without Israeli citizenship to Arab nations, Kahane argued that Israel should encourage Israeli Arabs to leave the country as well. Ze'evi was assassinated by Arab terrorists in the Hyatt Hotel in Jerusalem in 2001.

In 1994, Israeli and US officials listed the Kahane Hai party as a terrorist organization after JDL member Dr. Baruch Goldstein opened fire on Muslim worshippers in the Cave of the Patriarchs.

However, the Shamgar Commission, tasked with investigating Goldstein's attack by the Israeli government, found no links to Kach, concluding "Goldstein acted alone, telling no one of his scheme."