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American tourist harassed and detained by Israeli border agents while trying to attend wedding in Ramallah

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On July 1st, l attempted to cross the border from Jordan to Israel to visit historical sites and to attend a wedding in Ramallah. I was invited to the West Bank by my university professor who happens to be Palestinian. We were separated at the border checkpoint on the Jordanian side and my luggage was loaded on her bus while I had to stay behind in Jordan and wait for the tourist bus.

I arrived on the Israeli side at approximately 3:30 PM and waited to approach passport control. When I stated the reasons for my visit to Israel to the border agent, I was immediately interrogated about my family history and questioned about my intentions in Israel. I wanted nothing more than to visit major points of interest, attend the wedding, and return to Jordan in two weeks.

Their attitudes changed completely when I informed them I would be staying with my university professor in Ramallah that night and became extremely hostile.

I was then interrogated and screamed at by three border agents with a large line of other American tourists who were behind me. I was immediately detained without explanation and my passport was taken from me.

Since my bags were already in Israel, I only had my backpack on my person and the border patrol made rude comments about me, stating, “How do you expect to even survive with just one bag”?

I kindly explained to the agents that my belongings already came through the border checkpoint with my travel companion and that they were waiting for me.

This answer was not sufficient for them. And they made more rude comments regarding the amount of money I had in my wallet. The amount of money (50 Jordanian dinar) I had in my wallet should have been totally irrelevant since I intended on using my debit card within Israel.

They forced me to sit alone after I provided them with addresses, my travel companion’s information, and did not inform me what was happening.

After approximately three hours, I was informed by the military on site that I was to be returned to Jordan without my belongings. I had important medications in my bags that I could not be without, but the border control and military disregarded this and made rude comments about my need for my medication, prescription glasses, and contact lenses.

The reason they gave me was: “it is unlikely that someone invited you to a wedding here and that you’re disorganized, so for the safety of Israel, you’re being sent back to Jordan”.

I’m not sure how attending a wedding and tourism are reasons for being denied access to a country.

The rudeness of the Israeli staff at the King Hussein Bridge checkpoint was inexcusable and a black mark on the face of the Israeli military and government. I was also forced to have my fingerprints taken and was made to feel like I was a criminal, coupled with insults, until I was forced on a bus back to the Jordanian side, where I was treated very kindly by the police and was assured that I would return to Amman safely.

No human being should have to endure ridicule and intimidation for just simply traveling. I have contacted the US Embassy to inform them of this issue.

I am disgusted and disappointed that a country would prefer to dehumanize people than let them move freely. What happened today was just a taste of what Palestinians go through every. single. day.

Laura Comstock

Laura Comstock is a senior History and Middle East Studies student at Bloomsburg University. Her research interests focus on minority relations in the Middle East, primarily within Egypt and occupied Palestine. You can follow her on twitter at @yallayalaura.

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40 Responses

  1. LiberatePalestine on July 2, 2019, 2:26 pm

    → I’m not sure how attending a wedding and tourism are reasons for being denied access to a country.

    Those were not, of course, the reasons for denying you admission to occupied Palestine.

    I was harassed at the border of Palestine for carrying a couple of books in Arabic and a few pages of Arabic in my own handwriting.

  2. Marnie on July 3, 2019, 1:47 am

    “The only democracy in the Middle East” unless:
    You are Palestinian.
    The friend of a Palestinian.
    The student of a Palestinian.
    Have el or al or any other suspicious sounding arabic in your name or in the names of family members or friends, someone you knew in university, high school, grade school, kindergarten or were in the same nursery with when you were born.
    You have ‘suspicious’ literature in your belongings, i.e., anything that refers to Palestine.
    Your facebook page shows you to be human.
    **This is only a partial list.

    • LiberatePalestine on July 3, 2019, 9:48 am

      Yes, it’s only a partial list. Let’s add these, for starters:

      * You are not Jewish.
      * You are Jewish but not by the standards of the Zionist entity.
      * You are not white.
      * You are Jewish but marry or seek to marry someone who is not (again, by the Zionist entity’s standards).
      * You actively oppose Zionism.

  3. on July 3, 2019, 6:58 am

    thank you Laura i enjoyed reading your article

  4. CigarGod on July 3, 2019, 10:55 am

    “…was then interrogated and screamed at by three border agents…”

    I’m always amazed at how much spittal flies from the mouths of hysterical zionists whenever they get excited.
    The very next step would seem to be them sinking their rabid teeth into you.

