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Entry Denied

Israel/Palestine
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On July 12th, about five days after Israel began to bombard Gaza with the airstrikes of Operation Protective Edge, I arrived at the Israeli-operated Allenby border terminal to cross into the occupied West Bank. Followed by ten hours of detention, interrogation, and some humiliation, I was denied entry by the IDF. My long-anticipated plans to return to Beit Sahur – to learn, do research, and assist a friend’s community development project for the next two months – were dissolved by two magavniks, who sent me back to Jordan without a legitimate reason and at my own expense.

While this experience is hardly unusual among Palestinians or Arab Americans at an Israeli border, American Jews and non-Arab travelers are typically granted the privilege of entering Israel and the Occupied Territories. I previously took advantage of this privilege, entering and leaving Israel through Tel Aviv multiple times. However, in the words of one of the soldiers who detained me at Allenby: “These smolanim – they’re worse than the Arabs.” The following account, like every account of a privileged foreign tourist or aid worker denied entry into Israel, is indicative of Israel’s oppression of Palestinians – and the measures that the IDF will take to uphold that oppression.

Even at 8:30AM, shortly after the bridge to the Allenby border crossing opens for the day, about 200 sweaty travelers already stand in a winding line, waiting to proceed through Israeli security. As I scan the crowd of weary faces and Palestinian passports, I consider that I’m probably the only non-Arab traveler in the crowd. My gaze through the open-air room lands on a giant blue banner beside the security line. The banner appears to simply read, “Welcome!” in English, followed by its translation in Hebrew and Arabic below it. But upon a closer look, I notice a striking difference: the Arabic script reads “Welcome back”; The Hebrew reads: “Welcome home.”

Silently watching the family in front of me for guidance, I place my luggage on the conveyor belt, hand my passport to an Israeli soldier, and walk through a metal detector. Just beyond this typical security checkpoint, the rest of the terminal is less organized: people are scattered among numerous small seating areas, unmarked doorways, and a lonely snack kiosk. As I slip my shoes back on, a magavnik in plainclothes – wearing a striped polo and a kippa – quickly instructs me to sit down and “wait for a security check,” pointing to a chair beside the moving luggage.

Meanwhile, the other travelers are gathering their luggage and continuing into the next room. I had expected this; I’d mentally prepared myself for a particularly thorough interview by Israeli officials, consistent with my three previous trips to Israel. I’d visited the West Bank for a similar purpose just six months prior, but had entered and departed via Ben Gurion Airport, instead. I try to divert my thoughts from that last encounter I had with Israeli security, hoping I will be subjected to a less intimidating interrogation this time.

The anonymous magavnik, holding my messenger bag in his gloved hands, asks me to open it for him. As I unzip my bag, he says, “That’s enough,” and dumps its contents on a steel table. Another Israeli in plainclothes – a short, pear-shaped woman – leads me into one of the small, unmarked rooms. As another unidentified magavnik enters the room, she begins with the usual first question: “What are you doing in Israel?”

“I am visiting some friends in Beit Sahur – ”

“What’s that?” the pear-shaped one interrupts.

“It’s a village near Bethlehem, where I’ll be taking an Arabic course and doing research.”

“Where will you stay while you’re in Israel?”

“In Beit Sahur, with a Palestinian-American family.” She continues to repeat the same questions a few times, with slightly varied phrasing. I explain that my contact in Beit Sahur, Daniel Bannoura, attended university in the U.S. That’s how I met him. I explain that I’ve stayed with the Bannoura family during previous trips. I point to my passport, which has somehow ended up in her hand.

“See – I was here in January. I came to Israel with my mother, through Ben Gurion. We stayed in Jerusalem, Haifa, Tel Aviv…I also stayed in Ramat Gan…”

All of these details are innocuous – I have nothing to hide from her. Besides, I’m certain they already have this information. But I couldn’t have anticipated what she did next. She pointed indiscriminately to the crowd of travelers outside the doorway.

“That woman – she told us your mother is Jewish, but your father is Arab. Where is your father from?”

