The Shin Bet security service handed an American dentist a birthday present of sorts this week when it relented and allowed him to visit Israel. In the process, Dustin Pfundheller, who arrived in Israel on Sunday and turned 31 on Monday, has earned a berth in the Guinness Book of Records as the youngest person to visit every country in the world.
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Pfundheller had been trying for months to get an Israeli tourist visa, going so far as to petition the High Court of Justice, but his court case became moot when the Shin Bet lifted its objections to granting him permission to enter the country. Over the past three years, Pfundheller has visited 236 countries and territories in a bid to secure his place in the Guinness book, garnering media attention in the United States and elsewhere.
He first tried to enter Israel in October of last year, when he was detained at Ben-Gurion International Airport and refused entry for reasons that are not clear. He said at the time that he assumed it was because the visa stamps on his passport showed that he had visited Iran and a number of Arab countries. Pfundheller tried to return to Israel three months ago, this time by land from Jordan, even registering for a dental conference in Tel Aviv but that didn’t sit well with Israeli border control officials, who threatened to bar his entry into the country for 10 years.
Having now entered the country, Pfundheller has earned himself a number of Guinness records relating not only to visiting every country in the world but also for the number of countries where he has treated patients.
Throughout his travels, Pfundheller — who lives in Singapore — has volunteered to help promote health among the poor, and has acted as a physician’s assistant in many places, according to his lawyer Michael Decker.