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Why I didn’t make it to Gaza for International Women’s Day

ActivismIsrael/Palestine
on 50 Comments
Egypt

Medea Benjamin’s cell in Cairo, Egypt (photo: Code Pink)

When I boarded the plane to Cairo, Egypt, to make sure everything was in place for the women’s delegation headed to Gaza, I had no reason to think I’d end up in a jail cell at the Cairo airport and then violently deported.

The trip was in response to a call from women in Gaza to CODEPINK and other groups asking us to bring 100 women from around the world to Gaza for March 8, International Women’s Day. They wanted us to see, first-hand, how the seven-year Israeli blockade had made their situation intolerable. They talked about being unable to protect themselves and their families from frequent Israeli attacks and how the closing of the borders with both Israel and Egypt has made it impossible for them to travel abroad or even to other parts of Palestine. They wanted us to witness how the shortages of water, electricity, and fuel, coupled with severe restrictions on imports and exports, condemn most of the 1.6 million Palestinians in Gaza to a life of misery.

So we helped put together a 100-women delegation with representatives from France, Belgium, Switzerland, Australia, the UK, Ireland, Canada and the United States. The delegates, who ranged in age from 18 to 84, included Nobel Peace Prize winners, doctors, writers and students. We were also bringing hundreds of solar lamps and boxes of medical supplies for the women.

The only ways to enter Gaza is by land–either via the border with Israel or Egypt. Israel restricts entry to non-governmental and official delegations, so our only option was to go through Egypt. CODEPINK had already organized eight delegations to Gaza via Egypt since 2008, so we thought we knew the ropes. We had organized these delegations during Mubarak’s reign and after the revolution, but not since the July 2013 coup that toppled the government of Mohamed Morsi.

As in the past, we furnished the Foreign Ministry and the local Embassies with all the information they requested to get the delegates the necessary permits to cross the Sinai (which has become a dangerous place) and cross into Gaza. They said as long the situation was not too dangerous in the Sinai, they would help us get safely to the border. Otherwise, we would celebrate International Women’s Day together in Cairo.

I went early, on March 3, as part of the logistics team. When I arrived at the airport in Cairo, I was taken aside and put in a separate room.  First I was told “no problem, no problem, just checking the papers, just 10 minutes.” After 5 hours I realized that there was, indeed, a problem, as I was taken to a jail cell at the airport. Never once was I told what the problem was. Thank goodness I had hidden my phone and was able to get the word out about my plight over Twitter. Friends and family started immediately contacting the US Embassy for help.

At 8am, 5 plain-clothed men with handcuffs came into the cell, looking very ominous. One said, “Come with us, we’re putting you on a plane and deporting you.” I was scared to go with them and I had just received a message that someone from the US Embassy was just ten minutes away.  I politely asked if I could wait for an embassy official or if I could call the Foreign Ministry to straighten out what must be a miscommunication.

Instead, the men grabbed me, threw me on the ground, put their knees into my back, yanked my arms back so violently that I heard the pop of my arm coming out of my shoulder, and put two sets of handcuffs on me. I was screaming from the pain so they took my scarf, stuffed it in my mouth, and dragged me through the halls of the airport to a waiting Turkish Airline plane.

I was in such agony from a dislocated shoulder—you could see the bone just sticking up in the air—that the airline personnel refused to let me on and insisted that the Egyptians call an ambulance. When the ambulance arrived, the doctor immediately gave me a shot to ease the pain and insisted that I had to go to the hospital. By this time there were about 20 men on the tarmac, arguing about what to do with me while the Turkish plane with 175 people on board was prevented from taking off. After about an hour of fighting, the Egyptian security prevailed: I was not allowed go to the hospital but was forced to board the plane, with the two men who most abused me sitting on either side of me.

