People love to write hate-articles about Israeli border security. I love to read their hate-articles because it means that my country is taking care of me.
I am very sorry, George Khoury, that you had to suffer the indignity of being rejected at Ben Gurion Airport and, if your seemingly verbatim script of what transpired between you and the security agent (who you take to be a Shin Bet agent and why wouldn’t you, it sounds so grand to be interviewed by none other than the Shin Bet — a lowly airport security agent isn’t good enough for you) is true, then I do apologize for her rudeness.
On the other hand, I don’t know how you remember the conversation so well. When I was studying psychotherapy, I had to produce verbatim scripts of therapy sessions to discuss in supervision and I’ll be damned if I could remember more than a few minutes of a session I had just come out of and I was not emotionally distraught during the session as you obviously were during your ordeal (unless you were not distraught and this was a planned trip to provide food for anti-Israel propaganda — no? Then forgive me for assuming). Did you ask for pen and paper immediately after your questioning so that not a single word would be lost to the vagaries of memory?
It seems, George — can I call you George? — that you are joining a growing tradition of Americans of “Palestinian” origin who seek to enter Israel or the PA and are denied passage through the golden gates of either Ben Gurion Airport or Allenby Bridge from Jordan. In fact, mondoweiss (that lovely impartial Web-based self-declared “war of ideas in the Middle East” magazine) must have provided a template for how to file such stories.
I only say this because of other articles I have read there that follow the same structure: something about the writer being an upstanding and respectable professional, followed by the reason for the trip, a script of the encounter with border security, in which the security agent is particularly rude and disrespectful, the awful experience waiting for transportation out of the country, something about the youth of the security agents (as if the age of trained security agents has anything to do with anything), and finally a message about how awful Israelis are, how racist, etc etc etc.
For example, in 2013, “Palestinian”-American student Yara Karmalawy was denied entry even though she was part of a 30-member group of students on an impressive Olive Tree Initiative tour. Yara — can I call you, Yara? — you write that you knew there would be trouble for you at the border because of your “Palestinian” parentage. My question is whether or not you informed the trip organizers of your concerns, something that would have allowed them to make enquiries with the Israeli embassy before setting out, thereby potentially avoiding the whole debacle, or if someone put you up to joining the group simply in order to have something spicy to write up on mondoweiss.
And just yesterday, one day after your article appeared, George, we have another submission on the same topic, following the very same formula described above: Leading American writer Susan Abulhawa is denied entry to Palestine. I’m so sorry, Susan — I can call you, Susan, can’t I? — but did you really think that you would slide effortlessly into this country because all you say you want to do is build playgrounds in the PA? You did forget to mention in your article that bit about you being a signatory to the BDS movement and a speaker for Al Awda, the coalition promoting the right of return for Arab refugees to Israel (ah, yes, pardon me, you call it Palestine, just like the Roman conquerors before you).
You certainly are an impressive woman, Susan, having completed med school in the USA after having been abandoned by your divorced parents, shipped off to your American uncle, then passed among family members in Kuwait, Jordan and Jerusalem only to end up finally a foster child in the USA. But hey! Blame Israel for your parents’ divorce and your abandonment! That’s okay. I understand. If only “Palestine” will emerge from the ashes of defeat and overtake Israel, then you will not feel the sting of your parents’ marital failure and the fact that they did not raise you themselves.
A final example: Julia Carmel, a Jewish woman, writes about being denied entry at Allenby Bridge last summer, a mere 5 days into the war against Hamas. Her report follows the same formula as above, with ample quotes supposedly of actual conversations with security agents. Julia — it’s okay if I call you Julia, right? — you disingenuously say you were headed for a few-weeks-long Arabic languages course in the PA. But toward the end of the article, you tell us the truth: “I had looked forward to reporting from the West Bank, hoping to support the vital work of the AIC in Bethlehem. All of these plans were arbitrarily shattered by the force that brutally controls the lives of Palestinians.” Don’t you think this had something to do with denying you entry into Israel, poor Julia?
In fact, just a few months age, you wrote another article in which you proudly announced that you were among 9 Jewish activists arrested in the US for civil disobedience (probably just a week or so after returning from your traumatic experience at the Israeli border last summer) while participating in a demonstration against Israel’s actions in Gaza in which you all refused to leave the lobby of the President’s Conference building.
I submit that it is likely that in the case regarding George Khoury, when we have more information we will find that the refusal to admit him to Israel was not arbitrary.
To tell you the truth, I would rather we err on the side of paranoid caution and deny entry to hundreds of innocents who should have been admitted rather than admit one more of the likes of the British citizens of Pakistani origin, who entered Israel in 2003 supposedly as tourists: one of them blew up Mike’s Place and the other somehow drowned in the Mediterranean when running away after his suicide belt did not detonate.
Dear reader: you tell me who you would rather apologize to: George Khoury, Yara Karmalawy, Susan Abulhawa, Julia Carmel . . . or the families of dead and maimed victims of a terrorist who crawled through the cracks?
Furthermore, can we really assume these people are as naïve as they seem to make themselves out to be? Knowing that Israel is in constant conflict with the PA, would it not seem logical that the non-Jew with roots in the PA or pre-state Israeli territories and the Jew who supports anti-Israel activity verify, before buying their tickets, the kind of reception that will await them at the border? I know that I, an Israeli-Canadian dual citizen with a Canadian passport issued in Israel, would not think of landing in Syria, Pakistan, Libya, Malaysia, Kuwait, Iraq or other country without diplomatic relations with Israel, without making sure I would be let in on my Canadian document. But, then, nobody is interested in reading about countries that discriminate against Israelis/Jews, are they?