Where is Sarah Ali?

Israel/Palestine
on 33 Comments
missing sarah

Missing Sarah Ali: Yousef M. Aljamal, Refaat Alareer, Rawan Yaghi

In January 2013, I shared a cab ride across the Sinai desert with a Palestinian professor. He taught English literature at the Islamic University of Gaza but was then working on his PhD at a university in Malaysia. We were headed from Cairo to the border crossing at Rafah, about 250 miles. It was a very long trip. He took a manuscript out of his briefcase and handed it to me.

Actually, this story begins in September 2012 when the publisher of Just World Books heard that I was traveling to Gaza. Helena Cobban contacted me and asked if I would carry some books that had been requested by friends into Gaza. I knew there was no FED EX or postal service into the Gaza Strip. Israel has essentially tightened the screws on 1.8 million people there, and the siege makes normal delivery impossible. So I agreed.

The professor’s manuscript turned out to be the first compilation of short stories written by his students at the Islamic University of Gaza. He was hoping to get them published and he was obviously very proud of his students and very excited about the project.

Low and behold, the publisher who brought his manuscript to life a year later was Helena Cobban of Just World Books. The title they chose was perfect — Gaza Writes Back: Short Stories by Young Writers in Gaza, Palestine.

Gaza Writes Back Cover Art

Gaza Writes Back Cover Art

When I learned there was a book tour planned in the U.S.A. this Spring, I was very excited but also skeptical that the professor/editor or any of the contributors would be able to make it to America. Travel out of Gaza is nearly impossible for most Palestinians, and getting a U.S. Visa is an unfulfilled dream for many.

The publisher and the other sponsor of the book tour — the American Friends Service Committee — succeeded in helping Refaat Alareer (the professor/editor), Yousef Aljamal, Rawan Yaghi, and Sarah Ali (all contributors to the book) to obtain U.S. Visas for their travel. Alhamdulillah!

The logistics seemed to be working out. A month-long tour was planned from the East Coast to the West. Check it out here.

Gaza Strip superimposed on Manhattan, New York

Gaza Strip superimposed on Manhattan, New York

Sadly, Israeli authorities screwed up the plans.

Sarah Ali received a permit from Israel to travel from Gaza to Jerusalem to apply and interview for her U.S. visa. However, after she received her visa, Israel would not allow her to travel out of Gaza to Jordan to join her colleagues on tour.

Refaat and Yousef were studying in Malaysia and had no trouble traveling. Rawan was studying in London at Oxford University. The Israeli authorities couldn’t stop her from traveling.

Sarah remains in Gaza, with only a cardboard cut out sitting on stage in her place.

This article was originally published at Lora A. Lucero’s blog ماذا غزة؟ Why Gaza?

 

About Lora Lucero

Lora A. Lucero is currently a community journalist, climate change educator, and a retired land use attorney and city planner. Her home is in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. Follow her on Twitter at @LoraLucero

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33 Responses

  1. just
    April 8, 2014, 9:26 am

    “Sarah remains in Gaza, with only a cardboard cut out sitting on stage in her place.”

    Shame on the Israelis– but everyone knows that…they don’t care, they want to keep all Palestinian humans prisoner, or worse.

    Sarah’s voice becomes increasingly powerful because of their heinous actions.

    Thank you Lora.

    • mondonut
      April 8, 2014, 10:19 am

      Heinous actions?

      Please explain how Israel can prevent a Gazan from travelling to Cairo and from there to Amman?

      • Woody Tanaka
        April 8, 2014, 10:44 am

        “Please explain how Israel can prevent a Gazan from travelling to Cairo and from there to Amman?”

        “Hi, Barack? Yes. It’s Bibi. What? Ha ha. No, no need for you to blow a donkey again. But thanks for offering! Listen, Barack, I have some instructions for you. Are you listening carefully? Okay. Call Cairo and instruct them to prevent Sarah Ali from traveling out of Gaza. Yes. Sarah, S-A-R-A-H, Ali A-L-I. Yes. No. No, feel free to threated to withhold their funding if they don’t comply with my order. Great! Wonderful. Okay. The same to Michelle and the girls. Good-bye.”

