A ban on Indonesians visiting Israel does not apply to every Indonesian who wants to come to the Holy Land, and a lecture in Jerusalem on Wednesday by Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf under the auspices of the Israel Council on Foreign Relations will go ahead as planned, ICFR executive director Laurence Weinbaum confirmed on Sunday.
Staquf is the general secretary of the Indonesian Sunni Muslim Organization Nahdlatul Ulama, one of the world’s largest independent Islamic movements. Its activities include promoting the Shafi’i school of jurisprudence, funding schools and hospitals and trying to alleviate poverty by mobilizing communities into action.
Although Indonesia does have not diplomatic relations with Israel, it allows members of its Christian minority to visit Israel, with some 30,000 Christian pilgrims arriving each year.
However, Indonesia decided to close its gates to Israelis following Israel’s retaliation against attempts by Gazans to enter Israel. Israel responded by barring Indonesians from entering Israel, despite the huge loss in revenues to airline companies, hotels, tour guides, bus companies, etc.
Weinbaum was fearful that the ban might also apply to Staquf, but after checking with the responsible authorities, he was told that Staquf was traveling on a different kind of visa and had been given the green light.