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Visa Wars: U.S. Denies Entry to Israeli Spies

israeli agents visas denied

Shin Bet and Mossad agents entering U.S.: visa denied!

In the past year, the U.S. government has adopted a radical new approach to Israeli spies seeking access to this country: it’s shut the door.  Well, not entirely.  But scores, if not hundreds of Israeli officials associated with the Shin Bet, Mossad, IDF, and defense industries have either had their visas rejected or they’ve been granted three-month stays instead of the multi-year stays they were offered previously:

The paper [Maariv] quoted a “senior [Israeli] security expert”, who said he had been denied an entry visa to the US this past January, for the first time in his career, despite having visited the US numerous times in the past “without trouble”. He told Maariv that he had “traveled to the US dozens of times in the past for my job and never faced issues getting a visa” on time.

This comes on top of the 20% rejection rate of Israeli civilians, many of whom attempt to enter the country with no visible means of employment or support.

The issue du jour in U.S.-Israel relations is the latter’s wish to enter the visa waiver program, which would supposedly allow free access to both countries by citizens of the other.  For one thing, the U.S.’ increasing restrictiveness in the visa process doesn’t bode well for Israeli admission to this select club.  For another, it confirms Jeff Stein’s recent Newsweek report which quoted anonymous U.S. counter-intelligence and security officials warning that Israel’s intelligence-espionage activity in the U.S. has broken red lines and amounts to some of the most intrusive activity among all nation’s active here.

You don’t even have to go all the way back to Jonathan Pollard to point to some of the egregious violations of the Israel-U.S. alliance in terms of security breaches.  Since then, there’s been the Steve Rosen-Larry Franklin scandal and a number of others.  After the al-Mabouh assassination, two Mossad assassins traveled from Dubai directly to the U.S. where, one may assume, there had cover as covert operatives.

Similarly, Dubai’s police chief accused Canada of actually detaining one of the Mossad assassins when he returned to Canada to resume his own secret identity.  More recently, a Canadian journalist revealed that Canadian intelligence had actually provided the assassin with a new identity.  This is the only time I’ve ever heard of a country offering a secret identity to an agent of a foreign country.

All this makes the Israeli foreign ministry denial that there is any espionage going on here seem not just hollow, but laughable.  Diplomats are supposed to lie plausibly (at least).  But that lesson is lost on Israelis.

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • lally May 8, 2014, 9:30 PM

    Richard, is there any way you can screengrab the Maariv piece and convert it to Anglaise? Are you surprised that they published such a potential threat to Israel’s security interests? Where is the censor?

    Sure eels like there is a lot of pent-up resentment starting to boil over.

    • shmuel May 8, 2014, 11:03 PM

      I get the feeling that the US administration has had enough of Bibi and co. I heard last night Martin Indyk flatly placing the failure of the peace negotiations on Israel because of the settlement announcements.
      It seems that they had high hopes on Kerry’s crusade for peace and the failure reflects strongly on the US’s ability to act as a mediator as a “superpower”.

      i think we can expect further estrangement not from Israel but from Bibi and the Israeli government, in spite of AIPAC, and Bibi will become another Pollard-like embarassment to US Jewry

      • Richard Silverstein May 9, 2014, 7:35 PM

        @ Shmuel: Since Bibi IS Israel for the time being, I think the U.S. will try to distinguish between the two, but it will be hard. Israel is not going to be a favorite of this administration for sure. You’ll have to wait to see if Clinton or an Adelson-backed GOP president wins the next election for an attempt at a “reset.” I don’t think Bibi cares whether he has U.S. support or not. He just wants the U.S. to stay out of his, and the settlers way.

        • Jackdaw May 9, 2014, 9:22 PM


          It sounds to me like Indyk is playing the ‘blame game’, and protecting his, and his bosses, asses.
          link to weeklystandard.com

          Let’s wait for the ‘tell all’ books to be published next year before rushing to judgment.

          • Richard Silverstein May 10, 2014, 8:34 PM

            @ Jackdaw: How telling that your source for “news” is the Weekly Standard!

        • Deïr Yassin May 11, 2014, 4:32 AM

          @ Jackdaw
          “It sounds to me like Indyk is playing the ‘blame game’, and protecting his, and his bosses, asses.”
          Whe are Indyk’s bosses, Obama or AIPAC ?
          link to electronicintifada.net

  • David May 9, 2014, 1:58 AM

    Denying visa to Israeli spies? Isn’t that anti-semitic?

    • John Reagan May 10, 2014, 4:21 PM

      Of course it isn’t antisemitic. Every country has a right to refuse spies into their country and all do. Recently, we refused an Iranian spy, and Britain refused a Cuban spy. Clearly Israel blocks foreign spies. Heck! They block foreigners who protest Israeli actions against the Palestinians like the Gaza Flotilla.

      If you read this link, you’ll find that not only are spies on the list of people to be blocked on entry into the US, but there is ‘no waiver’. In other words, we ‘technically’ just refuse admission to all.

      Inadmissibility: When the U.S. Can Keep You Out | Nolo.com link to nolo.com

      • Deïr Yassin May 11, 2014, 4:38 AM

        I think David was being sarcastic :-) Though one never knows ….

  • Jackdaw May 9, 2014, 7:54 AM

    Not to put too fine a point on it, the Newsweek article repeatedly uses the term ‘industrial espionage’ to describe Israeli activities, not ‘spying’.

    Not too put too fine a point on it, AIPAC’s Steve Rosen was charged with violating an obscure, overbroad, 1917 era statute and government’s case against him disintegrated.

    BTW. As the Newsweek article clearly states, the US spies on her allies, like German Chancellor Merkel, and the U.S. spies on Israel, too. Always has.

    What’s worse, the American government eavesdropping on the German government in order to gain trade secrets, or Israel committing industrial espionage against private American corporations and companies?
    Close call.

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