Israel to Leftist Expat: Deposit NIS 100k or You Can’t Visit Your Sick Mother

Dror Feiler relinquished his Israeli citizenship after marrying a Swedish citizen, and an order banning him from Israel was issued against him in 2010 for participating in flotillas protesting the blockade on the Gaza Strip

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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Israeli expat Dror Feiler.
Israeli expat Dror Feiler.Credit: Courtesy of the Feiler family
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

The Interior Ministry has made the entry of a left-wing activist, a former Israeli seeking to visit his elderly mother, conditional on depositing a guarantee of 100,000 shekels ($28,910).

Over the past 10 years the ministry has blocked Dror Feiler from visiting his mother, and his request to reinstate his Israeli citizenship based on the Law of Return has been languishing in the ministry for nearly two years without a response. His mother, Penina, 97, lives in Yad Hanna. Feiler has started to solicit donations because neither he nor his mother have the required funds.

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Feiler, 69, an Israeli-born musician, went to study music in Sweden during the 1970s, where he met his wife, a painter. As a condition for acquiring Swedish citizenship, he had to relinquish his Israeli citizenship. Over the past decade Feiler has participated in a few of the flotillas protesting the blockade on the Gaza Strip. (Disclosure: This writer and Feiler know each other since childhood and in 2011 we were on the same boat to Gaza that the Israel Navy intercepted). In 2010 the Interior Ministry issued an order banning him from Israel for 15 years.

Feiler and his mother last saw each other in 2013, when she could still travel by plane to see him in Sweden. Since then her health has not allowed her to do this.

The Interior Ministry has repeatedly rejected her requests to cancel the order against her son, so that she could at least see him one last time. In December, attorney Gabi Lasky submitted an administrative petition on the matter and in January the director of the Population and Immigration Authority, Prof. Shlomo Mor Yosef, responded that Feiler could enter for 14 days if he posted the high bond.

Dror Feiler's mother, Penina.Credit: Courtesy of the Feiler family

These conditions were not acceptable to Feiler, and Lasky appealed. The appeals tribunal didn’t hear the appeal until September 6, when Judge Shlomi Weisen agreed to add another 14 days to the visit, since during the first 14 days Feiler would have to be quarantined, but he did not reduce the deposit required. Feiler, who lost most of his income this year because of numerous planned concerts that were canceled, doesn’t have the money.

After despairing of getting an entry permit, Feiler in November 2018 submitted a request to immigrate to Israel on grounds that he’s a Jew and plans to return to live near his mother in Israel. In the intervening years, Swedish law had changed so that he’d be able to maintain dual citizenship. Despite reminders and inquiries every few months, his request to immigrate has not gotten a response from the population authority, not even to explain the delay.

The spokesman for the Population and Immigration Authority did not answer Haaretz’s question on the matter, including whether the ministry was trying act vengefully against Feiler by essentially punishing his mother.

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