  5. Ossinev on July 3, 2019, 1:37 pm

    @Marnie
    Yes only a partial list. I would add:
    Claim that there is or ever was a Palestine
    Claim that there are or ever were native Palestinians.
    And fresh off the press:
    https://www.timesofisrael.com/palestinian-soccer-association-postpones-cup-final-after-israel-blocks-travel/
    = have the audacity to try to transit Israel to play football.
    Yes these “Democratic” Zios in their Fascist ardour even manage to puke all over the beautiful game

  6. genesto on July 3, 2019, 2:39 pm

    Laura,

    So sorry for your rude awakening, but many of us that visit this site regularly are not at all surprised by your treatment. A number of us (I presume), including myself, have experienced the brutality, in one form or another, of this deeply paranoiac country. I was part of the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla that simply tried to bring humanitarian relief to Gaza with shipments of medicine, construction materials, etc. We were well-meaning and unarmed. However, for our efforts, 10 of us were murdered, many more wounded, some permanently disabled, plundered (anything of value was stolen and never returned) , imprisoned for 3 days and subjected to constant, mind-numbing interrogation and sleep deprivation. This, unfortunately, is how this nation treats anyone who, in the least, shows any sympathy for the Palestinian people. And it continues to get worse. The state of Israel has truly lost its soul and our country should stop enabling its constant oppression of the Palestinians, which is at the root of the Middle East chaos in which we find ourselves today.

    So, once again, I’m sorry you had to endure this. But, as you’ve done by writing this article, you can do your part towards ending this madness by speaking out against our continuing to support Israel’s oppression – an oppression financed through corrupted US politicians paid handsomely by Israel to act as its agents against their own country’s best interests.

    Welcome to the fight!

    • mondonut on July 3, 2019, 3:24 pm

      @genesto the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla that simply tried to bring humanitarian relief to Gaza

      This is a lie. Providing humanitarian relief was never the point of the flotillas, it was just the excuse.

      • genesto on July 3, 2019, 4:10 pm

        With all due respect, Mondo, you are FOS!

        I KNOW what was in the containers going to Gaza since I personally inspected them as they were being loaded. There were no weapons! And no weapons were taken aboard. Even your motherland, Israel, finally admitted to that! No, as I said, Israel is a deeply paranoid country. Why else would it have considered me , a short, aging man (64 at the time), with no record of violence of any sort, an ‘existential threat’ to its precious state (just check with what your Reut Institute has to say about it). It would be laughable if it wasn’t so pathetic!

        No, Mr. Nut, you have been thoroughly brainwashed by your Zionist masters. Such a pity to live your life in eternal bondage to a fantasy!!

      • echinococcus on July 3, 2019, 4:30 pm

        The Nut is like an itch clamoring to be scratched.

        “Providing humanitarian relief was never the point of the flotillas, it was just the excuse.”

        An excuse for what? For showing the world what a bunch of lowlife murderers you guys are?
        Well, the proof is there. That’s what you guys are. Continue murdering.

      • genesto on July 3, 2019, 5:17 pm

        Yeah, it’s really hard, I think, to know what exactly is Mondonut. Is he just a hasbara-spewing troll putting out all this garbage knowing that it is totally unsubstantiated you-know-what, or a truly, willfully ignorant Zionist who absolutely shudders at the thought that he just might be wrong about all of this and can’t possibly face the identity crisis that would result from such a revelation .

        In any case, IMHO, he’s a truly pathetic figure.

      • echinococcus on July 3, 2019, 5:46 pm

        Genesto,

        No need for much speculation about “what exactly the Nut is”… he’s a Zionist, enough said.

      • LiberatePalestine on July 3, 2019, 6:08 pm

        Genesto, I should like to take this opportunity to thank you for your humanistic efforts to provide the Palestinians of Gaza with essential supplies denied them by the Zionists and with political support.

        → The state of Israel has truly lost its soul

        The Zionist entity never had a soul at all. It was born in depravity and in depravity it has remained.

        → Providing humanitarian relief was never the point of the flotillas, it was just the excuse.

        Nonsense. The ships were packed with humanitarian donations. Even if it had been just an excuse, however, the Zionist murder and oppression of the principled participants in that flotilla would have been no less criminal and contemptible.