Medea Benjamin displays ‘the violence inherent in the system.’ (Photo: Code Pink)

Medea Benjamin, upon her return home (Photo: Code Pink)

As soon as we were in the air, the stewardess asked if there was a doctor on the plane.  Finally, a stroke of luck! Not only was there a doctor, but he was an orthopedic surgeon. He created a makeshift operating bed in the aisle of the plane and got the stewardesses to assist. “Usually I’d put you out before doing this, so I warn you this will be painful,” he said as he manipulated my arm back into its socket. Once we got to Turkey, I went to a hospital for further treatment before flying back home. My doctors here say it will take months of physical therapy before I can recover full use of my arm.

Along with the physical trauma, I am left with many unanswered questions:

* Why didn’t the US Embassy in Egypt ever help me during this 17-hour ordeal, especially when I made it clear I was in danger? When questioned by a journalist at a State Department briefing, spokeswoman Jen Psaki falsely claimed that the Embassy had provided me with “appropriate consular assistance.” I have since lodged a complaint about the lack of assistance, and you can send a message to the State Department, too.

*If the Egyptian officials were so brutal to me– a petite, 61-year-old American woman who has dedicated her life to peace–what are they doing to their own citizens and others languishing in their prisons? And why is Secretary Kerry considering a resumption of US military aid to this brutal regime? According to a recent Amnesty International report, the current human rights situation is characterized by repeated excessive use of force by the security forces, leading to the death of hundreds of protesters; increasingly severe restrictions on freedom of association, freedom of assembly, and freedom of expression, as well as academic freedoms; the arbitrary imprisonment of protest leaders, university students, journalists and others; and a failure to protect vulnerable groups, including minorities and women. Take a minute to send a message to the Egyptian embassy in the US and tell them to end the government’s brutal crackdown on peaceful citizens.

*Did Israel put the pressure on Egypt to do a last-minute about-face to keep us out of Gaza? In the end, only 17 of our members made it into Cairo (but not to Gaza) and the rest were deported from the airport. The question of Israeli influence is one we’ll probably never have answered, but during the very time we were supposed to be there, rocket fire was exchanged between militants from Gaza and the Israeli army. This shows the vulnerability of the women of Gaza, caught between the Israeli siege, Egyptian blockade, and internal extremists. That’s why it was so important for us to go there, to show our solidarity with the civilian population. But that will have to wait until Egypt no longer deems peace activists to be a threat to their national security.

As long as the world ignores the ongoing siege of Gaza, almost 2 million people will continue to languish in the world’s largest open-air prison. If Secretary of State Kerry wants the US to be a meaningful peace broker and to reach an agreement that includes dignity and human rights for the Palestinians, he can no longer continue to support military aid to the perpetrators of the blockade: Israel and Egypt.

Medea Benjamin
About Medea Benjamin

Medea Benjamin, cofounder of CODEPINK for Peace, is the author of The Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the US-Saudi Connection.

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50 Responses

  1. Citizen
    Citizen
    March 13, 2014, 1:36 pm

    Obama himself said Americans should listen to what Medea has to say–it was on public TV. But the fact no American agency came to help here shows how hypocritical he is. It would be the same under a GOP POTUS.

  2. Jackdaw
    Jackdaw
    March 13, 2014, 1:53 pm

    @Medea

    Just blame Israel and move on.

    • eljay
      eljay
      March 13, 2014, 2:27 pm

      >> Just blame Israel and move on.

      Better yet, hold both Egypt and Israel accountable for their respective actions.

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      March 13, 2014, 2:31 pm

      @Jackdaw,

      It’s pretty bad that a zionist sociopath (if that is not, in fact, a redundancy) like you, can’t spare a moment from your cheer leading for your Apartheid state to sympathize with an abused woman. But you people are brutal bastards as a matter of course, so I guess that’s too much to ask.

    • Justpassingby
      Justpassingby
      March 13, 2014, 2:51 pm

      Jackdaw
      You just did, antisemite.

    • kalithea
      kalithea
      March 13, 2014, 9:28 pm

      Move on? How’s this for moving on?: BOYCOTT THE SUPREMACIST PARIAH.

    • talknic
      talknic
      March 14, 2014, 12:12 am

      @ Jackdaw “Just blame Israel and move on”

      So smart rrrrrs, who should be blamed for Israeli policies, Israeli actions, Israel being in breach of International Law?

