Barred Voices: Israel Denies Entry to Pro-Palestinian Advocates

While Israelis are now enjoying visiting the US without a Visa under US Visa Waiver Program. Israel is preventing US citizens of Palestinian descent and other US citizens who support Palestinians from joining their loved ones for their most important life-cycle events such as births, weddings, and funerals or to come to provide crucial care for ailing close relatives.

List of USA citizens denied entry to Palestine

Here is a short list of some people who are banned by the only democracy from visiting Palestine because they spoke publicly in defense of the Palestinian people:

Two Jewish American intellectuals, Dr Norman Finkelstein and Professor Noam Chomsky were detained at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv and were denied entry permits to the Palestinian territories. In 2008 and 2010, both Finkelstein and Chomsky respectively received a ten-year ban from entering the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Israel, which was in clear violation of the 1951 Friendship, Commerce and Navigation Treaty.

Both are fierce critics of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians, Finkelstein and Chomsky have been vilified as “self-hating Jews.”

In February 2013, Nour Joudah, 25, a Palestinian-American masters graduate of Georgetown who teaches at the Friends School in Ramallah, was denied entry by Israel twice in two months from going back to her classes in Palestine. Noura was denied entry into Ramallah after a short family visit in the US. She was informed at King Hussein's crossing to go back and fly to Tel Aviv and she did but to be told again she is not allowed in. She wrote her students a letter to tell them she does not think she will be back. If that is not cruel, I don't know what!

In September 2013, Yara Karamalawy, a Palestinian-American citizen was denied entry to Israel after she was told, "There is no such thing as Palestine." Miss Karmalawy holds a B.A. in Political Science and Legal Studies with a focus on the Middle East from UC Santa Cruz and was pursuing an international law degree.

In 2014 Israel banned Norwegian Doctor and human rights activist, Dr. Mads Gilbert from entering Gaza for life. Dr. Gilbert has worked in Gaza Al-Shafa hospitals during every Israeli military assault on Gaza since 2008. Israel considers him a “security risk." He said, “I document what I see and that makes me trouble for Israel.” His other famous quote, "No siege, no tunnels, no occupation, no rocks."

In 2015, a 35-year-old German journalist Martin Lejeune was deported by Israel and was told by Israel that he is banned for 10 years. Mr. Lejeune was a freelance writer who lived and reported from Gaza during the Israeli 2014 war on Gaza.

Leading American writer Susan Abulhawa was denied entry to her native homeland in Palestine by Israel in 2015 and 2016. Miss Abulhawa was forced to wait over seven hours and have endured six different interrogations before she was told she was “uncooperative” and was put on the next flight leaving to the US. There was no peep from our US State Department.

In 2016, US lawmakers Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar made an international news when ungrateful Israel, at the urging of President Trump, denied entry permit thereby preventing Rep. Tlaib from meeting and saying good-bye to her aging grandmother. I never witnessed such a humiliation to a Palestinian, let alone the only Palestinian serving in the US congress.

In 2017, five members of an interfaith delegation (Muslim, Christian & Jewish leaders) including Rabbi Alissa Wise from Jewish Voice for Peace were prevented from boarding their flight to Israel because of their public criticism of the Israeli government’s policies towards Palestinians.

In August 2018, Israel shows the inability to tolerate any form of criticism and it subjects Jews and non-Jews to political profiling.

That is what happened to Ariel Gold, a prominent Jewish American activist and CODEPINK national co-director, Gold was denied entry into Israel and was deported back to the US following seven hours of grilling interrogation at Ben Gurion International Airport. Israel accused Miss Gold of being critical of Israel and sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. She was labeled as "a traitorous Jew."

Other citizens denied entry to Palestine

Nearly two decades ago, a British and a Danish citizen were denied entry permit to Palestine with no explanation given:

  • Hanan Chehata, a pro-Palestinian British lawyer of Egyptian descent, was deported to the UK the day after she arrived in Tel Aviv.
  • A Danish Palestinian activist Mohammad Doukhi was denied the right to visit his hometown in Zeeb village, Akka District. He took his wife and children to visit for the first time their hometown in Palestine to be told entry is denied.

Even though the West Bank and Gaza are occupied territories and are not part of Israel, Israeli controls all points of entry and exists to them. Every time US citizens are denied entry permit by Israel, the State Department's immediate response always, "We do not interfere in the internal affairs of a foreign government.” That is a cowardly and shameful response.

Mahmoud El-Yousseph is a Palestinian freelance writer and retired USAF veteran. He could be reached at: [email protected]

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