        Humanitarian relief was needed because of the Zionist entity’s genocidal warfare against the people living in Gaza. That warfare too is a contemptible crime of the Zionists.

      • mondonut on July 3, 2019, 11:00 pm

        @genesto
        @echinococcus
        @LiberatePalestine

        Dissembling, mock indignation, more lies and ad hominem. Typical and to be expected of course but none of which disproves what I said (and I said nothing of weapons).

        Aside from the fact that Gaza had no need of 600 virtue-signaling tourists in Gaza, or that the 600 activists had zero expectation of arriving in Gaza (at least those who knew what was going on), or that the supplies could have arrived by land, that fact remains that the flotilla was just another in a series organized by the Free Gaza Movement. And Free Gaza made no pretense of what they were doing, namely to directly confront the Israeli military in an attempt to break the entirely legal naval blockade.

        This is directly from the Free Gaza home page where any mention of aid is conspicuously absent:

        – Our mission is to break the Israel’s illegal siege…
        – Free Gaza believes in direct action in confronting Israel’s abuse of Palestinians…
        – no better example of direct action than Free Gaza’s sustained attempts to break the siege…
        – There have been several waves of boats that have tried to break the seige since then…

      • genesto on July 4, 2019, 3:06 pm

        Thank you, LiberatePalestine. I really appreciate it. As for Mondonut, he goes off the track when he says that the siege of Gaza was entirely legal. That, of course, is true only within the Zionists’ self-serving definition of international law. Other than their small group of ultra Zionists here in the US, and the majority of Israel’s Jewish citizens, – all of whom make up a very small minority of the world’s population – no one believes that the siege of Gaza was, and is, legal!

        The rest of Nut’s arguments are more of the same hasbara nonsense I, and most (if not all) of you who are regular Mondoweiss followers, have heard for many years. I don’t feel the need to waste any more time trying to address them. After all, the Zionists would love nothing better than to waste all of our time responding to their absurdist remarks. So, let’s all move on and ignore anything else the Nut has to say about this.

      • mondonut on July 5, 2019, 1:43 pm

        @genesto The rest of Nut’s arguments are more of the same hasbara nonsense

        Hasbara nonsense lifted directly from the very organization you claim to have participated in?

  7. Mayhem on July 3, 2019, 9:25 pm

    So Ms Comstock was just wanting to go to Ramallah for a wedding. Yeh yeh.
    This woman is evidently an activist and agitator and the Israeli officials must have been aware of that as was the NYT a couple of months ago in this article How one student’s activism caught The New York Times’ attention

    • amigo on July 4, 2019, 3:45 pm

      “Dissembling, mock indignation, more lies” mondonutcase

      That,s a laugh coming for the mendacious fabulist who is in the payroll of the propaganda arm of the rogue regime.Check his archives and marvel at the breadth of deceit this troll will resort to , to satisfy his masters at Hasbara central.

      We now understand why you dumped Catholicism , too many rules re honesty and caring for your fellow man.Can,t worry about such minor problems when there is an apartheid rogue regime to run.

      Keep up the good worknutcase.The zios need no enemies with friends like you.

      • genesto on July 5, 2019, 12:37 pm

        Thanks, amigo, for satisfying all my suspicions of this character, Mondonut. He fits the profile of the hasbarist troll bought and paid for by Zionist Central, i.e. Israel.

      • Mooser on July 5, 2019, 1:05 pm

        ” bought and paid for by Zionist Central, i.e. Israel.”

        Maybe bought and paid for by Zionist Comedy Central. He’s a parody of a Zionist.

      • Mayhem on July 11, 2019, 6:41 am

        @amigo, thank you for a typically spiteful MW ad-hominem attack. It goes to show the paucity of your position. Ready to insult, unable to reason.

    • Marnie on July 5, 2019, 3:08 am

      The only thing that doesn’t catch the attention of the NYT is the apartheid criminal ‘state’ that is called israel. They are practically the first in line to call out anything that doesn’t kiss the fat ass of the zionissssst state.

      Oooh, an ‘activist’ and ‘agitator’. You sound just like the good ol’ boys claiming that James Cheney and the 2 white boys were exactly the same thing. Just agitators who got what was coming to them. You must be proud now. Yeh Yeh.