      • talknic
        April 8, 2014, 11:00 am

        @ mondonut “Please explain how Israel can prevent a Gazan from travelling to Cairo….”

        Under the Peace Treaty with Egypt and the crossings agreement of 2005. Israel IS the Occupying Power.

        “…and from there to Amman?”

        From where?

      • mondonut
        April 8, 2014, 11:04 am

        talknic says: Under the Peace Treaty with Egypt and the crossings agreement of 2005. Israel IS the Occupying Power.
        =========================================
        I am sure that makes sense in the fantasy world that you have constructed for yourself, however in the real world Israel exercises no control over that border.

      • Inanna
        April 9, 2014, 5:52 am

        mondonut, talknic is right. Under the Camp David Accords, and the MoU brokered by Condi Rice in 2005, Egypt has basically given up a chunk of its sovereignty to Israel when it comes to Gaza. If Israel chooses not to allow a Gazan out, Egypt basically has to accede to it. The two countries coordinate when it comes to the Gaza/Egypt border and there have only been a few isolated instances when Egypt has not cooperated. The one who is out of touch with reality it you. I suggest that rather than deriding others, you go do some reading to fill up the deficiencies in your knowledge.

      • talknic
        April 9, 2014, 1:30 pm

        mondonut “I am sure that makes sense in the fantasy world that you have constructed for yourself, however in the real world Israel exercises no control over that border”

        Israel is the Occupying Power, not Egypt. Under the Peace treaty Egypt is obliged to Israeli security. Under the 2005 crossings agreement the Occupying Power has final say in when who and what moves to and from Gaza.

      • talknic
        April 9, 2014, 1:35 pm

        @ Inanna LOL … hophmi is a propagandist. It’s not in their brief to learn anything.

        Their job is to deny, lie, obfuscate, misrepresent, post complete nonsense and when faced with incontrovertible evidence, try to change the focus, make false accusations, shoot the messenger etc or simply run away

      • talknic
        April 9, 2014, 1:47 pm

        Oooops Mondonut… hophmi…they’re all the same, all have the same schtick

      • puppies
        April 9, 2014, 3:24 pm

        @mondonut – apart from the fact that the Egypto-Azraeian treaty fully gives the control to Azrael (look that one up, too), remind me –who hired the mass murderers in Cairo to stage another overthrow?

      • adele
        April 9, 2014, 4:14 pm

        Why should Sarah have to travel out of Egypt when Gaza is in Palestine (aka, Israel), the country she was born in and resides in? After all, when I need to travel out of the US, I don’t have to go to an airport in Canada in order to fly to London.

        Hasbara attempt # 1 failed. Try again.

  2. Refaat
    April 8, 2014, 10:05 am

    Ironically, Sarah shares the name of the wife of Netanyahu. Sarah is one of the most common Israeli names. But sadly for our Sarah, she was born on the wrong side of the fence to the wrong ethnicity group. Sarah Ali, to the Israeli officials, seems to have the wrong blood running in her veins. By no means Sarah Ali comes to resemble any Jewish Sarah. Therefore, she has less rights, if any, and deprived of all privileges given to jews, even if this jew happens be born in the jungles of Africa or Brazil!

    • just
      April 8, 2014, 10:11 am

      Incredible and heartbreaking, isn’t it?

      It could not be more blatant.

      Thank you Refaat.

  3. American
    April 8, 2014, 10:08 am

    Israel upholds travel ban for Gaza Olympian
    Palestinian Olympian Nader Masri prevented from leaving coastal strip to participate in marathon in West Bank.

