Israeli stamps in US passport get student deported from UK

Chip Cantor, persona non grata in the UK

Chip Cantor, persona non grata in the UK

I’ve recently written that Israel’s greatest enemy in the future will not be Iran — which I predict will soon have its fangs pulled — but Western Europe.

I’ve also noted a recent sharp increase in anti-Jewish expression in the UK (see also here).

The incident reported below in a Kansas City Jewish newspaper (h/t Caroline Glick) may represent a new low in British behavior, unless there is something very significant that is left out.

Chip Cantor told his story to two local television stations last week. On Tuesday, June 4, the 23-year-old student told KMBC he was traveling to the U.K. to visit and gain summer work experience and to participate in a fundraiser for a child who has cancer. He left Kansas City on Wednesday, May 29, on an early-morning flight and waited in line to go through customs after landing in the country after 10 p.m. London time. When he got to the front of the line, a female customs agent began looking at his passport and treated him courteously. The routine exercise ended when she noticed the two pages in his passport with Israeli visas.

“I spent my freshman year studying abroad in Israel,” he said. …

Chip’s father Chuck Cantor said his son told him the female customs agent — who for some reason was not dressed in a customs uniform — was very pleasant toward him until she saw the Israel stamps in his passport. Then she simply walked away with his passport without speaking a word to him. Chip told his father he estimates she was gone 45 minutes to an hour. He never saw her again.

“He has a lot of Israel stamps,” Chuck said. Chip has been to Israel several times including two programs sponsored by Young Judaea — the six-week Machon program and a gap-year program. Chip Cantor graduated from Shawnee Mission East High School in 2009 and will be a senior in the fall at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Finally, according to Chuck, a different, uniformed customs agent came to see him. Chip was told they were taking his bags and detaining him for questioning. He was not told why.

Once in the interview room Chip told his father that he was told if he changed any of his answers to any questions, he was going to go to prison.

“He said, ‘Why would I change my answers? I told you the truth,’ ” Chuck said.

Chip wasn’t allowed to be in sight of his luggage and eventually was put into what he described to his father as a detention cell.

“At some point a woman who was wearing a burka came to the cell to photograph him,” Chuck said. At that point he was fingerprinted as well.

As she’s doing this, she said to him, “We’re putting your name and fingerprints and photos into a database. From now on it is going to be very difficult for you to ever travel in the United Kingdom or anywhere in the E.U. It will be up to each individual country to decide if they want to admit you,” Chuck said his son was told.

Chuck said Chip kept telling the customs agents he had not committed any crimes or done anything wrong. Eventually another agent came to tell Chip he was being deported. Now several hours after he was detained, Chip was given the opportunity to call his father.

Chuck said he advised his son to ask to speak to someone from the American consulate or the U.S. embassy. Those requests were denied. …

In the morning, Chip was escorted to the plane by another customs agent for a flight back to the United States. At this time Chip asked the agent for his passport and was refused.

“The guy walks him onto the plane and in front of everyone, like a prisoner, he says here is this man’s passport. Do not give him his passport until you land in the United States,” Chuck said he was told. The American Airlines purser told Chip that, in 17 years flying internationally, he had never seen anything like it.

Less than 36 hours after leaving Kansas City, Chip was back in town.

There are more details in the story, and some are pretty ugly.  Naturally, UK officials denied that anything improper occurred, and claimed that Cantor’s visa was not in order. Cantor said that he had appropriate documentation, and his family has contacted their congressman to demand an explanation.

It used to be the case — probably it still is — that if you wanted to visit an Arab country you needed a passport without any entry stamps from Israel. So is the UK now the same?

Friends that live in the UK tell me that anti-Jewish feeling always existed under the service, but they do not recall a time when it was so often publicly expressed.

As I speculated in my previous post, Europeans — and apparently that includes Brits — may find it disturbing to compare Israel’s cultural and economic vitality with their own malaise and fear of submersion in an alien Muslim culture. So perhaps they are striking out in frustration at the usual scapegoats?

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6 Responses to “Israeli stamps in US passport get student deported from UK”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    I do not know how exactly, but there certainly should be a ‘follow-up’ to this incident. Perhaps a lawsuit, perhaps protests on the part of U.S. officials against the British authorities.

  2. David Olesker says:

    First, I’d like to express my sympathy for the young man in question who was probably terrified by the whole experience as well as having his summer plans ruined and loosing the cost of a transatlantic airfare.

    I’m a dual UK/Israel national (oleh from the UK). Israelis visit the UK all the time. At least four direct flights travel between Tel Aviv and various UK airports every day full of Israelis. Americans who have visited Israel visit the UK all the time. I’m willing to bet that this story actually relates to two sentences in the account: “the 23-year-old student told KMBC he was traveling to the U.K. to visit and gain summer work experience” and “UK officials denied that anything improper occurred, and claimed that Cantor’s visa was not in order. Cantor said that he had appropriate documentation”.

    He probably did not have the required work permit and honestly (because he had nothing to hide) told the immigration official that he planned to work in the UK.

    The UK is very restrictive in issuing work visas to non-EU members, see and

    The UK’s Jewish Chronicle reached the same conclusion as I did:

  3. Vic Rosenthal says:

    Well… there is the question of the anti-Jewish remarks. There is the statement that he will be in an EU database of undesirables. There is the fact that he was not allowed to contact US officials.

    The JC article does not exactly reach the conclusion that the work permit was missing — it merely reports that the border authorities suggested this (although they “don’t comment” on individual cases).

    There will probably be more information coming out.

  4. David Olesker says:

    “Well… there is the question of the anti-Jewish remarks.” Agreed.

    “There is the statement that he will be in an EU database of undesirables.” Standard. EU states share information on visa issues.

    “There is the fact that he was not allowed to contact US officials.” Having not been admitted into the UK, may not have been entitled to it, it would depend on the exact treaty obligations.

    Most US citizens have little experience of immigration difficulties with Western countries. When they do experience it they have nothing to compare it to. It can be intimidating and unpleasant. The fact that you have almost no legal rights in such a situation is a shock.

    Don’t interpret this as an attack on the US, but such experiences are not uncommon for holders of Western passports entering America. Countries have absolute discretion over what foreigners they allow to cross their borders. It is not uncommon for such a situation to chew up some otherwise blameless people on the margins.

    I’m not saying this was fair, only that there isn’t enough evidence to categorize this as an antisemitic incident and certainly not as an expression of anti-Israel policy by the UK government.

    There are enough undoubted problems in the UK without dragging in ones that are doubtful at best.

  5. Olgordo says:

    I strongly disagree with David Olesker. This incident was a clear demonstration of the anti-Semitic climate in the UK today. Anti-Semitism is endemic here.

    True that the UK continues to pose as a friend of Israel, but with friends like that, who needs enemies!

  6. David Olesker says:

    I’d be the last to minimize the extent of antisemitism in the UK. As I wrote, “There are enough undoubted problems in the UK without dragging in ones that are doubtful at best”. The quotes attributed to the staff are antisemitic in content.

    It just seems more likely, given:
    a) the large number of visitors with Israeli stamps in their passports admitted every day into the UK, and
    b) the very restrictive work visa requirements in the UK that the cause of his exclusion was a visa issue.

    That the young man experienced an unpleasant experience that may have been aggravated by vulgar antisemitism is not in doubt.