It has been a while since Israelis entering Jordan were first required to deposit items of a Jewish-religious nature in order to cross the border for “security reasons.” Most recently, Israelis have been asked to removes their yarmulkes.
A., an Israeli businessman who visits Jordan often was amazed when he was asked to leave his yarmulkes in a safe on his most recent visit to the country. “We know tefillin are confiscated and we recently heard brimmed hats were being taken, so we came with regular hats,” he told Ynet.
“The man in the counter asked us to take off our hats and we thought it was standard procedure for passport control. But when the man saw the yarmulkes, he took us to the tourism police. The officer there said that the ban to wear yarmulkes was ‘for our own benefit,’ put it in the safe and gave us a form with which to receive the yarmulkes when we return.”
A. said that in light of such limitations he makes a point of not staying in Jordan for more than a day in each visit. “I don’t carry tefillin so I can’t stay the night,” he said. “What’s really annoying about the whole thing is that together with us at the border crossing was a group of post-army youngsters with IDF training t-shirts who were so obviously Israeli citizens. They didn’t give them any hard time, while with us they insisted.”
Yossi Levy, director of Israeli communications at the Foreign Ministry confirmed there were “disagreements with our Jordanian counterparts in regards to Jewish religious objects entering the Hashemite Kingdom.”
“We receive a growing number of complaints by Israeli visitors who report of religious items being confiscated at the border crossing ‘for security reasons.’ They explain this by the need to protect visitors carrying ‘obvious Israeli identification means.'”
Levy said that the Jordanians have been told that Israel objects to the singling out of religious Israeli tourists as opposed to other Israelis. He noted that “we continue our dialogue with candidness and trust.”