  3. Diamond
    Diamond
    March 13, 2014, 2:03 pm

    jesus f**king christ

    • kalithea
      kalithea
      March 13, 2014, 9:26 pm

      Believe me, I understand your frustration, but next time can you please word it this way: F**king Zionism!

  4. rensanceman
    rensanceman
    March 13, 2014, 2:57 pm

    I shared an elevator at the recent Summit in D.C. With Ms. Benjamin and felt somewhat small in the presence of a very brave and determined woman whose courage is immense. I traveled from L.A. to attend as my feeling of outrage compels me to help in overcoming the Zionist narrative that permeates our politics and public opinion which does in fact use the U.S. in aiding and abetting this evil enterprise which is Zionism. If only the truth about the origins of Israel’s creation-the massacres, ethnic cleansing, blackmailing and bribing ( of American Presidents no less) were widely known-especially by the Christian community, then the tide will turn and a hopeful backlash will be unleashed.
    The Summit was well organized and its message well delivered. This should be an annual event.

    • ckg
      ckg
      March 13, 2014, 10:14 pm

      She is a national treasure. I wish her the best in her endeavors.

  5. Mndwss
    Mndwss
    March 13, 2014, 3:22 pm

    *If the Egyptian officials were so brutal to me– a petite, 61-year-old American woman who has dedicated her life to peace–what are they doing to their own citizens and others languishing in their prisons? And why is Secretary Kerry considering a resumption of US military aid to this brutal regime?

    This reminded me of: On March 8, International Women’s Day 2013 NRK, (Norwegian broadcasting) published an exclusive article by John Kerry.

    “Hvorfor kvinner er sentrale i USAs utenrikspolitikk” (Why women are are central in US foreign politics).
    http://www.nrk.no/ytring/kvinner-i-usas-utenrikspolitikk-1.10939656

    He forgot to say that he was in Saudi-Arabia selling weapons in the days before the article was published.

    And he did not say anything about:

    Madeleine Albright Defends Mass-Murder of iraqi Children (500,000 Children dead):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4PgpbQfxgo

    Or:

    Clinton on Qaddafi: We came, we saw, he died

    • Qualtrough
      Qualtrough
      March 14, 2014, 10:13 am

      Mndwss, thank you for linking to that Clinton video. Hillary’s absolute joy and merriment at a death she helped cause, and a horrific death at that, is downright sociopathic and frightening. It makes no difference whether or not the Colonel was a bad guy, the circumstances and method by which he was killed were monstrous and beyond the pale. God help us all if she becomes the next President.

  6. MHughes976
    MHughes976
    March 13, 2014, 3:59 pm

    What Medea and we see as dedication to peace they see as dangerous hostility to their basic interests.

    • ivri
      ivri
      March 13, 2014, 6:36 pm

      “hostility to their basic interests”
      Well, of course. There is now a rare understanding between Israel and Egypt, with the US backing, who the “bad guys” are. Syria is practically out of the game and the Hezbollah is busy there too but the Islamic Jihad is still supported by Iran so the game is far from over. At least though its perimeters are getting clearer.

      • kalithea
        kalithea
        March 13, 2014, 9:52 pm

        Quit with the Zionist Hubris. Stop stealing other peoples land, get off their land and stop persecuting the Palestinian people and denying them their rights! It’s that simple!

      • ivri
        ivri
        March 14, 2014, 10:35 am

        “Stop stealing other people land”
        When is the last time you looked at the map Kalithea? Land is what the Arabs have in abundance – while their problems, a myriad of them, lie elsewhere. So why should it be such an important issue for them to “take back” a microscopic piece of land from an otherwise miniature-size country? Can`t you see that this has never been the REAL issue. They want it because it serves their wish to see Israel as a whole undone (in fact many of them are honest enough not to deny that). It`s that simple!

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        March 14, 2014, 11:07 am

        “When is the last time you looked at the map Kalithea? Land is what the Arabs have in abundance – while their problems, a myriad of them, lie elsewhere. ‘

        How very racist of you, ivri, to lump all of the world’s Arabs together like that.

