It was only two months ago that the Saudis were funding radio advertisements throughout the United States on our need as Americans to be patient as they move toward reform and tolerance.
Now, this next month, in a program which slipped through their "western laundering police," they initiated a program to improve tourism into their beloved autocratic state with the caveat that "Jews and Israelis need not apply for visas." In fact, their website for tourism had the following exclusions for visa applicants:
- An Israeli passport holder or a passport that has an Israeli arrival/departure stamp.
- Those who don't abide by the Saudi traditions concerning appearance and behaviors. Those under the influence of alcohol will not be permitted into the Kingdom.
- There are certain regulations for pilgrims and you should contact the consulate for more information.
- Jewish people.
And if that insult to principles of Islamic tolerance and hospitality is not enough, when the world took notice of their anti-Jewish travel policies they quickly changed the Saudi tourism website and pretended they were a tolerant tourist trap.
While we continue to listen not to the Saudi monarchs who have self-interest in portraying tolerance and change, but to the Imams in Saudi Arabia (i.e. the war cry from Mecca during Hajj Jan. 31, 2003) who continue to preach hatred, reform will need to be genuine and based upon Islam's sacred tradition of interfaith equality and brotherhood with Christians, Jews, and all humanity.
The Saudi's slipup over visas in their push for tourism is a sign of a far deeper rooted problem in intolerance, racism, and paranoia that will need real Islamic reform from the grass roots of the Saudi people - not from the government or from the pulpits.
Here is a picture of what the Saudis deleted off their website.
The updated entry had the offensive entries removed.