I stare at her in disbelief. They already know – or should know, since this is my fourth time subjecting myself to Israel’s invasive border control interviews – where my parents are from. And while I feel it shouldn’t matter what my parents’ ethnicity is, I know that it does matter to Magav. More importantly, it could affect my freedom of movement, or whether I’m even permitted to enter Israel.

“What? No! Who are you talking about?” I look towards the crowd, but she interrupts me again, angrily snapping her fingers in my face.

“Look at me! Don’t worry about her.”

She’s lying to me. She knows that I’m traveling alone, but she’s trying to manipulate me, to elicit an emotional response. I look into her eyes as I try to remain completely calm. I begin to respond in Hebrew, but the other magavnik demands, “English.”

“My father is from Colombia. He moved to the States when he was young. His Sephardic surname is my surname. He died in 2009, as I’ve mentioned before. My mom’s from New Jersey. We are not Arabs.”

She asks me several more mundane questions about the purpose of my visit, but seems dissatisfied with my consistent responses. Eventually, she instructs me to return to the luggage area, where the man had been inspecting the contents of my bag. But she keeps my passport with her.

For a brief moment, the man gives me a sympathetic look as I re-pack what he had dumped on the table. A petite woman in an IDF uniform, even smaller than myself, leads me into a tiny room – the size of a closet, with a curtain. She speaks softly, politely asking me to remove my dress so she can search. I stifle a nervous laugh as she pats me down with gloved hands. This gentle strip-search is probably the least humiliating procedure I’ll endure today.

I’m then instructed to move on to the larger, adjacent waiting area. Multiple lines lead up to acrylic windows designated for passport control. I don’t even know who has my passport now, since my interrogators vanished with it, so I take a seat and await instruction. I glance around, noting that other travelers are freely using their phones. I take out my own phone, and see that it’s now already 11:30AM. The battery is getting low, but I can’t charge it because I thoughtlessly packed my power adapter in my larger bag, which is still in a separate secure area. I message Daniel, my Palestinian friend who is already waiting for me with other friends beyond the Israeli terminal, in Jericho.

“I don’t know how long I’ll be here…at least another hour. I don’t even have my passport back yet, or my luggage. I’ll keep you posted. I may ask them to call you.”

I waited there for three hours. Occasionally, another anonymous officer would emerge from one of several unmarked rooms, approach me, and ask me more of the same questions while holding my passport in hand. I remained seated, and didn’t dare to ask them how long this could take. After one of the more pleasant (of several) interviews, Daniel messaged me again.

“He called me,” Daniel said, apparently referring to the friendly soldier who had just spoken to me. “Sweet guy. Asked for my ID number. Probably won’t be much longer then, right?”

I hope not, I thought. I had already been detained at Allenby for over six hours. I was hungry, but trying to refrain from going to the snack kiosk, which was virtually deserted on a Ramadan Sunday. I kept telling myself that a magavnik would come to retrieve me again at any minute, and that I might miss them if I left for even a moment.

Around 3:45PM, I found myself sitting at a desk for what I optimistically thought would be my final interview, facing a female soldier and man in a white collared shirt. The man sat at a desktop computer, partly turned towards me, while firmly holding my passport.

“So you plan to study in Israel?” he asked, staring coldly at me.

“I’m taking an Arabic course in Bethlehem. It’s only a few weeks long.”

The female soldier asked me, “Do you study in America?”

I nod, removing my student ID from my wallet and passing it to her. “I studied at Columbia University, in New York.”

The man asked me about friends and family in Israel, apparently poised to search for them in his database. Our conversation was cordial, until he stated, “You need a student visa.”

My face suddenly felt warm. “No. I verified this before – I only need a tourist visa. My return flight is in September. I registered my trip with the State Department.” I used my dying cell phone to retrieve my flight itinerary for him. He glanced at it, and shortly after, they instructed me to wait outside again.

At 5:30PM, the female soldier and the man in plainclothes finally emerged again from the office. But the woman shook her head as she spoke to me.

“We’re sending you back to Jordan,” she told me. “I’m sorry. There’s nothing we can do for you.”

I stammered, frozen in shock. I stood helplessly, searching the officers’ faces as tears welled in my eyes, but they diverted theirs. They still held my passport.

