Friday, April 09, 2010

White House Issues Pro Forma 'Denial' On Israeli Visa Story

Per Ben Smith, reporting in Politico the Obama Administration has issued a pro forma denial that it is denying US visas to Israeli nuclear technicians:

The White House is denying a story in the Israeli newspaper Maariv, gaining traction today on the right, that Israeli nuclear scientists have been denied visas to visit the United States.

The story comes after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled plans to attend President Barack Obama's nuclear summit over fears that Arab states would use the occasion to press Israel on its deliberately ambiguous nuclear weapons policy.

The story, whose sourcing is a bit hazy, says that "Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor’s employees have told Israel’s Maariv daily that they have been having problems recently getting visas to the United States where they have for years attended seminars in Chemistry, Physics and Nuclear Engineering. They also complain
of being treated in an ‘insulting manner’ by President Obama’s people. Until recently, employees of the Nuclear Research Center routinely traveled to the United States for seminars and courses."

But White House spokesman Bill Burton flatly denied the report of a change to U.S. visa policy.

Except the sourcing isn't hazy in the came from the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv. And it quoted nuclear technicians who have been denied visas, as well as Professor Zeev Alfasi, the head of Nuclear Engineering at Ben-Gurion University in the Negev. I wonder, did anyone try to contact him?

And let's review exactly what the story said, shall we?:

NRG/Maariv (Hebrew link only, sorry) reported today that the Israeli government was stunned when every nuclear technician at Israel's Dimona reactor who had submitted visa requests to visit the United States for ongoing university education in Physics, Chemistry and Nuclear Engineering had their visa applications summarily rejected, specifically because of their association with the Dimona reactor.

This is a new policy decision of the Obama administration. Up until now, it was routine for Israeli nuclear scientists and technicians to receive such visas and to study at US universities.

Israeli security officials have confirmed that these technicians are being denied visas solely because of their employment at the Dimona reactor.

Not only are employees at Dimonas taboo, but reportedly the US has an unofficial embargo on selling anything to be used at the site.

Professor Zeev Alfasi, the head of Nuclear Engineering at Ben-Gurion University in the Negev stated that "the United States doesn't sell anything nuclear-related to the Dimona reactor, and that means absolutely nothing. Radiation detectors, for example have to be purchased now in France because the USA refuses to sell these to Israel."

Here's the odd bit. Obama and his minions might believe that these sneaky, underhanded Jews are all spies, but in real life, nuclear espionage here in America has only occurred from China or from Obama's friends in the Muslim world...especially Iran and Pakistan.

You'll notice the White House spokesmouth doesn't even mention Dimona. Nor does he mention the embargo on selling Israel even routine items to be used at the site.

Either the visas to the Dimona technicians were issued or they weren't, and either the Obama Administration has an embargo on selling anything to Dimona similar to the Administration's de facto arms embargo on Israel or it doesn't.

Given the general level of credibility in this White House, I'm sticking with this story until I hear differently.,,especially since it seems exactly in character, given the way the Obama Administration has generally treated Israel.

This smacks of damage control.

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Rosey said...

Do Americans need a visa to visit Israel? Do Israelis need visas to visit the US? Over the years (and I know things have changed drastically) I have traveled to several countries in Europe and Asia and either never needed a visa, or received one at the border or airport if I did...I'm not understanding this...

Rosey said...

This story just hit Fox News home page @11:46am PDT...goods news for exposing this egregious act...