The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller
              In this Jan. 26, 2012 photo, people line up to apply for visas at the U.S. embassy in Brasilia, Brazil.  Brazilian travelers spend more per capita than any other visitors to the U.S., and President Barack Obama recently ordered the State Department to speed up the visa application process for tourists coming from Brazil.  (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

The Obama administration’s visa double standard

Photo of Paul Miller
Paul Miller
Op-ed Contributor, Franklin Center

Syrian cleric Sheikh Mohammad Rateb al-Nabulsi – radical proponent of terrorism seeking to spew his venom against gays, Jews and Westerners: Visa granted. Israeli tourists, students, professionals and business leaders on trade missions from the only democracy in the Middle East and the U.S.’s only ally in the region with whom we share common values: Visa denied. So why is the Obama administration welcoming an agent of hate while denying entry to Israelis?

According to data release from the State Department, 2013 saw an 80 percent increase in the number of visa request rejections of Israeli applicants. 9.7 percent of all tourist applications from the Jewish State were rejected last year, up from 5.4 percent in 2012. Since 2007, when the denial rate was 2.5 percent, there has been an increase of approximately 400 percent. This phenomenon has not gone unnoticed. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), one of President Obama’s staunchest allies, recently issued a statement condemning the “arbitrary practice of denying young Israelis tourist visas” because a few “bad apples” overstayed their welcome.

The Schumer release further noted, “This unofficial policy has been in place for 2-3 years, and has been extended to include not just Israelis who are seeking to travel after completing their compulsory military service, but also to include all Israeli nationals who are of student age.”

While the administration has concluded that many Israelis are somehow now a risk to society, Sheikh al-Nabulsi arrived in the United States on New Year’s Day with the blessing of the State Department – embarking on a 17-city tour of U.S. mosques to raise money for Syrian rebels. If current U.S. policy were being enforced, the radical cleric would never have been permitted off the plane.

According to the Washington, D.C. based Investigative Project on Terrorism, “Under current policy, a foreign national applying for a U.S. visa who is known to have promoted jihad and suicide bombings would be ordinarily deemed ‘undesirable’ and denied a visa.” Sheikh al-Nabulsi easily falls into this category.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), translated and reported on an April 28, 2011 broadcast aired on al Aqsa TV, the official network of State Department-designated terrorist group Hamas, in which Sheikh al-Nabulsi explains, “Homosexuality involves a filthy place and does not generate offspring. Homosexuality leads to the destruction of the homosexual. That is why, brothers, homosexuality carries the death penalty.”

Considering President Obama’s support for gay rights, including same-sex marriage, his denunciation of the Russian government for its treatment of gays, and his leading the charge against Arizona for considering segregation-era anti-gay legislation, wouldn’t you think that a vile, unabashed bigot such as the sheikh would have his visa request rejected in a heartbeat?

No.

Far from reserving all his vitriol for gays, the radical cleric also promotes jihad against Jews and Western culture in general.  Declaring that “all the Jewish people are combatants,” Sheikh al-Nabulsi endorses suicide bombings, or as he calls them, “martyrdom operations,” against Israel.

Is this administration experiencing a visa identity crisis?

Where is the media condemnation and outcry from the LGBT community?

Imagine the reaction if the administration of President George Bush had violated the rules governing visa applications and permitted a foreign national like Sheikh al-Nabulsi on U.S. soil.