By Sarah Robinson
December 8, 2016
[Ed. note: Sarah Robinson is a South African/Canadian writer who has worked as a human rights observer in Israel/Palestine with Ecumenical Accompaniment Program to Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) and Christian Peacemakers Team (CPT). On October 17, Sarah was detained as she arrived at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. She was subsequently deported and banned from re-entry for five years.]
I am not done. As I have committed to before, I will do what I can where I am to collaborate in the struggle to bring justice to Palestine and Israel. I am not giving up. I will not let the Israelis win. They cannot overcome my desire and my heart for a solution to the Israel and Palestine conflict. It is likely that I will never have the chance to have my feet on the ground in Palestine but my heart will always be there.
It has been just over seven weeks since I was deported from Israel while trying to visit Palestine. I wrote a post detailing my experience which I shared on my blog and my Facebook page. The post was read by several thousand people and the story was picked up by multiple news agencies and spread further. It was interesting to receive feedback from people who had had similar experiences while trying to enter Israel. For many readers, my post was their first exposure to what the Israeli’s are afraid of and, as a result, how they treat foreigners attempting to get to Palestine. I understand that the publicity my post received has not helped my chances of getting back to Israel and Palestine but I believe it was important to share my story.
I was devastated to be deported. For the last three years, my goal and life objective has been to get back to Palestine to work full time and establish myself there. Even though the Israeli’s did not ban me from attempting to enter the country again, I realize that it is unlikely they will ever approve an application from me requesting a visa. I plan to contact the Israeli embassy in South Africa in January to get a sense of what my prospects are, but, in the meantime, there is not much I can do.
I have experienced vastly differing emotions over the past seven weeks. I embarked on my trip to Palestine knowing that deportation was a strong possibility so I had already processed some of the loss beforehand. However, preparing for an experience and living an experience are two different things and the journey I have engaged in has been a mixture of expectation and surprise. I have felt disappointed, disillusioned, angry, confused, sad, discouraged, and helpless. In this myriad of emotion, the overriding feeling, has been one of absolute peace. I know how strange this sounds. How could I feel peace about the maddening situation of been deported? I don’t really know how to explain it and I don’t really understand it, but it is real and the sense of peace has helped me process this experience with logic and openness.