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Israel deports a Kenyan hours after landing in Tel Aviv

A Kenyan convert to Judaism, who had obtained permission to study at a Yeshiva (Jewish seminary) run by the Conservative movement in Jerusalem, was deported on Monday morning after being detained at Ben-Gurion International Airport overnight.

Thirty one year-old Francis Kimani Njogu was turned away even though he had a valid three-month tourist visa to Israel, signed by Israel’s ambassador in Nairobi Noah Gal Gendler.

Njogu was extradited to the country from Israel after being found to have secured his Visa through underhand methods.

VISA NOT VALID

According to Haaretz, upon landing at Ben Gurion Airport, authorities at the passport inspection said his visa was not valid as it was fraudulently acquired and ordered he be deported.

Earlier this year, Njogo put in a request for a three-month tourist visa to Israel, indicating in his application that he intended to study and travel in the country.

His application was denied by the Ministry of Interior.

Last month, he reapplied, this time directly through the Israeli Embassy in Nairobi, where he explained that he had been accepted to a study program at the Conservative Yeshiva.

An embassy official contacted the Yeshiva to confirm that he had, indeed, been accepted.

About 12 days ago, Njogo was informed that his visa had been approved and that he should come to the embassy to pick up his passport.

The visa, which contains the stamp of the Israeli ambassador to Kenya, states that the purpose of his visit is to study at the Conservative Yeshiva.

The three-month visa issued to Francis Kimani Njogu. PHOTO | COURTESY
The three-month visa issued to Francis Kimani Njogu signed by Israels ambassador in Nairobi Noah Gal Gendler. PHOTO | COURTESY

CONVERSION TO JUDAISM

Njogu’s conversion to Judaism, about 10 years ago, was overseen by the rabbi of the Abayudaya community in Uganda.

The Abayudaya community split from Christianity in the early 20th century when its members began identifying as Jews and observing Jewish laws and customs.

Last year, the Jewish Agency ruled that the Abayudaya are a recognized Jewish community.

After he converted, Njogu spent a year living among the Abayudaya. Currently a student in Nairobi, he spent a semester several years ago at the Brandeis Summer Institute in Los Angeles studying Judaism.

Rabbi Andy Sacks, director of the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly in Israel termed the extradition as “an act of outright racism.”

RACISM

“Let’s be honest, he was not let into the country because he was black, and this is not the first time our converts from Africa have been given the run-around.”

Kimani is allegedly the leader of 50-member Kehilat Kasuku, a small group of families in Kenya who decided to abandon Messianic Judaism in the early 2000s.

A retired judge Justin Philips had invited Kimani to study at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem for a short program.

“There was no question on the visa form asking for that, and if they want that information they should ask for it. This is naked racism,” Philips said.

Kimani is a tourism graduate and hopes to one day operate a kosher safari firm in Kenya.