I tried not to cry, but failed the moment that I spoke. “I’ve been here for nearly ten hours,” I began to plead. They only shrugged, looking down at the floor.

“Daniel is waiting for me on the other side, in Jericho. All of my electronics are dead. Can you at least call him for me, to tell him I won’t be there? Otherwise he’ll just keep waiting and worrying. He won’t know what’s happened to me. Please. I have his number written down, right here. Someone called him earlier…”

“No. Whoever was here earlier – they left. We’ll get [your passport] to you in a moment. A bus will bring you back to Jordan.”

Despite forcing me to wait an entire day, only to be refused entry, they managed to escort me out of the terminal in minutes. A soldier led me to a charter bus, with an Arab driver who smiled sympathetically at me as tears streamed down my cheeks. I slouched down into a front seat – the only passenger – and silently sobbed as we departed for the Jordanian security checkpoint, where I’d been just that morning. Completely numb, I caught a last glance out the window at Allenby’s “Welcome!” sign, with its deliberately deceptive translations.

I was still weeping when we arrived at the checkpoint, finally releasing days of anxiety and emotion. Due to huge airport delays and a canceled flight, I had already been traveling for four days, even before I was denied entry. When I’d left my apartment the previous Wednesday, the possibility had crossed my mind that I may be forbidden entry by the IDF. But I couldn’t have been prepared for its implications. I had rearranged my life at home, planning meticulously for the following two months while looking forward to returning to Palestine. I had budgeted every travel expense – now completely wasted. I wept more as I thought of my Palestinian friends who were expecting me – of Daniel, who had asked me to return to Beit Sahur to bake pastries for the coffeehouse he recently opened. I had looked forward to reporting from the West Bank, hoping to support the vital work of the AIC in Bethlehem. All of these plans were arbitrarily shattered by the force that brutally controls the lives of Palestinians.

For the second time that day, I handed my passport to a Jordanian policeman.

“Back so soon?” he asked. Shaking my head, I handed him my passport and flipped to the page where the Magav had twice stamped: “ENTERY DENIED” [sic]. The officers’ eyes widened as he examined the red stamp and emphatically told me, “Five years.” I erupted into tears all over again. Naturally, the Israelis hadn’t informed me of that. A few officers gathered at the desk and kindly attempted to console me.

“You want to return to Jerusalem?” one of them asked. I nodded, too emotionally exhausted to offer further explanation.

Another officer chimes in. “Many of us, you know – we are Palestinian!” he tells me, smiling sincerely. I wipe my eyes, looking into his, and around at the group that had gathered at the desk.

“I’m from Nablus,” he added. Another man offered, “I’m from Kafr ‘Aqab.”

“I’m Palestinian,” he repeated to me. “But I’ve never been to Palestine.”

About Julia Carmel

You can follow Julia Carmel on Twitter at @JuliaCarmel_.

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48 Responses

  1. eljay
    September 11, 2014, 11:10 am

    ALLENBY BORDER CONTROL
    DYS “ENTERY DENIED”

    No wonder Zio-supremacists are so full of sh*t.

    My sympathies to you, Ms. Carmel. :-(

  2. Marnie
    September 11, 2014, 12:09 pm

    How were you able to keep yourself under control? I read your story with tears –

  3. Kris
    September 11, 2014, 12:09 pm

    This is so horrible.

    I’m glad you wrote this great essay, and I hope you will spread your story as widely as you can. Everyone in the U.S. needs to know how U.S. citizens are treated by our so-called “ally,” Israel.

  4. Philip Weiss
    September 11, 2014, 12:45 pm

    Incredible story about an enormity, beautifully told. The ending makes a most important point.
    Thanks much for sharing this account, Julia

    • W.Jones
      September 11, 2014, 3:51 pm

      Yes, the ending was the best part.

    • OlegR
      September 12, 2014, 9:29 am

      Oh my i didn’t know we had an obligation to permit entry to foreign citizens with an anti Israeli agenda during war time.