        “So why should it be such an important issue for them to take back a microscopic piece of land from an otherwise miniature-size country?”

        Because that land was stolen from them by the zionists, and is very meaningful to the those trying to get it back.

      • eljay
        eljay
        March 14, 2014, 11:21 am

        >> When is the last time you looked at the map Kalithea? Land is what the Arabs have in abundance … So why should it be such an important issue for them to “take back” a microscopic piece of land from an otherwise miniature-size country?

        What a stupid comment.

        That abundance of land in the Middle East does not belong to the Palestinians any more than every other home in a city belongs to the family who has been evicted from theirs.

        Unlike Zio-supremacists – whose miniature-sized, supremacist and colonialist country exists because of land theft, terrorism and ethnic cleansing – Palestinians want back their own homes and lands, not someone else’s homes and lands.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        March 14, 2014, 12:31 pm

        Land certainly is the issue. Another issue is the recognition of their status and rights as human beings.

      • kalithea
        kalithea
        March 14, 2014, 12:44 pm

        Land is what the Arabs have in abundance…

        Who’re you trying to kid? Your comment is a veiled attempt at justifying pushing the Palestinians off their land and into other Arab countries implying the racist meme that “there is no such thing as the Palestinian people”. I suppose you’re also a Nakba denier, huh? No doubt you’d brag, if you could around here…: Those aren’t Palestinian refugee camps; they’re the Palestinians real home!

        LOL. You don’t fool me – I got your number!

      • Walid
        Walid
        March 14, 2014, 5:01 pm

        “why should it be such an important issue for them to “take back” a microscopic piece of land”

        The proper term, Ivri, is “small sliver of land”; it’s guaranteed to evoke more pity. BTW, it’s true that the Arabs have an overabundance of land, but most of it is of a quality that only lizards and gophers could enjoy. The habitable parts of these lands are themselves minute in comparison to the rest of the land.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        March 14, 2014, 11:24 am

        @kalithea

        Quit with the Zionist Hubris. Stop stealing other peoples land, get off their land and stop persecuting the Palestinian people and denying them their rights! It’s that simple!

        Every inch of Israel is in their view their land. Every act of Israel is a persecution. In their mind they have rights to all the land, all the peoples.
        You are absolutely right that it would be simple for the Jews to just commit mass suicide. Very simple.

        Sorry to not be accommodating. But ain’t happening.

      • kalithea
        kalithea
        March 14, 2014, 12:28 pm

        You are absolutely right that it would be simple for the Jews to just commit mass suicide.

        Equating the end of Zionism with Jewish “suicide” is nothing more than fake drama or desperate hasbara propaganda given flourishing Jewish Diaspora success.

        If the survival of your state depends on the ever-increasing commission of successive racist crimes and brutality against others, I’ve got news for you bud – your state is in serious trouble. Start worrying! 3, 2, 1…..

      • ivri
        ivri
        March 14, 2014, 3:53 pm

        Kalithea: “I got your number”
        No, no it is clear that you don`t have any “number”. You seem to want to simplify what is in reality a titanic clash, which practically divides the world and defies any simple solution, by what is really just a “formula talk” with “half liners” – that cannot be anywhere near where things really are or are heading to

      • Walid
        Walid
        March 14, 2014, 5:03 pm

        “… simple for the Jews to just commit mass suicide. ”

        Even that aspect of Jewish history is being proven bogus. Masada was folklore.

      • puppies
        puppies
        March 14, 2014, 6:28 pm

        Ain’t happening? The later, the harder.

      • talknic
        talknic
        March 14, 2014, 9:31 pm

        JeffB “Every inch of Israel is in their view their land.”