    Last updated: 08 Apr 2014 10:42
    Masri was one of many Gazans denied permission to travel to take part in the West Bank marathon [Reuters]
    Israel’s high court has upheld a decision by the military to prevent a Gaza Olympian from leaving the coastal strip to participate in a marathon in the West Bank, another Palestinian territory.
    Tuesday’s ruling ends hopes of 34-year-old Nader Masri to participate in Friday’s marathon in Bethlehem.
    Masri, who participated in the 2008 Olympics, says he is disappointed because he hoped to compete against runners outside Gaza.
    Israel has severely restricted the movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza since Hamas took control over the Palestinian territory in 2007.
    The restrictions are also enforced by Gaza’s neighbour Egypt.
    Israel says only humanitarian hardship cases are allowed to leave Gaza.
    The judges say they cannot interfere in the military’s decisions but that it should consider easing the travel ban.”
    Source:
    AP

    Petty vindictiveness is a hallmark of the Jewish State….its sick, get rid of it.

    • Annie Robbins
      April 8, 2014, 10:25 am

      looking on the bright side, israel didn’t shoot 10 bullets into his feet:

      http://mondoweiss.net/2014/03/vicious-palestinian-athletes.html

      or abduct him and throw him in jail without charge for a few years as they have treated other athletes:

      http://mondoweiss.net/2012/06/sarsaks-willingness-to-die-gains-him-freedom-after-92-days-of-hunger-strike.html

      • DaBakr
        April 8, 2014, 12:28 pm

        that ’10 bullets in the feet’ story has been debunked so many ways its ridiculous for you to keep repeating your own lies. Just google the two names and you’ll see photos of their feet in the hospital and they are NOT wounded. And even more-there are pics of the 2 walking out of the hospital in Jordan (after first being treated in Israel) freely w/o aid. One on crutches due to a knee bandage and the other w/o any apparent bandages. And, smiling broadly at their new ‘hero’ status.

      • Annie Robbins
        April 8, 2014, 12:43 pm

        been debunked so many ways its ridiculous …Just google

        ha! it’s you making an argument with silly allegations, don’t tell me what to google. link to the photo yourself (dated near the time of the assault on Jan 31st). and no lying islamophobic websites either. i’m sure jpost would have been all over this had it been ‘debunked’.

        if you plan on debunking zirin, http://mondoweiss.net/2014/03/challenges-sportswriters-palestinian.html who is sportswriter, you’ll need more ammunition than mere chutzpa.

        The part of the response that was truly jarring however was the numerous private queries I received from prominent members of the media. I am choosing to keep their identities private because their correspondence to me was private and I will respect that. The queries contained no curiosity about Israel’s possible expulsion from FIFA. They all instead openly doubted that the shooting of the two young men had even taken place. Was I sure this really happened? When I pointed to my initial sources, the response by numerous people was, “Do you have any sources that are not Palestinian?” One person, writing for a major sports website, sent me numerous queries that I did not respond to, and then when the facts of the shooting appeared in the Israeli paper Haaretz, said to me, “Forget previous queries. I see news of the shooting on Haaretz. Never mind.” The assumption of mendacity affixed to Palestinian sources spoke volumes.

      • adele
        April 9, 2014, 4:18 pm

        Israel is so nice debakr, first it shoots and then it offers free medical assistance. One couldn’t ask for a nicer, more generous and humane occupier.

        Here’s a freebie: next time you want to spout your hasbarf lies, PROVIDE EVIDENCE.

      • talknic
        April 9, 2014, 1:57 pm

        @ DaBakr Such is the nonsense of Israel’s idiot apologistas

        “And even more-there are pics of the 2 walking out of the hospital in Jordan (after first being treated in Israel) freely w/o aid. One on crutches due to a knee bandage and the other w/o any apparent bandages”

        “after first being treated in Israel” … Uh huh … treated for what if they were as you claim “NOT wounded” ??

    • Kay24
      April 8, 2014, 1:12 pm

      I was disgusted when I read this article on Haaretz. The Israeli courts are just as mean and vindictive as the IDF. These are not human beings, they are vicious monsters, who have abused and ill treated these people for years, and still get away with it. I am equally disgusted that our tax money goes to keep them comfortable, and healthy enough, so that they can continue their crimes against their victims.