      • ActivistGal
        September 14, 2014, 7:11 am

        Going by the spiel you lot put out, you claim to be a safe haven for world Jewry. And Julia is Jewish. So yeah, you do.

      • Gene Shae
        September 14, 2014, 12:36 pm

        Really? Who does Julia need protection from?

      • Annie Robbins
        September 14, 2014, 2:10 pm
      • Mooser
        September 14, 2014, 4:41 pm

        Considering the world-wide increase in antisemitism, I suggest all Jews in the world write to “Oleg R” and “Gene Shae” and get all those little details (who are you in danger from, are you really Jewish, Right-wing or left out? Stuff like that ) cleared up prior to fleeing to Israel. They may seem like unimportant questions now, but you wouldn’t want a little thing like not knowing which one of the ten tribes you belong to to delay your visa at a very critical time!

      • Talkback
        September 14, 2014, 5:39 pm

        OlegR: “Oh my i didn’t know we had an obligation to permit entry to foreign citizens with an anti Israeli agenda during war time.

        War time suits your anti Palestinian agenda, right?

      • talknic
        September 15, 2014, 2:52 am

        @ OlegR ” i didn’t know we had an obligation to permit entry to foreign citizens with an anti Israeli agenda during war time”

        A) The Allenby border gives entry into NON-ISRAELI territory you stupid stupid person

        B) “at war” … There’s never been a Peace Treaty with Palestine.

        So, there’s also the obligation to Israeli emergency law in effect since 1948 NOT TO ALLOW citizens and residents of Israel entry into the territory of hostile entities, such as the West Bank/Jerusalem/Gaza and the all other territories Israel has NEVER legally annexed, which comprises some 30% or more of the territory Israel illegally claims as its own!

  5. chocopie
    September 11, 2014, 1:09 pm

    This is Israel: Using their military to enforce an undeclared boycott against Palestinian people, educational institutions, and culture.

  6. michelle
    September 11, 2014, 1:27 pm

    .
    best not to travel to Israel at all
    better to boycott Israel in every and all ways
    after all Israel wants Israel just for itself no one else
    their own padded cell keeping them safe
    from the world from life from G-d
    .
    first Palestine must be released
    .
    G-d Bless
    .

    • chocopie
      September 11, 2014, 2:04 pm

      She wasn’t traveling to Israel. She was trying to go to Palestine, entering through Jordan.

      • michelle
        September 11, 2014, 11:04 pm

        .
        i.m.o. not until Palestine is freeded from Israeli oppression/rule
        it’s like a childs bedroom in the parents house
        .
        G-d Bless

      • michelle
        September 11, 2014, 11:15 pm

        .
        correction; ‘freed’
        never could spell well total bummer
        .
        G-d Bless my mess
        .

      • ActivistGal
        September 14, 2014, 7:14 am

        “Child’s bedroom in the parents house”

        Yes, if the parent is an abusive and murdering f***er, then yes, I suppose your comparison is rather apt.

  7. Phil Perspective
    September 11, 2014, 3:01 pm

    I hope Obama, Clinton, Kerry and the rest of the stooges in DC are proud! Did you report this to the State Department? Or is it pointless?

  8. Kate
    September 11, 2014, 3:22 pm

    I assume their reason for denying her entry was her work with the Alternative Information Center (AIC)?

    • W.Jones
      September 11, 2014, 3:52 pm

      Kate,

      Maybe that among other things. Unless they say the reason, you don’t really know. There have been stories about people on MW who were denied for far less.

    • Annie Robbins
      September 11, 2014, 8:05 pm

      that’s what i assumed kate. tad of a red flag.

    • ActivistGal
      September 11, 2014, 10:12 pm

      Yep, the fact that she mentioned Palestine, full stop, will have been a problem. I’m surprised she did this and just assumed that because she’s Jewish she’d be allowed entry. These feckers stop at nothing now to prevent people from seeing what’s going on there. ISM specifically advises people that telling Border Security they are going to Palestine or going to have anything to do with Palestinians could get them booted out. I thought this was common knowledge?