        Of course they do …. according to folk like yourself, who’re prone to fallacies, lies, false accusations, coveting other folks property, endless irrelevant arguments http://talknic.wordpress.com/

        However the Palestinians aren’t claiming any Israeli land. Israel is not Palestine and Palestine is not Israel. They’re independent of each other by default of Israel being proclaimed independent effective at 00:01 May 15th 1948 (ME Time) http://wp.me/PDB7k-Y#ignorance

        Israel is claiming Palestinian land which, according to the Israeli Government will become Israeli under a peace deal. I.e., it is not yet Israeli.

        What sort of a f*(ked up government illegally sells land to its citizens that does not yet belong to the state??? How stupid are the people who buy it? How greedy are the people who invest in it?

        Abbas has twice now in front of the world at the United Nations General Assembly, stated quite clearly the Palestinians will cede 78% of their rightful territory to Israel for peace. http://pages.citebite.com/e9p5s8u2yhcd

        I guess you’re not allowed to read such things because it’s likely to induce involuntary vomiting. Likely to ruin the Hasbara carpets

        Israel’s reply has been to build even more illegal facts on the ground, encourage even more Israeli citizens to break the law and sell even more non-Israeli land to unsuspecting Israeli citizens.

      • puppies
        puppies
        March 15, 2014, 12:57 am

        @talknic – “However the Palestinians aren’t claiming any Israeli land. Israel is not Palestine and Palestine is not Israel.”
        Speak for yourself, will you? Very many Palestinians will tell you that Palestine is one, occupied or not, and that the partition proposal was rejected. Whoever designated you their spokesperson may have omitted to mention that.

      • just
        just
        March 13, 2014, 10:48 pm

        A “rare understanding between Israel and Egypt” where?

        It’s not “rare”. It’s business as usual.

        Many do not swallow your full- throated swill, ivri.

      • just
        just
        March 14, 2014, 5:33 pm

        @JeffB–

        “Every inch of Israel is in their view their land”

        Which inch? Where? Whose? How? Where are the borders? Where is the Constitution?

        Maniacs who steal, murder, squat, destroy, and then steal some more after murdering some more, then squat and destroy some more. An unbroken circle/cycle of apartheid and violation of international laws that have, so far, gone unpunished.

        A thoroughly terrorist state.

  7. joemowrey
    joemowrey
    March 13, 2014, 4:31 pm

    Okay, this is nothing but a personal conspiracy theory. But has anyone else considered the possibility that our own State Department/ White House/ Pick-your-favorite-agency may have put the Egyptians up to this? This sends a clear message to heroic people like Medea Benjamin that resistance will not be tolerated. Not even our most fascist police forces could likely have gotten away with what was done to Benjamin. She’s too high profile. But our proxy totalitarian regime in Egypt didn’t bat an eye. And what a coincidence, no one from the US Embassy stepped in. I’m shocked, shocked I tell you!

    Kinda reminds one of the way Settler thugs in Palestine are used to abuse and murder Palestinians while the IDF (the most moral military in the world) stands by and watches.

    • Sammar
      Sammar
      March 15, 2014, 2:56 am

      I was in Cairo a few years ago for the Gaza Freedom March organized by Medea.
      At that time the Egyptian government ( still Mubarak regime) also reneged on permissions to hold meetings in a school and to assist us with providing buses to the border with Gaza.
      Not only that, when some US citizens went to the US embassy to ask for assistance with the buses, someone must have called the Egyptian police, because they miraculously showed up within minutes and beat up some US citizens in front of the US Embassy and the embassy staff did NOTHING to intervene.
      By contrast, the French Embassy told Egyptian riot police massed in force in front of the French embassy where activists were holding a ‘sit-in” demonstration that they would not tolerate any violence against the activists on their sidewalk.

      • just
        just
        March 15, 2014, 2:59 am

        Thanks Sammar,

        Makes my head hurt.

  8. just
    just
    March 13, 2014, 7:20 pm

    Medea, I am glad to see you home and in one piece…………..

    I am glad that there was an orthopedic surgeon who was able to help you. I pray that you do not apparently (I hope) have any immediate physical complications that could have hurt you even more, like avascular necrosis because of the violent injury, followed by a delay in treatment. I wish you only the best in your recovery– a speedy and complete one, with properly ‘managed’ pain and great and dedicated physical therapists. A dislocated joint is exquisitely painful– agony, in fact.

