In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 22, 2005 / 15 Tammuz, 5765

How to offend ‘a fantastic ally’

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | WARSAW — Tears well in Maria Buczyk's eyes as she talks about her 83-year-old mother. "She lives in Chicago and she's quite sick," Buczyk says in a voice tense with emotion. Eugeniusz, her husband, pats her shoulder comfortingly. "I really need to see her."

We are standing in a courtyard of the American embassy in Poland. The Buczyks are waiting in line to apply for visas so they can travel to the United States. This is their third time going through the process; they were turned down twice before, they say, after being interviewed by consular officers who barely glanced at their documents. "They said I was going to immigrate," Maria recalls — that is, remain in the United States beyond the 90 days allowed on a tourist visa. "It's not true. I just want a month with my mother."

Like everyone else in line, the Buczyks are carrying a sheaf of paperwork: passports, photographs, and a Nonimmigrant Visa Application that had to be filled out on the internet before being printed. Because Eugeniusz is in his 50s, he didn't have to complete the supplemental application required of all men up to age 45. (Sample query: "Do you have any specialized skills or training, including firearms, explosives, nuclear, biological, or chemical experience?") On the other hand, he and Maria have brought along additional documents they hope will bolster their application — a letter of invitation from a US citizen and a bank statement showing their savings in Poland. But these are optional, and the embassy's guidelines candidly warn that "the consular officer may choose not to look at them if it appears that additional documents won't make a difference."

Definitely not optional is the final item in the Buczyks' folder — a bank check for $100, the mandatory "visa services" fee that must be paid by anyone who applies for a US visa. In a country where $1,000 is the average monthly income, $100 is not a trivial sum, and as the Buczyks have already learned, it is nonrefundable — the embassy keeps the money whether a visa is granted or not. Nor is that the only cost: To schedule their interview, the Buczyks had to call a special embassy "infoline" — a call for which they were charged nearly $1.50 per minute.

The whole ordeal strikes Poles as overbearing, insulting, and unfair. Americans have been able to enter Poland without a visa for years; why, they ask, should Poles have to go through such a demeaning procedure in order to enter the United States? Especially — this really sticks in the Polish craw — when Washington has waived visa requirements for citizens of nearly every Western European nation, including Great Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, and Ireland.

US consular officials reply that Poland is not being discriminated against, but that it simply hasn't met the conditions stipulated by Congress for inclusion in the visa waiver program — starting with the requirement that a country's visa denial rate be no higher than 3 percent. Currently, about 25 percent of Polish visa applicants get rejected. But since it is US embassies and consulates that do the rejecting, the 3-percent rule strikes many Poles as a Catch-22.

"The State Department tells us our refusal rate is too high," says Marek Purowski, a spokesman for the Polish embassy in Washington. "Well, why are you refusing visas? What is it based on? The criteria seem to be things like — students who aren't married and don't have a car or property get turned down," presumably because they would be more likely to overstay their visas or work illegally in the United States. "So an honest student in Poland who saves for many years in order to legitimately visit the US will be rejected," Purowski says. "And then his rejection gets held against us" as a reason to require visas.

Donate to JWR

The visa issue has become the biggest irritant in US-Polish relations. "It cuts across all layers of Polish society," says US Ambassador Victor Ashe. "From the hotel chambermaid to the business executive, every Pole is familiar with this issue" — and virtually all of them are upset about it. With more than 9 million Americans of Polish descent, many Poles feel a particular kinship with the United States. That kinship has been reflected in national policy: At a time of rising anti-US sentiment, Poland is notably pro-American. So much so, notes Ashe, that he is one of the few US ambassadors in Europe who doesn't need a security detail.

Polish loyalty to the United States has been most conspicuous when it comes to Iraq. Not only did the Poles resist French and German pressure to be "good Europeans" and oppose the war, they contributed more troops to the US-led coalition than any other European country except Britain and Italy. Naively, perhaps, they expected their support to be rewarded, and Washington's refusal to ease the visa requirement is widely interpreted here as ingratitude.

Sure, there are good reasons not to exempt Poland from the existing visa regime. But there is an even better reason to consider doing so, at least on a trial basis — a reason articulated best by George W. Bush. "Listen," the president told reporters in February, "Poland has been a fantastic ally." Indeed it has. And in statecraft as in private life, special friends deserve special consideration.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

Jeff Jacoby Archives

© 2005, Boston Globe