Will U.S. Travel Ban From Muslim Countries Apply to Israelis?

Foreign Ministry says it is waiting for clarifications before deciding whether to issue travel warning for Israelis originating in listed countries.

Demonstrators protesting against the Trump administration's new anti-Muslim travel restrictions at Dallas/Forth Worth Airport on Saturday.
Laura Buckman/Reuters

Israel is awaiting clarifications as to whether an executive order barring entrance to the United States to travelers from seven Muslim countries will apply to Israeli citizens born in these countries, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry said on Sunday.

“We are waiting for the details and the ramifications for Israeli citizens before deciding what our next move will be,” said spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon.

Many Israelis who immigrated during the early years of the state were born in Iran, Iraq, Yemen and Syria – four of the countries whose citizens have been denied entry into the United States under the highly controversial executive order signed by President Donald Trump on Friday.

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But Israel has yet to issue a travel advisory warning them that they might be turned away when entering the United States. The executive order could be interpreted as applying to all individuals from countries on the list, even if they have since left those countries and been naturalized elsewhere, a prominent U.S. immigration lawyer told Haaretz. That would include Israelis, he said.

Illustrating the uncertainties that some Israelis could face under the new restrictions, a Jew of Yemenite origin who has lived in the United States for many years expressed fear that he might not be let back in before boarding a flight from Tel Aviv to New York on Saturday night. 

In an emotional post on his Facebook page, Manny Damari wrote: “There is a possibility I won't be able to get on that plane back home. This is truly a nightmare. I never thought Mr. Trump's decisions would affect me in any way.

"I have been living in the United States for almost 11 years. I've waited many years and spent thousands of dollars to obtain my green card and in a few months, I'm supposed to be getting my citizenship. I have done everything legally!

“Many of my friends have contacted me asking what's going to happen. To be honest, I don't know what to expect and I'm a bit nervous. I escaped 'my country' as a kid because of religious persecution to seek refuge in a country I never thought would turn its back on the people who need its help. A country that has opened its doors to immigrants and refugees from across the globe.”

In a direct appeal to those of his friends celebrating the new restrictions, Damari wrote: “You should know this does not only affect Muslims, but it also affects thousands of Jews and Christians escaping war and religious persecutions. I hope you take a moment to think about it.”

Dr. Shimon Ohayon, executive director of Bar-Ilan University’s Dahan Center for Culture, Society and Education in the Sephardic Heritage, said: “We are waiting to see what, if any, implications this has for citizens of Israel who come from the countries on the list. Right now, as I understand it, it does not apply to us.”