March 19, 2013
Miss Israel misses U.S. event due to visa restrictions
Yityish Aynaw may have a meeting set up with President Barack Obama when he travels to Israel later this week, but getting one with a U.S. embassy employee in Tel Aviv is a more difficult task.
Israel's first beauty queen of Ethiopian Jewish descent was unable to attend a Friends of the Israel Defense Forces event in New York on March 12 because she could not get a visa on time.
“We had just three days to issue a visa,” an organizer was quoted by the Israeli news website Ynet as saying. “Bureaucratically, it was impossible.”
Congressmen Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and Ted Poe (R-Tex.) have drafted a bill that would waive visa restrictions for Israelis, but the legislation is currently stuck because of Israel's relatively high visa rejection rate.
Israeli officials recently asked younger citizens not to travel to the U.S. unless necessary in order to reduce the rate of visa rejections.