Two Jewish Americans were denied entry to Israel in June, after being held at Ben-Gurion International Airport for almost 48 hours, the Jerusalem Post reported Monday.
Jewish convert Idit Malka from Cape Coral, Florida, arrived in Israel on June 12 with her 10-year-old son Kahxin to visit family here and attend her sister’s wedding, the report said. But according to the Jerusalem Post, the Population, Immigration and Border Authority turned them away due to suspicions she belongs to the Black Hebrew community and was planning to stay in Israel instead of leaving on her August 20 return flight.
Malka’s family moved to Israel when she was a child and belonged to the Black Hebrew community, the report said, but Malka left for the United States after she separated from the community at age 13 due to ideological differences.
In 1995, she underwent a Reform conversion to Judaism and in 2004 a Conservative conversion. Two years later, she moved to Israel and applied for citizenship, but as a result of what the Jerusalem Post called a “bureaucratic tangle that lasted four years,” she and her children returned to the United States. That was in 2010. Her visit this June was the first time since then that she has tried to reenter the country.
Upon being detained at Ben-Gurion, Malka contacted one of her brothers who arranged an appeal to an on-call judge, the report said. “The judge ruled to uphold the denial of entry, and she and her son were put on a return flight to Florida.”
“If she had requested permission to come to Israel ahead of time, she would have been rejected and she could have prevented this from the beginning,” Sabine Hadad, spokesman for the Population, Immigration and Border Authority, told the Jerusalem Post.
The Black Hebrew Israelites are a community of African Americans in Dimona, most of them originally from Chicago, who maintain they are descendants of the Tribe of Judah but are not recognized as Jews by the state.
In recent years, African-American converts have come under intense scrutiny by Interior Ministry officials. The ministry appears to be concerned that they may be using their conversion as a way to get status in Israel in order to join the Black Hebrews in Dimona.