The US embassy in Israel recently informed Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu that his Visa to enter the US has been revoked, USA Today reported.
According to the report, this is an unusual move as the visa did not expire, but was revoked in a move initiated by the State Department.
Rabbi Eliyahu is one of the most prominent rabbis in Israel, having served for decades as the Chief Rabbi of Safed and on the Chief Rabbinical Council.
The US embassy refused to comment on the reasons for the move, stating that it does not address personal issues related to US visas.. Israeli officials believe the move may be related to Rabbi Eliyahu’s past statements regarding Israel’s Arab population, including a call not to rent apartments to Israeli Arabs.
Rabbi Eliyahu has been active in recent years in attempting to strengthen ties between Israel and American Jews, and the revocation of his visa may hamper his efforts in that area.
The rabbi’s office responded: “Despite appeals to the American consulate, we have not received any explanation for the visa revocation that was supposed to be valid for decades. Our inquiries indicate that this is an action taken at the behest anti-Zionists such as the Reform movement, factors that frequently try to infringe on freedom of expression and silence rabbis. After failing to silence Rabbi Eliyahu in legal ways, they are now trying to silence the rabbi in such petty ways. There is no reason to worry – they will not succeed.”