During the past 2½ years, a Jewish Israeli who happened to be born in Iran, Libya or Syria – and that included such high-profile figures as Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and the singer Rita – faced a considerably lengthened visa process to enter the United States. That's because, against all logic, a person's country of birth was the determining factor whether his visa application was processed in Israel or sent to Washington.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer formally announced today that this nonsense is about to change. In the future, the main criterion determining where a visa application is processed, he said, will not be where one was born but to which country one owes allegiance. Given that Israelis born in Iran, Libya or Syria have usually not been back for decades, much less have ties to their birth countries, their visa applications, like those of other Israelis, will henceforth be processed in Israel.
This step has significance beyond the relatively few individuals concerned, for it marks an inching by the U.S. government to more accurately defining who the enemy is. Mere place of birth is not the key here, obviously. National allegiance is a step in the right direction – it points to a person's outlook – but there's a way to go before the definition is truly refined and the enemy is defined by his acceptance of the militant Islamic ideology. (April 21, 2004)