      I’d be really interested to know how Max Blumenthal would fare going in via the WB. He’s always going on about easy it is for him to get in and out. Wonder what number he was given when leaving via Ben Gurion after his brief stay in Gaza…

      • Phil Perspective
        September 12, 2014, 1:33 pm

        Has Max ever commented on how he’s able to get in and out of Gaza, for instance, with relative ease? Then again, maybe it’s better he doesn’t.

      • ActivistGal
        September 13, 2014, 9:22 pm

        He got in and out of Gaza because he had press credentials and local sponsorship.

        Not sure how that affected his exit from Ben-Gurion (given that he normally lies about having relatives or a girlfriend there) and whether it will affect his entry into I/P at some point in the future.

  9. tear-stained uzi
    September 11, 2014, 4:21 pm

    I had to Google ‘magavnik’ to find out that it means ‘Border Police.’

    Funny that Israel can have ‘Border Police’ without having actual, you know, borders.

  10. W.Jones
    September 11, 2014, 6:00 pm

    I’ve heard from a few world travelers that they have the most scrutinizing, potentially rude system in the world. I am not sure if there is a more strict one. I suppose North Korea and some other places would be much worse if your travel documents are bad, but not if they actually gave you permission to visit.

  11. Kate
    September 11, 2014, 7:37 pm

    I asked because it is fairly rare for this to happen to a Jew, unless they are known to have connections with the Palestine resistance or with a group that contests the Israeli version of the situation. I know I could never get back into the West Bank, and I had thought that if I were Jewish I might have a chance, but I guess not.

    • W.Jones
      September 11, 2014, 8:14 pm

      Kate,
      Your chances would be at least better. Julia tweeted that she had people with that connection offering to help her get in again.

  12. ActivistGal
    September 11, 2014, 9:31 pm

    *coughs* Deedpoll and a new passport may help you in future.

    • ActivistGal
      September 11, 2014, 9:35 pm

      And next time, go in through Tel-Aviv and pretend to be a freakin’ tourist. That’s what the rest of us do.

      • Phil Perspective
        September 12, 2014, 1:35 pm

        How would that work actually getting into Gaza or the West Bank? Sure you could get into Israel but would you be able to get to your final destination?

      • ActivistGal
        September 13, 2014, 8:12 pm

        Well if you want to get into Gaza via Erez and you’re not a journo, you’re going to have a hard time. Best bet is Rafah via Egypt, though I would imagine that these days that that is going to be tough too. If you want to get into the West Bank, you’re going to have to go through Ben Gurion -> Jerusalem and then one of the checkpoints into Ramallah, Bethlehem, wherever.

    • W.Jones
      September 12, 2014, 2:32 pm

      Activist,
      I think the Israelis probably have that base covered with their computer data bases. There is a ton of information sharing that goes on, far more than you may suspect.

      • ActivistGal
        September 13, 2014, 8:05 pm

        Re the deedpoll and new passport option, I know several people who HAVE changed their names and been able to get in, inc a fellow UK citizen who only changed his surname after being deported the first time. He was deported and banned a second time after which he gave up. :-/

        Re databases, their bases aren’t as covered as you’d think. I went into Gaza in 2009 and then into Palestine via Ben Gurion in 2012. I was in meltdown mode beforehand because I was sure that having gone in during Mubaraks reign, his security police would have shared info re people going via Rafah with the Israelis. Nope. I got lucky – the Israelis did have a clue.

      • ActivistGal
        September 13, 2014, 8:09 pm

        I should also point out that it was the easiest entry I’d ever had.

        I was so nervous about going in (even though I’d a new passport with no Rafah/Palestinian Authority stamps in it) that I went around scrubbing all possible traces of my activity from the internet and set up a new email account (which I actually use for harmless stuff) and a fake facebook account. I even asked Phil and Adam to get rid of my details here because I used to comment with my real name.

  13. juliacsalazar
    September 12, 2014, 6:43 am

    Let me clarify a few things that seem to be misunderstood here.

