[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.
[Sarah Robinson is a volunteer with the World Council of Churches who has written about Israel-Palestine since 2012. On October 17, she was refused entry and deported from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv.]
Labelled as a security threat is an indication of just how scared the Israelis are that the truth about the occupation is shared. I am one person with a blog following of several hundred people, Facebook friends, and 300 Twitter followers and yet I was deemed a security threat. As my friend commented: “I think you can be proud that an oppressive regime sees you (without any weapons) as a security threat to their ability to continue practicing their repression.”
I left Johannesburg on Sunday evening, 16 October, and flew to Istanbul, Turkey. The check-in process was smooth and I was asked no security related questions. I had a six-hour stopover in Istanbul which was also uneventful. I checked-in to the flight to Tel Aviv, Israel and although there was extra security and scrutiny there were no problems. I landed in Tel Aviv at 13:20 on Monday afternoon.
I waited patiently in line at the customs desks for my turn to be processed. A sullen lady called me to the desk, took my passport, and began typing away on her computer. She asked me the normal customs and immigration questions. How long did I plan to stay in Israel? What was the purpose of my visit? Had I been there before? I answered carefully and truthfully. She then asked me what my father’s name was and my grandfather’s name which I provided. Staring at her computer screen she called a gentleman to the desk and handed him my passport. He requested I follow him. He took me to a room in the customs area where several other people were sitting. I waited in the room for about 45 minutes when another lady, not older than 25, called me into her office. Like the first lady, she was tapping away furiously on her computer and didn’t really look at me but rather the screen in front of her. She began asking me questions similar to that of the previous lady. The interrogation lasted for about 45 minutes.