    “Along with the physical trauma, I am left with many unanswered questions:

    * Why didn’t the US Embassy in Egypt ever help me during this 17-hour ordeal, especially when I made it clear I was in danger? When questioned by a journalist at a State Department briefing, spokeswoman Jen Psaki falsely claimed that the Embassy had provided me with “appropriate consular assistance.” I have since lodged a complaint about the lack of assistance, and you can send a message to the State Department, too.”

    WHY did Psaki lie? Why did the consulate not respond immediately? I think the answer lies in your other question: “Did Israel put the pressure on Egypt to do a last-minute about-face to keep us out of Gaza? ” One has to ask why the US went along with the entire horror story…

    If a peaceful American activist cannot be protected by her own government, what does that say about our government? I think it says that our government is complicit…..

    • kalithea
      kalithea
      March 13, 2014, 9:58 pm

      I think it says that our government is complicit….

      You think??? You mean you still don’t see it clearly?

    • Eva Smagacz
      Eva Smagacz
      March 15, 2014, 5:57 pm

      Just
      Re: “appropriate consular assistance”.

      Ms Psaki did not lie. You just didn’t get sarcasm. Listen again “ appropriate consular assistance”.

      • just
        just
        March 15, 2014, 7:25 pm

        Too true.

        Here’s the thing. Some folks here in the US have a gigantic fixation over Benghazi and the officials that were there and were killed. I feel terrible about it, but it happened in a place that we were trying to manipulate. These folks with the fixation want to endlessly blame the State Dept and the administration for what happened there………

        Here is a peaceful activist and a citizen of the United States who asked for some response/help, and the silence was deafening and the inaction truly criminal. I mean, really? So any American who does not go along with the credo of the US government is fair game, and not entitled to any protection? It says in our passport:

        “The Secretary of State of the United States of America hereby requests all whom it may concern to permit the citizen/national of the United States named herein to pass without delay or hindrance and in case of need to give all lawful aid and protection.”

        From the Bureau of Consular Affairs website:

        “Mission

        Safety. Security. Service. Our highest priority is to protect the lives and interests of U.S. citizens overseas. We do this through routine and emergency services to Americans at our embassies and consulates around the world. We serve our fellow citizens during their most important moments – births, deaths, disasters, arrests, and medical emergencies.”

        http://travel.state.gov/content/travel/english/about.html

        Where is the explanation/humble and abject apology that Medea and the other women are due?

  9. March 13, 2014, 9:56 pm

    Dear Medea;

    Just surreal and horrific, I’m truly speechless. Glad you made it back in one piece, barely. This should obviously get major play in the NY Times, but that’s what I said about Rachel Corrie and Furkan Dogan. We’ll see. Sweet dreams.

  10. kalithea
    kalithea
    March 13, 2014, 10:46 pm

    The fascism that has taken over Egypt should come as no surprise and it suits perfectly the interests of Zionism. Zionists feel comforted again by its stone-cold presence in Egypt. The military was always there; waiting to pounce the moment Morsi screwed up and well-funded in the wings by the benefactors of Zionism. The U.S. short-lived rebuke of the coup was all for show. But behind the scenes there is satisfaction all around and a binding deal with Egypt’s military; the price of which is understood by all parties and never ending: There can be no democracy for the people on Zionism’s doorstep, Egyptian or Palestinian; there can be no democracy where Zionism rules. Not even American citizens are spared its brutal injustice; that’s how binding the “arrangement” is.

    This courageous, irrepressible woman has the spirit of Rachel Corrie in her. God bless her determination. May the spirit of Rachel Corrie show up in an army of millions seeking justice in this worthy cause for Palestinian rights that is being suppressed by a complicity make in hell.

    • JeffB
      JeffB
      March 14, 2014, 11:27 am

      @ kalithea

      The current SCAF government has support from: Leftists, Nasrists, Socialists, Communists, Christians and Liberals in Egypt. Which of those groups are Zionist?

