Israel has barred its gates to 76-year-old Meyer Lansky, the reputed underworld figure from the U.S., who was refused immigrant status and ousted from Israel in 1972. Lansky told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, in a telephone interview from Miami, that he wanted to visit Israel "for a few weeks" on a tour organized by his local B’nai B’rith lodge.
But Interior Minister Yosef Burg, backed by the State’s top legal authorities, has rejected Lansky’s application for a tourist visa. Burg held that the deportation order issued against Lansky five years ago was still valid. A senior official here told the JTA today that Lansky is considered "one of the most dangerous men in the world." The official said there was nothing arbitrary in the decision to keep him out. "Whatever line you draw, Lansky would be on the other side of it," he said.
The alleged gangland boss came to Israel in 1971 as a tourist. When the Interior Ministry refused to extend his tourist visa, he applied for immigrant status under the Law of Return. The Ministry rejected that request on grounds that Lansky had "a criminal past likely to endanger the welfare of the State." The Law of Return denies citizenship to known criminals. After the Supreme Court refused to overrule the Ministry’s decision, Lansky was deported. He was arrested in the U.S. for alleged tax evasion but was subsequently acquitted at a trial in Miami.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.