On April 8, 2010, I wrote an article in this space implying that the Obama administration had instituted a new policy restricting entry to the United States for Israeli nuclear scientists who worked at the Dimona reactor. I based my article on a report from the Israeli website/newspaper Maariv, which quoted the nuclear engineering professor Zeev Alfassi as its primary source.
This morning (Pacific time) I was able to reach Dr. Alfassi in his office at Ben Gurion University in the Negev. Apparently, my report — and the newspaper’s — was inaccurate. The professor informed me that while it was extremely difficult for scientists who worked at Dimona to obtain U.S. visas, this was not a new policy of the Obama administration. This problem has been going on since 9/11.
Alfassi explained that formerly he and other scientists were able to go through travel agents to obtain visas to the U.S. Now they have to go personally to the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv. He knows of at least one case of a scientist who was not able to attend a conference in this country because of this system. European scientists, he said, did not have this problem.
Dr. Alfassi was quite cordial in answering my questions and I thank him.