Ways Around Indonesia Passport Bar, Say ‘Flattered’ Israeli Author

Etgar Keret has told The Bali Times he has accepted an invitation to attend this year’s Ubud Writers and Readers Festival and believes there were ways to get around the Indonesian ban on Israeli passports. “There are all kinds of diplomatic procedures,” he said.

But he would not be drawn on whether he had access to a non-Israeli passport: “I don’t find this question very interesting,” he said by phone from Israel.

Of his invitation to go to Ubud, he said: “My assumption was the festival would not have approached me if they didn’t have a way for me to come into the country. I was very flattered that the festival invited me.”

Keret told The Bali Times that at home in Israel he was known for his leftwing views and his anti-government stance. He added: “I have Indonesian friends but I’ve never met them in Indonesia. So it would be good to have a dialogue (at the festival). It would be very fruitful to attend.”

“I was invited in the past to festivals in Indonesia but couldn’t attend, for technical reasons — my mother was ill.”

He said his proposed visit to Indonesia would not be a first for an Israeli citizen.

“I don’t think I’d be the first Israeli to walk on Indonesian soil. If you have a visit for a specific reason, and are not a tourist, you can get in.”

And he sought to distance himself from the actions of his country’s government.

“I’m an outspoken liberal and peace activist in Israel. My opinions are not even close to the statements of the Israeli government.”

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