UK-based academic denied entry to Israel/Palestine

November 6, 2010
Richard Kuper

bengurion-airportThe Right to Enter Campaign‘s newsletter regularly carries reports of the difficulties and/or impossibilities of entering Palestine.

Postscript 7 November: Haaretz today carries a story Israel denies entry to Sweden MP and ex-Israeli who sailed on Gaza flotilla. MP Mehmet Kaplan and artist Dror Feiler planned to lodge a complaint against the IDF for violence, armed robbery, obstruction of freedom and kidnapping.

Apparently anyone who sailed on the flotilla is banned from entry to Israel for 10 years…

Dear friends and colleagues,

As some of you know, I traveled to Palestine/ Israel last Wednesday morning in order to attend a conference. Beforehand I contacted the Israeli Ministry of Interior and obtained a document stating that there was no legal basis to deny me entry into Israel. In addition, my travel companion was a senior academic from SOAS (keynote speaker to the conference) who taught at Tel Aviv University for years. Despite this, however, I was taken aside at Ben Gurion airport passport control and was denied entry.

The official reason I was denied entry is because I was aboard of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and when I showed them the Israeli document they simply replied: ‘We don’t care, we [the military] make the decisions here’. The border control security officials searched me and treated me polite but did not even go through the motions of a democracy. No lawyer, no legal procedures, no embassy and no phone call. Luckily, the security guard let me keep my cell phone for about 20 minutes and I was able to contact my family and speak to the professor who was waiting for me at customs.

Several phone calls of my Israeli friends to the airport authorities couldn’t change their decision and at 11pm I was brought to the Ben Gurion detention center. They searched me again, took away all my personal belongings and I spend the night in a cell. At 7am a security border police van brought me directly to a waiting British Airline flight back to London. They confiscated my luggage but the airline says my suitcase will be delivered to my house before 9 o’clock tonight. My passport now holds an official ‘denied entry into Israel’ stamp.

This deportation, not supported by any legal or security arguments, severely affects my career as I will not be able to conduct fieldwork research in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories anymore. In addition, I am very disappointed that I won’t be able to visit my Palestinian and Israeli friends. Sadly, it also confirms the main research conclusion from my PhD thesis:

‘[…] the “real” conflict in the Middle East is not between Arabs and Jews or even between Palestinians and Israelis, but rather between those who uphold to Zionist exceptionalism and those who believe that Human Rights should apply to all people regardless of race, religion or ethnicity’

For any questions or advice I can be contacted at the address below.

Anne de Jong PhD Research & RA/GTA
Department of Anthropology
School of Oriental and African Studies
Thornhaugh St, Russell Sq London +44 (0) 758 3253 118

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