      • DaBakr
        April 8, 2014, 4:45 pm

        Thats right, Israel is nothing but ‘mean mean and more mean’. Nasty and horrible country and people. Nothing as mean has ever existed like Israel before-on this Earth. And BTW-did you know that the other day on a show watched by something like 40% of Israeli households:
        Atamna-Ismaeel, a 33-year-old Arab-Israeli mother of three with a PhD in microbiology, won the fourth season of the Israeli version of the TV cooking competition “MasterChef” on Sunday. Atamna-Ismaeel dreams of opening an Arab-Jewish cooking school, one that she will surely now be able to build.

      • just
        April 8, 2014, 7:43 pm

        Wonderful! A genuinely wonderful moment of ‘familial’ love and kindness– best of luck to her and her family.

        I guess that her falafel, her hummus, her pita, her imagination and talent, etc. were awesome and actually original.

        Wasn’t there a recently crowned Miss. Israel that was Ethiopian, or something?

      • DaBakr
        April 8, 2014, 10:36 pm

        Yes, but she was Jewish from Ethiopia and this woman identifies as an Arab Israeli who is not Jewish and whose family has lived in Israel since its birth. Not sure of your point but certain it was meant to be disparaging.

      • talknic
        April 9, 2014, 2:44 pm

        DaBakr “Thats right, Israel is nothing but ‘mean mean and more mean’. Nasty and horrible country and people. Nothing as mean has ever existed like Israel before-on this Earth.”

        If you say so…

        Meanwhile because other countries have been as mean as Israel and worse, there is International Law, a UN Charter and numerous conventions adopted to attempt to prevent such behaviour. All of which Israel is obliged to uphold.

        The hundreds of opportunities extended to Israel to comply with the law thru UNSC resolutions have all been ignored. Squandered on the illegal expansionist policies of the Zionist Movement‘s state

        “And BTW-did you know that the other day on a show watched by something like 40% of Israeli households..etc etc..”

        Completely irrelevant to International Law and Israel’s illegal activities in non-Israeli territories. Read UNSC res 476

      • eljay
        April 9, 2014, 3:04 pm

        >> Thats right, Israel is nothing but ‘mean mean and more mean’. Nasty and horrible country and people. Nothing as mean has ever existed like Israel before-on this Earth.

        What a stupid thing to say. Of course something as mean – that is to say, as oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist – as Israel has existed before.

        The point of progress is to move away from such mean things – to move toward justice, equality, accountability and morality.

        Zio-supremacists seem determined to fight progress. As long as they can be just a little bit better than the worst, they seem to have no interest in being as good as the best.

      • Light
        April 9, 2014, 3:34 pm

        So what DaBakr. Jackie Robinson played major league baseball while at the same time the buses, schools and the majority of businesses were segregated.

      • Light
        April 9, 2014, 3:35 pm

        BTW-did you know that the other day on a show watched by something like 40% of Israeli households:
        Atamna-Ismaeel, a 33-year-old Arab-Israeli mother of three with a PhD in microbiology, won the fourth season of the Israeli version of the TV cooking competition

        So what DaBakr. Jackie Robinson played major league baseball while at the same time the buses, schools and other professions were segregated.

  4. seafoid
    April 8, 2014, 11:15 am

    Gaza is a separate state according to the bots. It’s not occupied either. According to the bots.

    • adele
      April 9, 2014, 4:21 pm

      apparently installing an electrified fence with militarized towers around Gaza is not occupation. The lies is what will do them in.

  5. John Douglas
    April 8, 2014, 11:58 am

    And the Zionists complain about the ASA vote as restricting academic freedom!

  6. MHughes976
    April 9, 2014, 2:20 pm

    Just to point out that ‘studying in London at Oxford University’ is a bit misleading, those two cities being about 50 miles apart and of very different academic history.

  7. Annie Robbins
    April 9, 2014, 7:01 pm

    Sarah Ali received a permit from Israel to travel from Gaza to Jerusalem to apply and interview for her U.S. visa. However, after she received her visa, Israel would not allow her to travel out of Gaza to Jordan to join her colleagues on tour.

    and it takes a 1/2 hr to travel from jerusalen to ben gurion. so there was no security risk involved. it’s just out of spite and cruelty.

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