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Subject: Re: Visa difficulties for artists
From: Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 11 Mar 2017 18:48:17 -0800

text/plain (69 lines)

If you can afford it, going to Israel (or Russia) you do “paid corruption.” 

You get your hotel concierge to sign you up for “VIP Gold Service” - someone meets you at the jetway of your plane at Ben Gurion, takes you down a special exit and you’re driven to the Masada lounge where you sit and eat fruit and cookies while someone does all your immigration details. Same thing on the way out - you go through your own private little x-ray machine and you don’t wait in any lines.

Same thing going to Moscow or St. Petersburg, but you have to be staying in one of the 5-stars to get the service and, depending, it costs about $300-$500 per person each way.

Wasn’t there a really famous director coming to the Met a couple of years ago who was really put out that nobody could arrange this kind of service for him coming to the US?

If you’re going to Israel, however, you still have to go through it to get on the plane and there’s no way around that. The first time I flew to Tel Aviv, I happened to have business in Asia (Taiwan) first, so I was taking the El Al flight from Hong Kong. Not many Asian carriers go to Tel Aviv (Cathay Pacific just started from Hong Kong) because Tel Aviv has gone out of its way NOT to be a convenient “hub.”

I was swimming through the questions until they got to my colleague. American citizen but born in Teheran. That stopped things dead and the two of us went through an hour grilling with the same questions fired back at each of us.

Bob, you’re exactly right. They were looking for us to lose our cool or for inconsistencies. My colleague is the sort who easily can get emotional and outraged and I’d rather lectured her before about taking deep breaths, staying calm and channeling the Dory Fish from “Finding Nemo” and “Finding Dory”: “Just keep swimming.”

A couple more Israel anecdotes:

El Al flight from New York landing at Ben Gurion in December and the pilot announces:
“El Al regulations require that you stay in your seat with your seat belt fastened until the plane has come to a complete stop. Ben Gurion regulations require that you keep your cell phone off until you have entered the terminal.
For those of you sitting with your seat belts on and cell phones off, Merry Christmas and enjoy your visit.
For those of you walking around the cabin talking on your cell phones, Happy Hanukkah and welcome home.”

When I was there (probably the fourth time) last August, I finally got un-lazy enough to try to learn some common phrases in Hebrew. I asked the director of my group there, “How do you say ‘excuse me’”? He said, “we don’t”

But let me also put in a shameless pitch for Israel. Don’t be afraid. It’s a wonderful place to go. The people have an incredible gusto for life and the historic places are stunningly beautiful as well as historically fascinating and the food is terrific. In terms of danger, there are probably at least 20 major cities in the US where you’re more likely to have something bad happen to you than anyplace there.

Max Paley

> On Mar 11, 2017, at 5:49 PM, [log in to unmask] wrote:
> There is actually a technique for dealing with border guards - very similar to how one deals with police.
> You answer all questions promptly, without pausing to think of an answer, and always in a cool manner, no matter the question, no matter how long it takes. Part of the guard's mission is to unnerve you to see if you loose your cool. So don't fall for it or expect any special treatment because you're a citizen or because of any other reason.
> I'm sure there's a number of people randomly selected who will undergo further grilling, but a traveler's tension is what the guards are looking for.
> Anyone who's been to Israel knows exactly what to do. ;)
> Bob Kosovsky, Ph.D. -- Curator, Rare Books and Manuscripts,
> Music Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
> blog:   Twitter: @kos2
>  Listowner: OPERA-L ; SMT-ANNOUNCE ; SoundForge-users
> --- My opinions do not necessarily represent those of my institutions ---
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