If supporting a non-violent boycott of the settlements makes me an enemy of the Israeli state, so be it. But Israel’s border officers will have to hear my story before they turn me away for good.
By Letty Cottin Pogrebin / Haaretz
March 9, 2017
I can’t unsee what I’ve seen or ignore what I know. The violation of another people by the Jewish State in the name of the Jewish people has pricked my conscience and inspired my activism over these last four decades. It makes me mourn for the principles enshrined in Israel’s Declaration of Independence whose words, now moribund, once sent us out in the streets dancing for joy. . . . If that makes me an enemy of the state, so be it. But like many other Jews outraged by this new ban, I will return because Israel’s founders guaranteed me refuge and my parents taught me that Israel was my second home. The border officers will have to look me in the eyes and hear my story before they turn me away for good.
Okay, yes, I’ve written critical articles and signed Open Letters protesting Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and decrying the settlement enterprise; and yes, I’ve been a member of Americans for Peace Now for more than 30 years and a supporter of B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch, ACRI, and the New Israel Fund, among other “suspect” organizations. So it’s a safe bet that, under the new Israeli entry ban, I’m going to end up on the government’s blacklist.
But if they’re going to ban me, I think they ought to know a few other facts about the American Jewish woman they’ve judged too dangerous to step foot beyond the security gate at Ben Gurion airport. To wit:
- My paternal grandparents made aliyah in the 1930s and both are buried in Tiberias, my grandfather the victim of an Arab raid, my grandmother the casualty of her traumatic loss.
- I grew up in Queens, N.Y., with parents who were fierce Zionist activists and fundraisers for the Yishuv (pre-state Jewish Palestine) in the 1940s and ’50s. My father served as president of the regional Zionist Organization of America, my mother as president of the local chapter of Hadassah.
- A disproportionate amount of my parents’ free time and disposable income went to support the Zionist dream. My father’s life, in particular, often felt like one long meeting with one agenda: Help make Israel a reality.
- On May 14, 1948, a month before my ninth birthday, my family and our synagogue friends literally danced in the streets to celebrate Israel’s Declaration of Independence. That’s not something a kid forgets.