Five leaders on an interfaith delegation to Israel/Palestine were refused permission to board their plane in the United States, in what appears to be an implementation of Israel’s travel ban on supporters of Palestinian rights and Boycott, Divestment Sanctions (BDS).
Five members of an interfaith delegation were prevented from boarding their flight to Israel because of their public criticism of the Israeli government’s policies towards Palestinians. The group of Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders were apparently singled out for their public support of the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) on the state of Israel. Upon arrival at the Lufthansa check-in counter at Dulles International Airport, an airline employee informed the group that the Israeli government had told the airline not to let them board.
The five people prohibited from flying are Rabbi Alissa Wise, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) deputy director, Philadelphia, PA; Alana Krivo-Kaufman, Brooklyn, NY and Noah Habeeb, Virginia, both also of JVP; Rick Ufford Chase, of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, Rockland County, NY; and Shakeel Syed, a national board member with American Muslims for Palestine, Los Angeles, CA.
“Israel denied me the ability to travel there because of my work for justice for Palestinians, even though I’m Jewish and a rabbi,” said Rabbi Alissa Wise. “I’m heartbroken and outraged. This is yet another demonstration that democracy and tolerance in Israel only extends to those who fall in line with its increasingly repressive policies against Palestinians.”
The Israeli Knesset (parliament) passed a bill in March banning entry to those who support boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel until Palestinians have full equal rights. Israel’s BDS ban includes those who have endorsed boycotts of products from Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law and longstanding official U.S. policy. It is believed that this is the first time that the policy has been enforced before people even board their flight. It is also the first time that Israel has denied entry to Jews, including a rabbi, for their political positions. This new political litmus test for entry into the country is an extension of the longstanding practices of racial, religious and ethnic profiling of Palestinian, Arab and Muslim visitors to Israel.
In a scathing opinion written by Judge Derrick K. Watson, the U.S. District Court in Honolulu blocked the Administration’s second travel ban targeting Muslim-majority countries. (New York Times)
“The illogic of the Government’s contentions is palpable. The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed. . . . It would therefore be no paradigmatic leap to conclude that targeting these countries likewise targets Islam.”
Now, the Administration is prohibiting passengers from eight Muslim-majority countries from carrying computers, tablets, and cameras onboard U.S.-bound flights. (The Washington Post, Independent)
“Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and Transportation Security Administration acting administrator Huban Gowadia have determined it is necessary to enhance security procedures for passengers at certain last-point-of-departure airports to the United States.”
This despite the U.K. having tried and abandoned a similar ban in 2006, and the utility of such an approach being seriously questioned being raised by security experts. (Independent, The Guardian)
“From a technological perspective, nothing has changed between the last dozen years and today. That is, there are no new technological breakthroughs that make this threat any more serious today. And there is certainly nothing technological that would limit this newfound threat to a handful of Middle Eastern airlines.”
“What appears to be new is this latest overreaction — it appears to be a Muslim ban by a thousand cuts.”
There is no peace process, nor is there a real discussion over one state or two states. Even discussions on whether Israel is an apartheid state have become intellectual fodder for Jews and leftists. The reality is one that resembles a prison, and the prisoners will continue to be held by force . . . .
The Knesset passed a law Monday night denying entry visas or residency rights to foreign nationals who call for boycotts against Israel or the settlements. The law won’t have much of an effect on entry into Israel proper, but rather will mostly affect those trying to enter the West Bank — a solid reminder that the ban is yet another example of the way Israel holds Palestinians prisoners. After all, one can assume that most people who enter the Palestinian territories oppose the settlements or support some version of the boycott.
Because Israel controls every point of entry into areas under Palestinian control in the West Bank, Palestinians cannot leave (without a permit) or come back (without a permit). With the passage of the law, they are no longer allowed to have visitors. In other words: they are prisoners, and these restrictions are just the tip of the iceberg.
In spite of our different views, we stand in strong opposition to the new law. It will be bad for Israel, bad for the cause of democracy at this fragile moment, and bad for the principles of free speech and thought on which our scholarship is based.
We, the undersigned scholars of Jewish studies, write to express our dismay over the bill passed on March 6 by the Israeli Knesset that would bar entry to any foreigner who supports the BDS movement or supports boycotting settlements or goods produced in the occupied territories. We are researchers with a wide range of professional, social, and personal ties to Israel and a diverse array of ideological positions. But we are unified in our belief that this law represents a further blow to the democratic foundations of Israel, continuing the process of erosion wrought by a recent series of bills including the Regulation Law, the Suspension of MKs Law, and the NGO Law, as well as the earlier Boycott Law. This is unacceptable. Continue reading “172 Scholars Decry Israel’s Travel Ban”
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.
On Monday, the Knesset passed a law denying entry to any person “who knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel” or any territory “under Israeli control,” which includes settlements in the West Bank. I’m one of those people.