  8. Ossinev on July 4, 2019, 7:39 am

    @Mondonut
    “the entirely legal naval blockade”.
    What planet do you live on ? No yes silly me it`s Planet Zion of course.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-un-gaza-rights/u-n-experts-say-israels-blockade-of-gaza-illegal-idUSTRE78C59R20110913

    • mondonut on July 4, 2019, 1:36 pm

      @Ossinev What planet do you live on?

      Really? A link in which two UN groups reach separate and opposite conclusions? And you offer this as evidence of what?

      • Marnie on July 5, 2019, 3:10 am

        @yeh yeh mayhem

        ‘There are none as blind as those who refuse to see.’

        I think it’s way past time providing the likes of you with ‘evidence’. It’s on you to provide that the zionist state is the apartheid state that it is. EVIDENCE PLEASE!

      • mondonut on July 5, 2019, 1:41 pm

        @Marnie It’s on you to provide that the zionist state is the apartheid state that it is. EVIDENCE PLEASE!

        Ha! Why would I provide “evidence” for that, when I do not believe that it is?

  9. Ismail on July 5, 2019, 3:25 pm

    Mondonut thinks he’s planted a decisive punch in claiming that providing humanitarian aid was not the reason for Mavi Mamara’s courageous confrontation with Israel’s pirates off the coast of Gaza. The fact is, it doesn’t matter.

    Guess what? The point of the Woolworth lunch counter sit-ins during the civil rights era in the US was not primarily to grab a ham sandwich. It was to highlight the brutality of a vicious system in concrete terms.

    If Woolworth’s said, “Look, come around back and we’ll fix you up with some fine grub”, the demonstrators would have declined, just as the heros on the Mavi Marmara declined Isreal’s offer to offload their cargo at an Israeli port. Israel pointed to this refusal as proof that it wasn’t really about aid, just as mondonut is doing here.

    Of course they wanted to get supplies to immiserated Gazans, just as the Woolworth heros ultimately wanted to have lunch like everyone else. But their immediate goal was political – to shine a light on injustice, to disrupt a malignant normality.

    When Zionists try to own the narrative of this event by claiming that that there was something duplicitous about the real aims of the blockade busters, the best response is to own the tactic of the freedom sailors- “Of course they wanted to do more than deliver a band-aid’s worth of solace – they wanted to overturn the “business as usual ” model and underscore how vicious Israel’s blockade is. They were activists, not the Red Cross.”

    • mondonut on July 5, 2019, 4:00 pm

      @Ismail But their immediate goal was political …

      Of course it was. How hard is that to understand? But glad to see that you agree with my original comment.

    • RoHa on July 6, 2019, 2:55 am

      “…the heroes on the Mavi Marmara declined Isreal’s offer to offload their cargo at an Israeli port.”

      Where it would have been stolen by the Israelis.

      • jon s on July 8, 2019, 8:18 am

        There was no cargo on the Mavi Marmara. The cargo hold was found to be empty.

      • Mooser on July 8, 2019, 12:24 pm

        “There was no cargo on the Mavi Marmara. The cargo hold was found to be empty.”

        “Jon s” says so! And who among us has the temerity to call a cretin a liar?

      • Talkback on July 8, 2019, 6:27 pm

        jon s: “There was no cargo on the Mavi Marmara. The cargo hold was found to be empty.”

        Being dishonest as usual? The Mavi Marmara is a passenger not a cargo ship. Only 3 of the six ships were carrying humanitarian aid and construction materials.

    • genesto on July 6, 2019, 4:36 pm

      Excellent comeback Ismail! Yes, Nut, we ALL agree with your assessment that bringing humanitarian relief wasn’t the reason for the flotilla, at least, not the MAIN reason. It WAS about ending the illegal siege! Let me repeat, ENDING THE ILLEGAL SIEGE! Since you, and a few of your Zionist accomplices, believe that the siege was legal, there’s really no point in continuing this argument, is there? As with all the other hardcore Zionists, you clearly believe in international law only as it helps Israel. Period! International law is very clear that the siege of Gaza – in fact, the Occupation as a whole – is ILLEGAL!

      Oh, and that other UN report supporting Israel? That worthless piece of rubbish accomplished nothing more than give new meaning to the word whitewash!

