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Friday, 31 July 2015

The Racism of Israel’s Entry System at Ben-Gurion Airport

Leading American writer Abulhawa is denied entry to Palestine 

Susan Abuhalwa
Annie Robbins on July 30, 2015 

i waited over seven hours and endured six different interrogations, and this is the conversation (from memory) that barred me from entering my homeland on the grounds that I was uncooperative. It was with an extremely unpleasant woman in uniform, red hair and massive amounts of makeup (for some reason, that's relevant). Keep in mind that all this information was already obtained by each interrogator before her:
Israel's racist daubings on passport
Her: Why are you here?

Me: visiting family, friends and opening ceremonies for playgrounds.

Her: where is your family?
Israeli refusal of entry letter
Me: Jerusalem

Her: what is the relation?

Me: cousin

Her: (clearly agitated with me) no aunts uncles?

Me: no

Her: where are you staying in Jerusalem?

Me: my cousin

Her: what is his name?

Me: (gave his name)

Her: other cousins.

Me: you want the names of all my cousins?

Her: yes

Me: there's hundreds of them. It's a big family. I don't get what you're asking.

Her:(slams her hand down on desk) who are you staying with?

Me: My cousin Adel, whose name and number I just gave you, along with every other official who asked.

Her: (now very angry) I am asking the questions.

Me: ...

Her: (slams hand again on table) who else lives with your cousin?

Me: his wife and kids

Her: what are their names

Me: (one second brain freeze, looking incredulous, but conjuring the names to tell her)

Her: Why you not answer the questions?

Me: I'm answering all your questions

Her: you are not answering how I like

Me: I can't read your mind and I don't care what you like. I'm answering your questions.

Her: you don't care? Ok. Get out. I will show you.

She then calls Stephanie in and asks her a bunch of questions about me. An hour later she and another called me over to tell me that I'm denied entry for non cooperation. I actually lost it. I screamed at them both. They threatened. I assure them I wasn't afraid. Strangely I actually wasn't. I ordinarily would be. I made a scene. A big one. I could hardly believe the insane feeling I had. They brought out three soldiers who just stood and stared at me. I kept yelling. I told them they're the ones who should go back. I said it was bad enough we have to enter like tourists and endure their endless humiliations and power plays. Everything inside of me was shaking, but I don't think it made its way outwardly. I don't know what I looked like to others. Crazy? insane? brave? Desperate? I did realize at some point that they had no idea what to do with me. That they had expected me to just go quietly, but I was very loud instead. The truth is that I just wanted to cry. A desperate simething from my gut. They give us so much to cry over. All the time. So I just screamed at them. Thieves, occupiers I called them. You wish you had the same roots as I do, I screamed. You should be the one to leave, not me. I'm a daughter of this land. Then they took me to my luggage and sent me in the bus. I regret walking and not making them carry me.

@USConsulJO US Embassy in Amman would not even let me in the door. Nor would they even take my name or allow me to lodge a complaint at reception. At a minimum these representatives of the US State Dept should be compiling statistics on the systematic humiliations and denial of entry to US citizens. Israel is the biggest recipient of US handouts in the world. I was told told that another person in front of me "a real American" according to the receptionist, who was denied entry at the Jisr, and as far as I can tell, they didn't take his information either. If any of you are inclined, please write/call or tweet to the embassy


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