Despite lack of diplomatic relations, Pakistani Jew Fishel Khalid seeks special visa to enter Israel, saying in an open letter that since he can now legally travel to Israel, his dream is to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
By Erez Linn
Fishel Khalid, a Pakistani who has become famous for convincing authorities to recognize him as a Jew, appealed to the Israeli government on Sunday and asked for special permission to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
In a special interview with Israel Hayom, Khalid says that because his newly issued Pakistani passport states his religion as Judaism, all he has to do in order to visit Jerusalem is get Israel’s permission.
Khalid, who changed his first name from Faisal to Fishel after converting and says he was born to a Jewish mother, got his new passport in July after authorities changed his religion in the national database.
The passport, like all Pakistani passports, states: “This passport is valid for all countries of the world except Israel.” But according to Khalid, this prohibition is meaningless because of Pakistan’s constitution, which guarantees freedom of worship.
“You have to understand: The constitution of Pakistan says that every citizen has an equal right to profess religion. … The constitution is supreme. So if I invoke the constitution, I have a right to go to Jerusalem whether this sentence is written on my passport or not. The supreme law in Pakistan is the constitution and the Shariah [Islamic law],” he tells Israel Hayom.
Khalid tweeted last week that he was recently contacted by officials in the Pakistani Foreign Ministry who said he can indeed use the new passport to enter Israel because it indicates his Jewish faith, prompting him to turn to Israeli authorities to make it into a reality.
Dear @ImranKhanPTI on 2-Jan Ministry of Foreign Affairs called to informing that I can visit Jerusalem Isreal on Pakistani passport
Im applying visa from Isreali embassy.
Thank u Dr Faisal @ForeignOfficePk @DrMFaisal@fawadchaudhry @BBhuttoZardari @OfficialDGISPR @peaceforchange pic.twitter.com/WookDyRlU6
— Fishel Benkhald (@Jew_Pakistani) January 23, 2019
In an open letter the Israeli government, which he shared exclusively with Israel Hayom, he writes: “I am a holder of a Pakistani passport and I have no other nationality. … As a practicing Pakistani Jew I request that you allow me to enter Jerusalem, Israel for Pesach [Passover] in April 2019 for a few days. I will be returning back to Karachi, Pakistan after spending a few days in Jerusalem, Israel.”
“I am happy to speak with anyone from Israel, anyone from India, anyone from anywhere else,” he told Israel Hayom after being asked if he is afraid. “Because we are not talking about something bad, we are talking about something good, I am not afraid of doing the right thing. As long as I know in my heart that I am not doing something wrong, I should not be afraid. … A person gets tired of being scared. I have moved beyond the feeling of fear for quite a long time.”
When asked if he had tried to contact Israeli authorities in order to obtain a visa he says: “I have friends in India, they are trying to get me connected to the Israeli embassy in India. And I hope that I get to hear good news from them soon. … This is a people to people effort, pushing for religious freedoms, not government to government.”
Khalid’s appeal to Israeli authorities mimics the approach he took when asking his own government for permission.
In his public letter to Pakistani authorities, he wrote: “Be like Moses who stood against injustice and inequality and said, ‘Let my people go, so that they may worship.’ Be like the Maccabees of Hanukkah of 167 BCE who opened the Temple gate so that people can worship the God of Abraham. Be like the founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah who promised on August 11, 1947, that ‘you are free, you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or cast or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the state.'”
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