    I mention the work that I intended to do (including supporting the work of the AIC and working with Palestinians) – but I didn’t mention this at all to the soldiers interrogating me. I only told them that I would be visiting friends and studying Arabic. I also never told them that “I’m visiting Palestine.” Problem is, I am entering at Allenby, so they know that I’m going to the West Bank. The reason I gave them for choosing this point of entry was that I had been visiting other Columbia students in Amman – which is true. Students interning or studying in Amman (Jewish and non-Jewish alike) frequently enter through Allenby successfully, albeit usually after being harrassed and detained for a while.

    The primary reason I chose not to enter through Tel Aviv – which I obviously didn’t mention to the Israelis – is that I no longer feel comfortable entering or leaving through Tel Aviv as I’ve previously done. It’s a personal decision motivated by support for BDS and by rejection of Israel’s discrimination against Palestinians, who are entirely forbidden from entering through TLV at all.

    In every encounter I’ve had with Magav, I’ve tried to answer their questions with as few details that they won’t like as possible – and also details that have proven helpful in the past. I know that much of this might have been avoided if I had blatantly lied to them, if I’d pretended to be a Zionist or said I was staying with settler friends or whatever. The point is: we shouldn’t be forced to lie in order to enter Palestine. People have interceded on my behalf to facilitate my future entry – but that is a privilege that Palestinians don’t have, and also something I shouldn’t have to do. Like most American Jews, I was raised with the delusion that Israel was a safe haven for me, perhaps even the only safe place for Jews. And this is also about dispelling that lie.

    • ActivistGal
      September 13, 2014, 8:34 pm

      But that’s just it, mentioning wanting to enter to learn Arabic is going to be a problem as well. Where else would you do that except amongst the Palestinians in the West Bank or within Israel? They’re not going to want you mixing with the Palestinians now, are they? They’d prefer to not even acknowledge their existence. Think of it from their perspective: if you want to learn Arabic, why not stay in Amman and do it? Not that I am excusing their behaviour for one second, because I am not exactly treated kindly by them either (on account of being mixed race and therefore coloured), but Arabic shouldn’t have entered the conversation at all. That would send up a red flag. Something to think about for others who may be thinking of going in.

      I understand your reasons for not wanting to go through Tel-Aviv, but for many activists with ISM, ICAHD, etc, it’s the easiest way we have to get in and we have to lie to do it. If we were to all use the WB route out of principle (and face being denied entry), there would be none of us left to bear witness and support the important work that’s being done.

      As for dispelling the lie about Israel being a safe haven for Jews, you’ve certainly done that, though for me the last lines were the most poignant.

      Another Jewish person with an interesting story to tell about her treatment at the hands of Israeli security is Jennifer Loewenstein when she trying to get into Gaza via Erez – I think it was around the time Gilad Shalit was taken. VERY unpleasant story. She’s contributed pieces for Mondo before, perhaps ask her for her take on this?

      • ActivistGal
        September 13, 2014, 8:36 pm

        And by that I meant that JL should write about HER experience, not comment on yours. Oh for an edit function!

    • bilal a
      September 14, 2014, 10:26 pm

      “I’m Palestinian,” he repeated to me. “But I’ve never been to Palestine.”

      exactly how I feel when I turn on msnbc or fox, an exile:

      “I am American…but I have never been to America.”

  14. Talkback
    September 12, 2014, 8:55 am

    ““I’m Palestinian,” he repeated to me. “But I’ve never been to Palestine.””

    Don’t worry. Zionism teaches us, that is ok to take over a country by war and expulsion, if there is a historical connection going even back thousands of years. So there’s still hope.

    • Mooser
      September 12, 2014, 7:13 pm

      “there is a historical connection going even back thousands of years.”

      Oh, BTW, Talkback, what is the “historical connection” of the Zionists to the area? How are Palestine and the ZIonist colonists connected “historically”

      I mean honestly, weren’t they from Europe?

      • Mooser
        September 14, 2014, 4:45 pm

        Of course, there’s no denying a religious and spiritual connection. With that and a lot of violence and the help of foreign powers, you can get a country!

  15. Pamela Olson
    September 12, 2014, 6:53 pm

    Horrific story, I’m so sorry to hear you went through that.

    For others who may try to go through in the future: Don’t give them any more information than you absolutely have to. Nothing concrete. Try to be as vague as possible. Don’t mention “Palestine.” Just lie and say you’re going to be a tourist in Israel.

