I’m making plans to visit Italy in mid- June to attend the International Making Cities Livable Conference in Rome. I’m excited. I’ve never been to Italy.
Two colleagues from Gaza, an engineer and an architect, worked with me earlier this year to research and write a paper for the conference. We submitted it, and we’re very pleased that it was accepted. We’ve been invited to present our paper to this group of academics, planners, urbanists and architects.
As an American, I can travel to Italy without first securing a Visa, so I’m busy looking for the cheap flights, cheap accommodations in Rome, and a cheap rail pass while traveling in Italy. There are many bargains.
My colleagues from Gaza must apply for a Visa from the Italian officials, and for permission to exit the Gaza Strip from the Israeli officials. A double whammy. Here’s what Italy wants:
- Entry visa application form
- recent passport-size photograph
- valid travel document whose expiry date is three months longer than that of the visa requested
- return ticket (or booking) or evidence that the applicant has their own means of transport
- proof that the applicant has sufficient means of subsistence as required by the Directive of the Ministry of the Interior dated 1st March 2000
- supporting documentation in relation to the applicant’s social and professional status
- health insurance covering a minimum of €30,000 for emergency hospitalisation and repatriation expenses, valid throughout the Schengen area
- proof of accommodation (hotel booking, Declaration of hospitality, declaration whereby accommodation costs shall be borne by the person inviting)
My colleagues have complied with these onerous requirements. One was rejected by Israel, the other was rejected by Italy.
I’m traveling to Italy with a heavy heart, angry that this bureaucratic red-tape and BULLSHIT are preventing my colleagues from joining me. This presentation will not be the same without them.
I’m trying to think of ways to use my privileged status as an American to highlight this unfairness and injustice. Any ideas?