Shalom Life | November 14, 2014

Is the Obama Administration Purposely Denying Gal Mekel's Visa Renewal?

Indiana was prohibited from signing the Israeli point guard because of a rare visa renewal problem; meanwhile Obama announces doubling for Chinese student visas

By: Daniel Koren

Published: November 12th, 2014 in Sports » Local

Yesterday we ran an interview between journalist Nachum Segal and former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Danny Ayalon, discussing the recent terrorist attacks on Jerusalem, the strength of Israeli security, and also the ties between the United States and Israel, which many have claimed are at an all-time low due to the feeble relationship between Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama.

Ayalon noted that while the two heads of state haven't been seeing eye to eye, the US-Israel alliance is "natural and unbreakable."

However, that doesn't mean that the U.S. President doesn't have his share of influence on American policy changes. For example, on Monday, Obama, while on a visit to China, announced he was using his authority to double the number of visas granted to Chinese students.

You have to wonder if he also used his authority earlier this year when the State Department cracked down on the number of visas that are granted to Israeli students and tourists.

Following this change in policy, New York Senator Charles Schumer wrote an open letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, demanding an end to the “State Department policy of categorically denying young Israelis tourist visas that makes it nearly impossible for any young Israeli to visit the U.S.”

We can look at the statistics, that in 2007, only 2.5% of Israeli visa requests were denied, as opposed to 9.7% in 2013. This, as the State Department confirms, is a 400% increase.

We can also look at a particular scenario, regarding a young, thriving Israeli NBA player named Gal Mekel, who was waived last week by the Dallas Mavericks, and was looking to find a new home in Indiana with the Pacers, who are in desperate, desperate need of a point guard. The Pacers were impressed with Mekel's performance as a Maverick when the two teams squared off against each other on October 18th, with Mekel scoring 19 points and 9 assists

As previously reported, Mekel flew to Boston last Wednesday to meet with the Pacers - four out of their five guards are currently injured - but Indiana was eventually forced to back out of the deal because the State Department refused to renew the Israeli's visa.

As Breitbart reports, visas for foreign-born players in the NBA are "automatically transferable with the players to whom they are issued." They also note that many basketball analysts agree that this is the first time in a long while that a foreign-born player was not allowed to sign with a new NBA team due to a visa issue.

Now, as Bleacher Report points out, Mekel is still without a team, despite a bright start to this year's NBA season, and still without a visa. Is this Obama's way of punishing Israelis for his so-called 'feud' with Netanyahu? Is a talented NBA player going to remain a free agent throughout the season because of a visa dispute that hasn't transpired for the other 100 foreign players in the NBA?

Visa Issue May Thwart Indiana's Plans of Signing Mekel Trending Hockey Coach Fired for his Facebook Infatuation with Nazis Trending Jewish Hall of Fame: Ken Holtzman Trending
 

New App Allows You to Shmoney Dance With Drake

November 13, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
New App Allows You to Shmoney Dance With Drake

If you're not a huge Drake fan, you can also dance with Rihanna or Chris Brown

Read More

Adam Sandler’s ‘The Cobbler’ Releases Magical Trailer [VIDEO]

November 13, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Adam Sandler’s ‘The Cobbler’ Releases Magical Trailer [VIDEO]

'The Cobbler' co-stars Dustin Hoffman, Dan Stevens, Ellen Barkin, and Method Man

Read More

Startup Club: Sara Schwartz Geller Productions

November 13, 2014 | By Caitlin Marceau

We speak to Sara Schwartz Geller, founder of the production company behind 'Fabrik: The Legend of M. Rabinowitz'

Read More

Breakthrough Jew - The Skimm's Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin

November 13, 2014 | By Sara Torvik

Weisberg and Zakin are the founders of TheSkimm, the daily newsletter that tells you everything you need to know to begin your day.

Read More

Diane von Furstenberg and UNESCO to Restore Venice’s Jewish Ghetto

November 13, 2014 | By Caitlin Marceau
Diane von Furstenberg and UNESCO to Restore Venice’s Jewish Ghetto

The fashion designer is leading a group alongside real estate investor, Joseph Sitt

Read More

Jewish Headstone Moved By Polish Strongmen

November 13, 2014 | By Caitlin Marceau
Jewish Headstone Moved By Polish Strongmen

The headstone, which was discovered on the property, was broken in two sections and located in an area that didn't facilitate the use of equipment to move the grave marker.

Read More

Hamas and Islamic State Named the Richest Terrorist Organisations

November 13, 2014 | By Caitlin Marceau
Hamas and Islamic State Named the Richest Terrorist Organisations

Hamas gets the second place spot on the list after The Islamic State, according to The Times of Israel

Read More

Investment Conference Invests in Funding For Research on Aging

November 13, 2014 | By Howard English
Investment Conference Invests in Funding For Research on Aging

The conference raised at least $200,000 for Baycrest.

Read More

More Headlines