      Morsi wasn’t democracy it was majoritarianism. Egypt unfortunately didn’t have the option of democracy.

      • kalithea
        kalithea
        March 14, 2014, 1:04 pm

        The current SCAF government has support from: Leftists, Nasrists, Socialists, Communists, Christians and Liberals in Egypt.

        Suuure, you keep telling yourself that as long as there’s no elections.

        Morsi wasn’t democracy it was majoritarianism.

        Ohhhh…you mean like–the Jewish State! (at least for now-he-he, if we don’t include the occupied PTs)

        Egypt unfortunately didn’t have the option of democracy.

        Yeah, because it has a U.S.$ well-bribed, fascist military colluding with Zionism to deny Palestinians aaaand Egyptians their rights.

        Now, try and slither your way out of this one!

      • puppies
        puppies
        March 14, 2014, 6:30 pm

        “Which of those groups are Zionist?”
        The USD.

  11. American
    American
    March 13, 2014, 11:36 pm

    I am sure the US Embassy in Egypt would have helped Medea….if only she hadn’t been the ‘wrong kind’ of Jew.

    And Chuck Schumer was too busy trying to get Israeli Jews into the US to worry about a US non zio Jew getting beat up in Egypt.

    http://www.schumer.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=350492
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 6, 2014
    SCHUMER PUSHES FEDS TO END ARBITRARY PRACTICE OF PREEMPTIVELY DENYING TOURIST VISAS FOR YOUNG ISRAELIS – SENATOR URGES FEDS TO FOCUS INSTEAD ON ENFORCEMENT AND REMOVAL OF ACTUAL VISA VIOLATORS

    Scores of Young Israelis Have Been Denied Tourist Visas Due To Overblown Concerns They Will Violate Visa Terms by Working in Areas Like Selling Dead Sea Products In Shopping Malls

    Schumer: It Is Time To Stop Denying Visas To Citizens of One of Our Closest Allies

    According to Schumer, this unofficial policy has been in place for 2-3 years, and has been extended to include not just Israelis who are seeking to travel after completing their compulsory military service, but also to include all Israeli nationals who are of student age. According to State, the Israel visa refusal rate for Fiscal Year 2013 was 9.7%. This is up from a refusal rate of 5.4% in Fiscal Year 2012 and as low as 2.5% in 2007. >>>>>

    Yep, I am sure the State Dept is concerned about them selling Dead Sea mud in malls.

  12. Daniel Rich
    Daniel Rich
    March 14, 2014, 1:10 am

    Dear Medea,

    It takes many waves to bring down a mighty rock, but tumblin’ down it will. Thank you for your courage and bravery. I’m proud of you.

  13. Citizen
    Citizen
    March 14, 2014, 10:23 am

    Please sign this petition to our government, the WH & both houses of Congress:
    Stop Illegal Israeli Settler Expansion http://petitions.moveon.org/s/ymqqvO @moveon

    It’s a petition to stop all aid to Israel until Israel stops its illegal settlement expansion.
    Kerry and Obama can’t do anything without broad grassroots support on this issue.

  14. Walid
    Walid
    March 14, 2014, 5:09 pm

    “Did Israel put the pressure on Egypt to do a last-minute about-face to keep us out of Gaza? In the end, only 17 of our members made it into Cairo (but not to Gaza) and the rest were deported from the airport.” (Medea)

    They knew you were coming before you boarded the plane and prepared themselves accordingly. Israel has people posted at almost every international airport in the US and Canada under joint security agreements. The Egyptians were waiting for you and your group and knew exactly what to not let you do.

    • Sammar
      Sammar
      March 15, 2014, 2:59 am

      Activities such as holding meetings or demonstrations and/or traveling to Gaza through Egypt always have to be co-ordinated in advance with the Egyptian authorities. One has to submit information on the participants ahead of time.

      Of course they knew who was coming and why. And of course they wanted to use this opportunity to discourage any further such activities. And btw, they also do hand the lists of people coming to Egypt for pro-Palestinian or anti-Gaza blockade events to the Israelis.

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