ByÂ MORDECAI SPECKTOR
Three pro-Palestinian activists from the Twin Cities were denied entry into Israel last week. Karen Sullivan, a member of the Anti-War Committee, was detained at Ben-Gurion Airport last Friday, and put on a return flight on Saturday.
Sarah Martin, a member of Women Against Military Madness, and Katrina Plotz, of the Anti-War Committee, refused to get on a return flight. They were forcibly deported on Sunday, and returned to the Twin Cities on Monday afternoon.
“I think they were tipped off about us,” Martin, a retired nurse, said at a press conference Monday afternoon at the Lindbergh Terminal. She and Plotz had just returned from Israel, via a stop in Atlanta. “They seemed to know that we were coming.”
Plotz said that they were traveling under the auspices of the Chicago-based Palestine Solidarity Group, and had planned to visit with Palestinians in the West Bank. Neither of the women had previously visited Israel or the Palestinian territories.
During their detention at Ben-Gurion, Plotz said that a police officer showed her a Web site for the Anti-War Committee and pointed to her name. She said that he knew that she had been involved in protests at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul last year.
Martin said she was informed by an Israeli official that she would not be allowed to enter Israel because “we were security threats…. We were not told of our rights, of the right to have an appeal.” She mentioned that the security office at the airport had closed for Shabbat.
“We were a security threat,” reiterated Martin. “To them we are, because they do not want the reality of Palestine known to the outside world. And that was our point, to go there and talk with people and see life as it is, and bring that word back.”
Plotz mentioned that seven others in their delegation managed to enter Israel. She said that the border security officials apparently “bought their story” that they were tourists to Israel.
“Israel is a sovereign country, every sovereign country has the right to deny entry to someone that he suspects is not coming bona fide,” said Orli Gil, Israel’s consul general to the Midwest. The Chicago-based diplomat visited the Twin Cities this week, and spoke with the American Jewish World on Tuesday.
“We suspected that these are not innocent tourists,” Gil added. “We suspected that they were not there to carry out lawful, legitimate tasks, so we chose to deport them.”
Gil explained that the fact that the local activists were heading for the West Bank “is not a trigger to hold them from entry to Israel.” Rather, security officials suspected that the activists might “provoke disturbances and be involved in unlawful activities,” according to Gil.
Orli Gil, Israelâ€™s consul general to the Midwest, says that the Israelis “suspected that these are not innocent tourists….not there to carry out lawful, legitimate tasks, so we chose to deport them.â€
what kind of due process is this? i’m wondering how this assessment was made? is meeting with any palestinians in any capacity an “unlawful and illegitimate task”? to the racist israeli government, yes!
the palestinian people know of this repression, lack of due process, and criminalization of their very existence. and we commend these brave women from minnesota for their courage and conviction.
The process that goes into denying entry, and forced deportation is much more complex than one person’s hunch and then the “racist Israeli government” sending someone away. As someone that has been detained entering Israel multiple times, for multiple reasons, I can assure you that this process is very lengthy, and thorough.
The majority of Israel’s population is white, as is the government. They turned away a while women from Minnesota. Clarify how you took that fact and jumped to the conclusion that Israel is racist?
What happens when Israel publishes their full process for letting people enter the country? Then people with ill intentions can work the system, and make the government “buy” their stories, to enter the country.
If you want to speak about the Palestinian people and repression, you should take a look at Hamas and to a lesser extent, Fatah. The treatment of the Palestinians by Hamas is disgusting, and in that sense, I absolutely think we need to work towards freeing Palestine.
To the brave women from Minnesota, I implore you to look not only look at the picture you see on the surface, but look at the underlying causes for this conflict. Those that are part of the anti-war and anti-military groups, look at numerous peace treaties and peace offerings Israel has proposed to the Palestinian people, in return for the 2nd Intifada, or continued rocket attackers with a renewed vow to wipe Israel off the face of the earth in a fiery revenge (according to Hamas’s charter).
No one wants peace more than Israel.
Do you have children? Every Israeli parent sends their children to the army to risk their lives. Don’t you think that is enough of an incentive to work for peace?
I think, hope, and pray that we can work towards a lasting peace, but to get there I think both sides need to come to the bargaining table, recognize each other’s struggle and right to exist as a free people, and then and only then will we have peace.
These 3 women identify themselves as Palestinian “activists” and the groups they are affiliated with, WAMM and the AWC, do not recognize Israel’s right to exist and also support the concept at least of Palestinian armed revolution, aka “terrorism”.
As stated, every sovereign nation, including Israel, has the right to deny entry to foreigners. I wouldn’t want foreigners coming to the US who support those seeking its destruction. This should be a non-issue… except that it IS Israel.
It took a special envoy headed by former Prez Clinton to free the US journalists being held in N Korea and it took an act of G-d to free the US journalist imprisoned in Iran. Israel, if anything, should be thanked for treating these troublemakers with dignity and putting them on a jet plane back home.
Instead, Israel’s detractors never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity… falsely accusing of Israel of racism and repression… But what this is really about is sovereign rights.