07 November 2003

Worldwide, antisemitism is approaching 1930s levels. As we approach the anniversary of Kristallnacht, let me tell you a little bit about those years.In 1939, a shipload of Jews from Germany tried to escape their fate by boarding the SS ST. Louis, which was to take them to safety in Cuba, where some of them had relatives.
After Kristallnacht in November 1938, many Jews within Germany decided that it was time to leave. Though many German Jews had emigrated in the preceding years, the Jews who remained had a more difficult time because emigration policies had toughened. By 1939, not only were visas needed to be able to enter another country but money was also needed to leave Germany. Since many countries, especially the United States, had immigration quotas, visas were near impossible to acquire within the short time spans in which they were needed. For many, the visas were acquired after it was too late. The opportunity that the S.S. St. Louis presented seemed like a last hope to escape.
Some of these people had just been released from Dachau, some families had been so economically worn down by the laws against Jews that they could only afford to put one family member on the ship. The United States had immigration quotas. Cuba wanted huge bribes. The Joint didn't have all the information it needed to help. In the end, the St. Louis sailed to Cuba and back with the Jews still on board. They managed to get to European countries other than Germany, and were swept up by the Holocaust when it reached them and deported East to die.
If a ship from Israel carrying desperate refugees asked to land in New Jersey next week, what do you think would happen? A hint:
2,000 Israelis Try to Beat New U.S. Visa Regulations
12:31 Jul. 14, '03 / 14 Tammuz 5763
Today is the last day that most foreign citizens need not undergo a personal interview and then wait several weeks before receiving a visa to visit the U.S.
Until now, Israelis wishing to visit the United States could obtain a visa in a two-day process by applying directly to the U.S. Embassy, at a cost of 325 shekels. The average amount of Israelis whose visa requests were rejected has been approximately 5%. Under the new regulations, would-be visitors will have to apply via their travel agents, wait for a personal interview, and then wait for a decision by U.S. authorities - a process that could take up to two months.