Wiesenthal Center Urges Secretary Rice To Lift Travel Warning To Israel

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                 

February 11, 2005


The Simon Wiesenthal Center, one of the nation's largest Jewish human rights groups, is urging the U.S. State Department to remove its 'travel warning' to Israel in wake of a series of positive developments which has significantly lowered the number of successful terrorist attacks in Israel.

In a letter to Condoleezza Rice, the new U.S. Secretary of State, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of  the Wiesenthal Center, wrote in part, "We want to thank you for your leadership on behalf of President Bush, in creating the necessary momentum and incentives in helping point the way to a peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians."

The letter went on to emphasize the positive aspects of increased American travel. "Now is the time to encourage Americans of all faiths and all walks of life to visit the holy sites in Israel, for students to take advantage of schools of higher learning and for families and friends to reconnect after years of fear and frustration that severely limited these opportunities and contacts."

In addition to dampening tourism to the Holy Land, the travel ban has been cited by various U.S. insurance companies who are currently refusing to insure Americans who travel frequently or stay for extended periods in the Jewish state.

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.