    They will use ANYTHING you say against you. So don’t give them anything you don’t absolutely have to give them. Also, make sure any electronics are “clean” of anything you don’t want them to find, and have an extra fake email and/or Facebook account set up if they try to get you to log in to them.

    Remember: You don’t owe them anything. They are there illegitimately. Don’t feel bad for lying.

    Of course, I hate lying, and it gives me digestive distress for days. It reminds me of a passage I read in The Unbearable Lightness of Being:

    Not until that point did Tomas realize that he was under interrogation. All at once he saw that his every word could put someone in danger. Although he obviously knew the name of the editor in question, he denied it: “I’m not sure.”

    “Now, now,” said the man in a voice dripping with indignation over Tomas’s insincerity, “you can’t tell me he didn’t introduce himself!”

    It is a tragicomic fact that our proper upbringing has become an ally of the secret police. We do not know how to lie. The “Tell the truth!” imperative drummed into us by our mamas and papas functions so automatically that we feel ashamed of lying even to a secret policeman during an interrogation. It is simpler for us to argue with him or insult him (which makes no sense whatsoever) than to lie to his face (which is the only thing to do).

    • michelle
      September 13, 2014, 6:02 pm

      .
      to lie no matter the reason is never the answer
      .
      G-d Bless
      .

      • ActivistGal
        September 13, 2014, 8:54 pm

        Lying can help save our arses in times of need. You speak like someone who’s never had to deal with Israeli security before. Lucky you. for those of us who travel in and out frequently, we do what we have to to get by, otherwise the likes of IWPS, ISM and ICAHD would be lost without their international volunteers.

      • michelle
        September 16, 2014, 2:01 am

        .
        with each lie ‘you’ lose a little of yourself
        .
        G-d Bless
        .

    • ActivistGal
      September 13, 2014, 9:14 pm

      I agree with this wholeheartedly.

      Do not volunteer information. Prepare beforehand answers to the questions they may ask you. (I am half Jewish and half-South Asian. I do not tell them the last part – I make up another nationality that would explain my olive skin and asian/arab-looking features). Prepare your answers enough so that you become comfortable with them. If you get nervous, they will spot it in an instant.

      Do not mention anything to do with Palestine or Arabs or Arabic. If you have arab stamps in your passport, be prepared to be questioned on those. I have a white Greek friend who on her way out of Tel-Aviv after attending a conference in Haifa many years ago (I think in 1996) was questioned about whether she met any Arabs when changing flights through Turkey on her way to Israel. (???!) Her story is an interesting one – she was doing a PhD in Mathematics and when being interrogated at 5 in the morning she was questioned about the paper she had presented in the conference. The ghouls in Ben Gurion even called out a Mathematician to read through her paper and she had to present it in front of them all before being allowed to board her flight.

      The fake email account I have I actually use for routine stuff like online purchases and email newsletters. I even have friends send me “fake” emails so it looks like a real active account, and not an empty one which is what happened when Frank Barat was stopped and denied entry.

      And I take in a cheapo $200 netbook that I bought specifically for when I go into Israel – one that I wouldn’t mind them shooting at or confiscating (remember the story of Lily Sussman?) and one that I KNOW will have no documents, pics, or ANYTHING related to Palestine, Islam, the Arab world, foreign policy, etc etc.

      I also make sure my camera is “clean”.

      Any documents, Palestinians business/calling cards, memory cards with photographs of Palestine, ANYTHING incriminating in their eyes is shipped the day before via recorded delivery from a post office.

      And I always pack a bikini, flip flops, and a Hebrew phrasebook, even though I never use any of that stuff, because the ghouls ALWAYS go through my luggage on the way out.

      I also have non-activist Israeli Jewish friends (therefore unlikely to be on any Shabak watchlists) who are willing to give me an alibi and pick me up/drop me off at the airport in case I run into any trouble. Not everyone has that support, but if you do, USE IT.

      This all sounds stressful, and it is, but remember, it’s nothing compared to what the Palestinians have to go through. And that’s why we do this.

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