April 8, 2005
WIESENTHAL CENTER: LIFTING OF TRAVEL BAN TO ISRAEL “A CONFIDENCE BUILDER FOR PEACE”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center today commended the Bush Administration for lifting the two-year old State Department travel ban to Israel, one that had flatly warned Americans to avoid visits altogether because of ongoing terrorist violence. Yesterday, the State Department downgraded the travel warning to advise Americans to instead “carefully weigh” the necessity to travel. The previous travel ban had exacerbated the decline in tourism industry which had been greatly impacted by the second Intifada.
“This is an important confidence building measure for the people of Israel and an indication that Jerusalem has defeated this bloody round of Intifada-linked suicide terrorism,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center.
In February 2005, shortly after her confirmation as Secretary of State, Wiesenthal Center officials urged Condoleezza Rice to lift the ban, citing that given the recent momentum towards peace in that region, the State Department should begin to “encourage Americans of all faiths and all walks of life to visit the holy sights in Israel…and for families and friends to reconnect after years of fear and frustration…”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, and the Council of Europe.
For more information, please contact the Center's Public Relations Department, 310-553-9036, or visit www.wiesenthal.com.