Why might Israel deport two young American women who landed at Ben Gurion Airport? (UPDATED with screen shot of Linked-In page)The virulently anti-Israel Mondoweiss blog publishes an account from two young Arab women who were denied entry into Israel. There's a lot missing.
The account was written by Najwa Doughman and Sasha Al-Sarabi, two University of Virginia graduates from the New York City area, who are American citizens of Arab (I assume 'Palestinian,' although they don't say that) extraction. The account is about as
“Do you feel more Arab or more American?” she asked. I had answered the ten previous questions very calmly, but with this question I looked back at the security official confused and irritated. She couldn’t have been much older than me—her business attire and stern facial expressions did not mask her youth.Read the whole thing. Read the comments too - they're downright hostile to Israel. Look at the pictures of Najwa and Sasha. They look like they'd be stoned in Tehran or Gaza City. Perhaps they could take some fashion lessons from Catherine Ashton.
“I don’t know, I feel both. Why? Does this affect my ability to get in?”
She ignored my question. “Surely you must feel a little more Arab, you’ve lived in many Middle Eastern countries.”
I did not see the correlation. I have never felt the need to choose. “Yes I have but I also lived in the US for the past seven years, and was born there, so I feel both.” My response did nothing to convince her.
“Hm. Will you go to Al-Aqsa?”
“Will you go to Jewish sites as well?”
“Yes, why not? We want to see everything.”
“But you have been here two times already. Why are you coming now for the third time? You can go to Venezuela, to Mexico, to Canada. It is much closer to New York, and much less expensive!”
I realized the conversation was going nowhere. “Right, but I wanted to come back here again. Don’t you have tourists who come back more than once?”
“I’m asking the questions here,” she replied disgruntled.
“Okay, we are going to do something very interesting now!” Her face transformed from a harsh stare to a slight smirk. She proceeded to type “www.gmail.com” on her computer and then turned the keyboard toward me. “Log in,” she demanded.
“What? Really?” I was shocked.
I typed in my username and password in complete disbelief. She began her invasive search: “Israel,” “Palestine,” “West Bank,” “International Solidarity Movement.”
She sifted through my inbox, reading every single email with those keywords. She read sentences out loud to her colleague, sarcastically reenacting and mocking old Google Chat conversations between Sasha and me about our future trip to Jerusalem. I squirmed in my seat.
The Israeli authorities have a notorious reputation for denying entry to Palestinians of all citizenships, and I had received all sorts of advice, solicited and unsolicited, on how to cope with the problem. The security officer opened an email from a friend living in Jerusalem who had advised me to remove myself from internet searches. “They are heavy on googling names at the airport recently,” he had written. “See if you can remove yourselves, not crucial but helpful.”
The security guard found this especially hilarious. With a laugh, she called her blonde colleague over and reread the sentence mockingly. “You can tell your friend, not only do we google you, we read your emails, too!”
So why did Israel deny these two young New York professionals entry into the country? Here's what they're not telling you:
First, they don't discuss what those gmail searches produced but I'd bet there were a whole bunch of hits from the "International Solidarity Movement" search. I don't have to tell you all who the ISM is.
Second, a look at Najwa and Sasha's linked-in pages produces some interesting information (Thanks to Stephen L for the inspiration). Najwa worked for UNRWA in Tripoli, Lebanon [corrected, CiJ] from January 2010 through January 2011. I assume that was with a different passport than the one used in her two previous trips to Israel. You can't enter Lebanon with an Israeli stamp in your passport. At the University of Virginia, Najwa was also the President of 'Students for Peace and Justice in Palestine' (sometimes known as 'Students for Justice in Palestine').
'Students for Justice in Palestine' has an 'impressive' record.
The SJP fomented new radicalism about the Palestinian-Israel conflict and gave a new energy and visibility to Palestinian propaganda. Even the progressive Forward quoted activists who claimed that the SJP moved “far beyond legitimate criticism of the Israeli government and its policies into complete delegitimization of the Jewish state.”Obviously, there's enough there to make Najwa an undesirable from Israel's perspective.
The SJP equates Israel’s treatment of Palestinians with apartheid South Africa and calls for divestment from Israel and an end to the ‘occupation.’ It organizes demonstrations and political theater to dramatize the plight of the Palestinians whom it sees only as innocent victims. SJP chapters have set up mock checkpoints, mock “concentration camps” with barbed wire to demonstrate how Palestinians suffer, mock “apartheid walls” and even fake re-enactments of IDF soldiers beating up pregnant Palestinian women. Some chapters even organize Deir Yassin remembrance day to mark what Palestinians have claimed was a massacre of Palestinians in 1948. In 2002, the Berkeley SJP staged this event on Holocaust Remembrance Day and directly competed with the commemoration Jewish students had organized.
SJP also agitates to prevent pro-Israel speakers from visiting their campuses. The De Paul University SJP captured media attention in April 2005 because it protested against a pro-Israel professor who had argued with SJP members at their campus table. The University deferred to SJP and fired the professor, Thomas Klocek. He has brought a legal suit against the school.
SJP chapters are only loosely affiliated with one another, and some are more radical than others, but as a whole, the group will not even condemn terrorism.
There's not quite as much out there on Sasha, but she does list 'Students for Peace and Justice in Palestine' among her UVa activities, and the fact that she was traveling with Najwa undoubtedly opened some eyes.
I want to go back to the very biased account for a minute. Here's how they describe their call from the American embassy.
At 6:15, a guard came and told us that the US embassy was phoning for us. My parents had called them from Virginia after our two-minute conversation to inform them of what was happening. Sasha answered the phone. “Oh, thank God, we’ve been trying to get in touch with you! This is Sasha. We’ve been through a lot the past few hours.”That's the bottom line. Every country - including Israel - has the right to control who enters. If you want to come here, you have to play by our rules. And if the authorities suspect you're here to help a radical terror group, you won't be allowed in. Just like the US has its 'no fly' lists and insists on having name, rank and serial number on every arrival in advance, Israel will bar anyone it believes is affiliated or assisting a 'Palestinian' or Islamist terror group. And Lebanon, Syria and a whole bunch of other Arab countries will bar anyone with an Israeli stamp on their passport. Deal with it and stop whining.
“As I told your friend’s parents yesterday, there is really nothing we can do. I’m just glad that you’re going to be able to get on the next flight.” the woman said dispassionately.
“This is ridiculous. They went through my friend’s email. Is that legal?”
“Well, they can do whatever they want. There is nothing we can do. They are their own country, and they make their own rules.”
“If only you could see the conditions we are in. I just wish you could come and smell the room.”
“Oh, I’m really sorry, but at least you’ll be getting on the next flight,” her voice was annoyingly monotonous.
UPDATE 11:56 PM
Najwa has removed her Linked-In profile, which I linked above.
You can find the Google cache version here (and yes, Najwa, there's a screen cap of it available if you'd like me to post it). Thanks to David Appletree via Twitter.
UPDATE TUESDAY 10:35 AM
I understand that the Google cache version of Najwa Doughman's Linked-In profile has been removed. I am posting the screen cap as a ScribD embed below (Hat Tip: David A).
Najwa Doughman Linked-In Screen Cap