Strike at Israeli Foreign Ministry Threatens to Prevent Athletes Attending 'Jewish Olympics'

Four-month protest by workers over low salaries, which has already nixed several visits to Israel by foreign leaders, could now affect Maccabiah Games.

A strike by Foreign Ministry workers may prevent numerous athletes from participating in this month's 19th Maccabiah Games, according to a Channel 2 News report.

Maccabi World Union CEO Eyal Tiberger wrote an angry letter to the director general of the Foreign Ministry, claiming that the slowdown action by ministry staff overseas threatened the participation of delegates from 14 countries needing visas to visit Israel: Armenia, Aruba, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia,Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Moldova, Nicaragua,Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

The Games begin July 18.

"We seek appeal to the exceptions committee for approval for the consulates in the above countries to issue entry visas to the athletes," Tiberger wrote in the letter, which Channel 2 reproduced on its website. "Because we were told that the exceptions committee is only dealing with life-and-death cases, we turn to you and request your intervention."

A Foreign Ministry workers' spokesperson responded that the slowdown is about extremely problematic work conditions and various distortions that the ministry refuses to correct. The spokesperson recommended that anyone affected by the slowdown should turn to the treasury and the wage director, who has the power to stop the industrial action.