The Jordanian ministry has issued an unofficial warning advising Israeli tourists not to wear religious clothing or conduct religious ceremonies in public places during their stay in the country.
According to the instruction, part of which was received by Jordanian newspaper Al-Arab Al-Yawm, religious Jewish symbols are a sensitive issue among the Hashemite Kingdom's citizens, especially in light of the regional situation.
A knowledgeable source told the newspaper that the order was issued following complaints received by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities against what was defined as "unacceptable patterns of behavior on the part of Israeli tourists during their visits to antiquity sites."
'Open prayers a provocation'
In recent years, Jordan has become a tourist attraction among religious and ultra-Orthodox populations seeking to visit Jebel Haroun, the supposed burial place of Aaron, the brother of Prophet Moses, as well as Mount Nebo, where Moses was buried according to Jewish tradition.
Jordanian media reported that religious clothing and public prayers evoked a conflict with the local population, which is mostly Palestinian.
'Some haredim pray ostentatiously' (photo courtesy of Kikar Hashabat)
Yossi Fattal, head of the Israel Tourist and Travel Agents Association, said last week that Israeli travel agencies had not received any new orders in regards of Jordan.
"There is a travel warning for Jordan to begin with, so the Counter-Terrorism Bureau asks Israelis not to travel there as it is not a safe place for Israelis," he said, adding that "this report appears to have less of a political meaning and more of a practical meaning."
Doron Yosha, a tour guide specializing in trips to Jordan, says that "the Jordanian reports stem from the fact that once in a few months there are haredim who wish to create a provocation and travel to the tombs of Aaron and Noah. They pray ostentatiously, as if to show to the other side that 'this is ours.'
"These provocations are not seen favorably by the Jordanian press, just like we would have reacted if a Muslim had insisted on praying at the Western Wall. Nonetheless, the Jordanian police say they want to defend the Israelis, even those who create provocations."
Yosha adds that "there is no problem to tour Jordan. We send groups there all the time and they feel very safe. Jordan is a country which has almost nothing. Its entire economy is built on the fact that there is security and tourists can travel safely."
'Looks cannot be concealed'
Kikar Hashabat reporter Israel Cohen visited Aaron's tomb in Jordan several months ago with a group of haredim. Cohen admits that the trip was filled with fears, but that they did not prevent the travelers from praying openly with praying shawls and phylacteries at the burial site.
Praying in Jebel Haroun (photo courtesy of Kikar Hashabat)
"At the entrance to Jordan there were no problems and our prayer shawls or phylacteries were not taken from us, as has happened in the past to religious travelers," he tells Ynet.
"Most group members, who wear black pants and a white shirt all year long, made an effort not to stand out and wore colored pants and shirts. They all wore hats and keffiyehs, and their sidelocks were pushed into the hats."
As for the complaints of openly praying with prayer shawls and phylacteries, Cohen says: "That's the reason we went there. Otherwise why go?
"Besides, when we go to Europe we are also supposed to hide Jewish signs, and so everyone wears a casquette. The thing is that no one wears a casquette there, so when they see someone with a casquette they immediately know he is Jewish.
"If you have a beard and sidelocks and you wear a keffiyeh, you may stand out a bit less, but everyone knows you're a haredi Jew."
The Prime Minister's Office chose not to address the question whether a new order had been issued, and instead referred tourists to the website of the Counter-Terrorism Bureau, which says there is a "basic concrete threat" and that Israelis should "avoid visiting or staying in all parts of the Jordanian territory."
The Jordanian Embassy was unavailable for comment.