When US congress members Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar were barred from entering Israel it was shocking for many. Traveling for an American citizen is a privilege often taken for granted. But if you are a Palestinian living under Israel occupation it becomes almost impossible. “Most of our visas get rejected,” Malkon Marizian explains to Mondoweiss. “This is related to our status. It is all related to the occupation.”
College senior Rachel Marandett was set to leave New Jersey on an El Al flight to Tel Aviv to carry out research when Israeli security took her aside for interrogation. She was partially strip searched and questioned for an hour and a half about her about her family, her research, and specifically her Arab and Arab-American friends and relationships she made while studying in Morocco. “They were thought policing. They were racially profiling my friends. They were afraid of the fact that I wasn’t afraid of the Middle East and the people who call it home,” Marandett writes.
Yesterday, Palestinian-American Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) addressed a Congressional briefing organized by American Muslims for Palestine on Israel’s abuse of US citizens. She shared her own family’s story of separate-and-unequal treatment by Israel, and urged the Capitol Hill audience to “push back against these kinds of racist policies.”
Laura Comstock shares her experience trying to enter the West Bank from Jordan to attend a wedding in Ramallah: “[The Israeli border agents’] 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.”
Three months after Palestinian-American author Susan Abulhawa was denied entry to her homeland to participate in the Kalimat Literature Festival, organizers have launched a public campaign to help fundraise the legal fees incurred around her case.
Nai Barghouti shares a story of being racially profiled and harassed at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport: “As furious as I am at the Israeli security officer’s ugly racism and vengefulness, I felt slightly bad for her. Despite her best efforts to humiliate me, I shall go on resisting her state’s racism and apartheid with my music. She, however, will continue to search Palestinians’ underwear and be an insignificant tool of a system of racist oppression.”
Writer Susan Abulhawa was detained for 36 hours at Ben Gurion airport before being deported and managed to sneak a pencil into the detention center and leave messages on the wall– Free Palestine — and read Colson Whitehead’s novel The Underground Railroad.
There are few places in Israel where its apartheid character is more conspicuous than the imposing international airport just outside Tel Aviv, named after the country’s founding father, David Ben Gurion. Jonathan Cook writes that Peter Beinart’s interrogation at Ben Gurion airport was just the opening salvo in the Israeli right’s war against Jewish dissent: “It is a slope liberal Jews will find gets ever more slippery.”
Jonathan Ofir writes that Reza Aslan’s decision to speak out about the abuse he received trying to enter Israel after Peter Beinart made his story public reminds him of the momentum and grass roots power of the MeToo movement: “There is this element of a critical mass, where people actually start to listen. It’s no longer a lone voice here, a single story there – it becomes a movement.”
Meyer Koplow is the chair of Brandeis University and gives millions to Israel. He was interrogated at the Israeli airport two days ago because he had a pamphlet with the word Palestine on it and had visited the West Bank with a pro-Israel group called Encounter. Security accused him of lying and misrepresenting Encounter’s aims– in another sign of growing chasm between US Jews and Israeli Jews.