“You like travel? You should go to the MATTA Fair!” my colleague said. “MATTA Fair?” I asked. And the chit chat goes on and on without a worry about the bright screens, urgent emails and staring bosses behind us. It did get my attention honestly, as I kept thinking about it even after I got home. So I turned on my lappy and asked google for the MATTA Fair site. We have this in our country as well and we call it TTE (TravelTour Expo). Anyhow, I just paid online an entrance fee of RM 4.10 and waited long nights till the day came.

Right after I got off from PWTC train station and walked on the overpass to the Putra World Trade Centre, I only have two countries in mind to search for: South Korea and Israel. Luckily I found South Korea on the International Countries section located on Halls 1 and 2 (had to walk a long way again though). I see so many ravishing good deals on every corners of every agency stalls for Korea and even asked agents directly the packages. You see, this is my target vacation country hopefully next year with my girlfriend.

However, I roamed both Halls 1 and 2 and even scrutinized every piece of leaflets, magazines, signboards and posts but NO Israel! I then got so disappointed on this and finally asked uncle on one of the famous agencies on Hall 1, and he answered:

“No – you can’t find it anywhere. We Malaysians are not allowed to go to Israel. Maybe you can arrange a group, contact one of the agencies here and they call for you. But no – you will not find it here.”

In my country, Israel is not forbidden although only a few are fortunate enough to go because it costs around USD 4300 for an 8-day tour only in a religious group. It then got me thinking so I researched about it and found out some of the reasons why:

  • No formal diplomatic relations between Malaysia and Israel.

Diplomatic relations does not equate to travel ban. However, Malaysian government has no power to handle anything in the state of Israel which means that if you get into trouble, nobody can save you. Malaysians, however, who are Christians may enter but with tougher restrictions and only if belonging to pilgrimages.

  • No support from Malaysian embassy/consular services.

As discussed previously, you have no one to rely on in case something happens because there is no representative on your country to handle the situation. Thus, there is no way to liaise your way to get there unless your purpose is deemed religious.

  • As far as the Government of Malaysia is concerned, Israel does not exist.

Malaysia is mostly composed of Muslims. Due to the never ending Palestinian issues, like many Muslim countries, Malaysia not only support Palestine but look at Israel and Jews as their no. 1 enemy. Also the passport clearly states “The passport is valid for all countries except Israel.”

  • No flights from Malaysia to Israel.

The nearest flight you could board is from Bangkok IIRC (El-Air Israeli Airline).

I have also asked my colleague and he said that if Malaysians go to Israel, they could be recruited by IS (no proof of this). I am a Christian (but not Malaysian) and I love to bring my parents there as my father’s sister and his parents have already travelled there with so many stories. Maybe why it goes deep within me is that every time I go to my grandparents, my grandma always recount her stories of her thrilling adventures, miraculous blessings and beautiful experiences in the Land of Jesus Christ.

I hope that when time comes that we as a family can go there, there is no war anymore. Cheers!

 

References:

  • Quora (2012, December) Retrieved from: https://www.quora.com/Malaysia-Why-does-the-Malaysian-government-ban-its-citizens-from-travelling-to-Israel
  • Wikipedia (2016, January) Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel%E2%80%93Malaysia_relations
  • Cilisos (2016, January) Retrieved from: http://cilisos.my/actually-ah-why-are-malaysians-not-allowed-to-travel-to-israel/
  • Reddit (2015, August) Retrieved from: https://www.reddit.com/r/singapore/comments/3bzalp/visiting_israel_will_i_not_be_allowed_to_enter/
  • Yahoo (2008) Retrieved from: https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080228060310AArBHME
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