US bars entry to researcher who exposes Israeli rights abuses

Forensic Architecture’s investigation into the 2014 beating of a Palestinian in Hebron employs virtual modeling and cross-referenced testimony.

Maureen Clare Murphy writes in Electronic Intifida, 21 February 2020:

The US has effectively denied entry to Eyal Weizman, founder of the research group Forensic Architecture.

Forensic Architecture, based in the UK, uses groundbreaking methodologies such as digital forensics and spatial analysis to expose human rights abuses. The group has published several investigations concerning Israeli violations against Palestinians.

Weizman, who holds Israeli and British passports, was due to travel to the US for Forensic Architecture’s first major survey in the country at Miami Dade College’s Museum of Art and Design. The exhibition, titled Forensic Architecture: True to Scale, opened on Thursday and runs through late September.

That exhibition includes new findings concerning the brutal beating of Faisal al-Natsheh in the West Bank city of Hebron in 2014. The investigation relies on a virtual reality model of the site of the assault and cross-referenced testimony from Dean Issacharoff, the soldier who beat al-Natsheh, as well as testimony from two witnesses.

Weizman had also intended to use his trip to the US to advance an investigation into a Florida detention center where migrant children are held in cruel conditions.

Two days before his scheduled departure, US authorities informed Weizman by email that his right to travel to the country under a visa waiver program had been revoked because an algorithm had identified a security threat.

When Weizman visited the US embassy in London to reapply for a visa, an official there asked him to provide detailed information about his travel over the past 15 years. He was also asked to name any of his contacts that could have triggered the algorithm, Weizman told media.

Weizman said that he refused to provide further information to the embassy because doing so “would be putting people at risk by reporting their names.”

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