      • mondonut on July 6, 2019, 5:52 pm

        @genesto we ALL agree with your assessment that bringing humanitarian relief wasn’t the reason for the flotilla

        You just spent a few days hurling invective when I said that and now you want to act as if that was your point all along? For the record, international law is not very clear about the Gaza naval blockade, the only thing you have to offer is the opinion of human rights activists and well known Israeli haters.

        And as if you were not confused enough, you want to believe that Gaza is both occupied by Israel (it is not) and illegally blockaded. If Gaza were occupied (again, it is not) Israel would be entitled to complete control of its borders. You cannot have it both ways,.

      • LiberatePalestine on July 6, 2019, 9:56 pm

        Had they merely wanted to deliver a few cartons of supplies, they would have chosen very expensive and inefficient means to achieve their goal. Beyond that, they would have been complicit in the racial genocide that the Zionist entity is perpetrating in occupied Gaza and the rest of Palestine, for they would have helped to perpetuate it by delivering essential supplies without challenging the criminal Zionist project.

        The Gaza Freedom Flotilla has always been open about its noble objectives.

      • genesto on July 8, 2019, 1:37 pm

        Thanks again, LiberatePalestine, for responding to the Nut and defending the objectives of the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla. But, I truly believe that responding to the Nut is a glorious waste of time. I, personally, am done with him/her (are we aware of which he/she is?). If you answer one ridiculous charge/comment by the Nut, he/she will come up with yet another, proving my point that his/her only purpose is to waste our time.

        So, thanks again, but just let it go at this point. Let the Nut just whistle in the wind!

      • Talkback on July 8, 2019, 7:30 pm

        mondonut: ” For the record, international law is not very clear about the Gaza naval blockade, the only thing you have to offer is the opinion of human rights activists and well known Israeli haters.”

        That may be the opinion of Israel’s surpreme Apartheid court and well known Nonjew haters. For the rest of the world international law is very clear:

        “A panel of five independent U.N. rights experts reporting to the U.N. Human Rights Council rejected that conclusion, saying the blockade had subjected Gazans to collective punishment in “flagrant contravention of international human rights and humanitarian law … “An earlier fact-finding mission named by the same U.N. forum to investigate the flotilla incident also found in a report last September that the blockade violated international law. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says the blockade violates the Geneva Conventions.”
        https://www.reuters.com/article/us-un-gaza-rights-idUSTRE78C59R20110913

        “Israel’s Gaza blockade breaks law, says ICRC”
        “The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Monday Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip violates the Geneva Conventions and called for its lifting”
        https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-blockade-icrc-idUSTRE65D00R20100614

        mondonut: “And as if you were not confused enough, you want to believe that Gaza is both occupied by Israel (it is not) and illegally blockaded,”

        Which is only a contradiction for those who are really confused and claim that Gaza is not part of occupied Palestine and can’t be be put under blockade at the same time. Again the UN in 2009:
        “Yes, the U.N. defines Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem as Occupied Palestinian Territory. No, that definition hasn’t changed,” the spokesman replied.

        Farhan Haq, spokesman for the secretary-general, told CNN Monday that the official status of Gaza would change only through a decision of the U.N. Security Council.”
        http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/01/06/israel.gaza.occupation.question/index.html

  10. Ossinev on July 8, 2019, 2:39 pm

    @Jons
    “There was no cargo on the Mavi Marmara. The cargo hold was found to be empty”
    If true it must have really pissed off the elite wannabe Zio “Navy Seals” which would explain why they took it out on the human “cargo”. Nothing quite like Zio psychos on killing sprees. No doubt their grandpapas had told them about all the freebie massacre fun which they had during the Nakba and they are continually frustrated at not having the opportunity to get a little bit of that sort of action. Sniping from the Gaza towers doesn`t give quite the same buzz ?

    • genesto on July 8, 2019, 6:16 pm

      Wow! I missed this. So, I shouldn’t have believed my lying eyes when I saw the cargo ships being loaded in port! I must have been hallucinating, or something!

      If there was no cargo, then all of the motorized wheelchairs, which were stripped of their motors and anything else of value, didn’t exist as well. There are pictures of the before and after of these. But, I’m sure they were all photo shopped in Pallywood, as the Zionists like to say.

      Unbelievable!!!

      • mondonut on July 8, 2019, 7:21 pm

        @genesto I must have been hallucinating, or something!

        Talkback says: The Mavi Marmara is a passenger not a cargo ship. Only 3 of the six ships were carrying humanitarian aid and construction materials.

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