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.