Now, it seems, the Knesset wants me to choose. Either stop visiting Israel or stop opposing the occupation. In a variety of ways, that’s the deal Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been offering American Jews for close to a decade now. Embrace Israel at the cost of your principles or embrace your principles at the cost of Israel.
I have a theory about American Jewish kids and Israel. I’m trying it out on my own children.
My theory boils down to “Love first, truth later.” When my kids near adulthood, I’ll encourage them to visit the West Bank. I’ll encourage them to see for themselves what it means to hold millions of people as noncitizens, under military law, without free movement or due process. I’ll encourage them to read real histories of Israel’s war of independence, histories that explode the myth that most Palestinian refugees left their homes willingly. I’ll encourage them to consume as much Palestinian poetry, literature, journalism and film as possible. I want them to see how Israel looks from the other side.
But not too early. My fear is that if they encounter harsh truths at too young an age, it will drive them away. They’ll grow to hate Israel, or wash their hands of it. I’ve seen that happen a lot.
“I’m very disappointed that Israel cannot deal with criticism in a democratic manner, and instead has to ban people who do not agree with the current government’s policy, Zionists, friends of Israel, people who feel deeply connected to the country.” — David Biale, Professor of Jewish History, U.C. Davis
Dozens of prominent Jewish scholars worry they won’t be able to visit Israel anymore, citing a new law entitling the government to deny entry to supporters of boycotts against the country or its settlements in occupied territory. Meanwhile, only days after the passing of the new law, more than 100 Jewish studies scholars have signed a letter in which they threaten to refrain from visiting Israel in protest.
“Among us are those who oppose the BDS movement, those who oppose BDS but support a settlement boycott, and those who support BDS,” says the petition that has come to the attention of Haaretz, although it has not yet been published.
“In spite of our different views, we stand in strong opposition to the new law. It will be bad for Israel, bad for the cause of democracy at this fragile moment, and bad for the principles of free speech and thought on which our scholarship is based. We hope that the Israeli judiciary will overturn the new law and assure us that our political speech will not prevent us from continuing our rich scholarly interactions with Israeli colleagues in the field of Jewish studies. Should the law stand, we may no longer be permitted — nor permit ourselves — to enter the State of Israel.”
A month after being detain while returning to the U.S., the son of “The Greatest” was detained again before boarding a domestic flight in Washington, D.C.
By Marissa Payne and Des Bieler / The Washington Post
March 10, 2017
“We must step into the ring and fight this thing and keep fighting it until it’s done.” — Khalilah Camacho-Ali, wife of the late Muhammad Ali
A month after Muhammad Ali’s son and his mother, Ali’s second wife Khalilah Camacho-Ali, were detained in a Florida airport allegedly for their “Arabic-sounding names,” he says he was held up again, this time at Reagan National Airport on Friday. He and his mother had come to Washington to lobby to end racial profiling, and he was trying to board a flight back to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
A lawyer for Ali, Chris Mancini, said that as the son of the former heavyweight champion was trying to board a Jet Blue flight, he was detained by Department of Homeland Security officials for about 20 to 25 minutes. According to comments Mancini made to the New York Daily News, they rejected his identification and repeatedly asked where he was from, before allowing the 44-year-old to board after he produced his U.S. passport.
“None of this was happening Wednesday,” Mancini said of the Alis’ trip to D.C. in remarks to the Associated Press. “Going to Washington obviously opened up a can of worms at DHS.”
With this new law, the message to young Jews, and the rest of the world is no longer: “Come, see for yourself, let’s have a discussion — even an argument — in which I try to change your views. We know it’s complicated, but let’s not end our relationship.”
Instead, [the message] is: “Stay away. If you don’t agree with us, there is no place for you here.”
At first glance, Israel’s sweeping travel ban passed by the Knesset on Monday night essentially changes nothing. The authorities at Israel’s borders and airports already have complete discretion to keep anyone out, and numerous prospective visitors have been blacklisted and turned away because they are believed to be hostile to Israel.
They don’t need this law, which spells out support of boycotting of any Israeli institution or any area under its control as grounds to block their entrance as visitor.
But, actually, it changes everything. The statement it makes and the message it sends — that those who so deeply object to the occupation that they choose not to buy settlement products — are no longer welcome to visit, see and experience their country is a drastic shift in Israel’s relationship with the outside world.
“We continue to face border patrol’s noncompliance and chaos at airports around the country,” said Marielena Hincapie, director of the National Immigration Law Center. Officials, she said, were “Kafkaesque” in their confused responses, adding that Trump’s order “has already caused irrevocable harm, it has already caused chaos.”
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents defied the orders of federal judges regarding Donald Trump’s travel bans on Sunday, according to members of Congress and attorneys who rallied protests around the country in support of detained refugees and travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries.
On Sunday afternoon, four Democratic members of the House of Representatives arrived at Dulles airport in Virginia on word that people had been detained and denied access to lawyers.
“We have a constitutional crisis today,” representative Don Beyer wrote on Twitter. “Four members of Congress asked CBP officials to enforce a federal court order and were turned away.”