Israel is probably one of the most fortressed countries in the world. I do not mean the wall; its purpose is not security but land theft. I mean the security guards at the entrance of banks, supermarkets, cafes, etc etc etc, and I mean the deportations—a kind of psychological fortress against Israel’s critics.
The first item, in which Ann relates her sad experience, is one too often repeated. But Ann is not an Israeli citizen. That does not make her deportation right or just. The reason that I mention the fact is because the 2nd case is with respect to an Israeli citizen.
There is now a bill awaiting Knesset ratification to turn it into a law that will allow deportation of Israeli citizens—ones not sufficiently loyal. But if the press release below is correct, then Israel seems ready to apply the practice prior to the law allowing it. True, Israel has deported or not allowed entry to numerous Jews. But to the best of my knowledge it has yet to deport a Jewish Israeli citizen. In Dror Feiler’s case, the citizen does not reside in Israel, but nevertheless, if tomorrow he will not be allowed into Israel, he will be the first Israeli citizen to have been deported. I wonder if this will become a status symbol eventually. Israel will be able to rid itself of all its critics, which, however, include some of its top minds and academics.
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 [email protected] +44 (0) 758 3253 118
The state said that Marti and Chappell belong to the International Solidarity Movement, an organization “that supports an ideology that is anti-Zionist, pro-Palestinian and universally revolutionary.” Haaretz 24/03/10
Equality or nothing. — Edward Said
Subject: Ship to Gaza-Sweden – Press release 6 November, 2010 – We are coming
Israel tries to prevent Ship to Gaza from seeking justice in Israel
The Israeli Embassy in Stockholm issued a press release on Friday, 5 November, stating that Israel will prevent Ship to Gaza spokesperson Dror Feiler and member of Parliament Mehmet Kaplan from going to Tel Aviv to file a legal complaint against the Israeli government and the Defense Ministry. The stated reason for preventing Feiler and Kaplan’s entry is that “any person who tries to enter Israel illegally will be denied entry into Israel for a period of ten years.”
That is a curious statement, considering that none of the passengers aboard Ship to Gaza/Freedom Flotilla had attempted to enter Israel. Nor did they have any such intention. Quite the contrary: They were headed for Gaza when they were boarded, arrested and taken to Israel against their will. Nine people were killed and about 30 were seriously wounded during the attack. Vessels, cargo and personal property were all confiscated and, in most cases, have still not been returned.
The complaint that Feiler and Kaplan intend to file with the Tel Aviv police department and the district attorney—on behalf of all Swedish passengers—is based on the incidents connected with the boarding. The charges are: armed robbery and/or larceny, kidnapping, unlawful deprivation of freedom and aggravated assault.
Ship to Gaza-Sweden expects that Israel is a constitutional state which will allow people— who believe, on good grounds, they have been the victims of crimes committed by state authorities—to file a complaint with the police and prosecutors so that alleged crimes can be investigated. The Swedish passengers are represented by the reputable Israeli attorney, Gaby Lasky. Feiler and Kaplan will travel to Israel as planned on Sunday, in the hopes that justice will be allowed to be served.
Attorney Gaby Lasky
Phone: +972 (0)3-6243215
Mobile: +972 (0)54-4418988
Member of Parliament Mehmet Kaplan: +46 706231234
Dror Feiler, mobile in Israel: +972 544 285577
Ship to Gaza-Sweden www.shiptogaza.se
Dror Feiler: +46 702855777
Ann Ighe: +46 709740739
Mikael Löfgren: +46 707983643 [email protected]
Terrorist Organizations? Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Ansar al-Islam, Basque Fatherland and Liberty, ETA, Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army, HAMAS, The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hizballah, Party of God, Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK, KADEK, Lashkar-e Tayyiba, Lashkar i Jhangvi, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, National Liberation Army, ELN, Palestine Liberation Front, PLF, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, PFLP, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, Revolutionary Nuclei, ELA, Revolutionary Organization 17 November, Revolutionary People’s Liberation Army/Front, DHKP/C, Shining Path, Sendero Luminoso, SL.
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November 3, 2010
Feiler. ‘In Sweden they don’t understand this logic’ Photo: Bea Feiler
Israeli flotilla participant wants saxophone back
Artist Dror Feiler demands confiscated items be returned. ‘Why does Israel need my saxophone?’
Israeli artist Dror Feiler will return to Israel this Sunday with Swedish Green Party member Mehmet Kaplan, in order to submit a complaint and a class action for abduction, illegal arrest, physical and emotional abuse and armed theft.
Feiler, who has lived for many years in Sweden, was among the Swedish delegation on the ship that left Greece for Gaza last May, intending to break Israel’s siege on the Gaza Strip. Soldiers in the Navy’s Shayetet 13 took over the three vessels that took part in the flotilla.
Among the personal items confiscated from Feiler, he says, were a saxophone and video cameras used to document a display he created on the decks of the ship from raw materials and foodstuffs, which appear on the list of items Israel does not allow into the Strip.
“The display’s materials, purchased in Athens, included spices such as cumin, jam, and all sorts of things that for some absurd reason were on the IDF list,” Feiler says. “I filmed the display with three cameras and the material was to be used in a performance work in Sweden. Two of the cameras were confiscated by the army and I hope I can get them back so I can continue my work.”
According to Feiler, even if he doesn’t hear of the reason for the confiscation of his belongings, he can understand why telephones and cameras were taken. However, he doesn’t understand why his saxophone was taken – and he’s coming to Israel determined to get it back.
“Why does Israel need my saxophone?” he wonders. “I really want it back. A saxophone is not a weapon, and I find it hard to understand how someone could think to confiscate a musical instrument.”
Feiler recalls the well-known Swedish author Henning Mankell who was on the deck of the ship. Among the confiscated items was Mankell’s manuscript for a TV series on his father-in-law, the famous director Ingmar Bergman.
“What does Israel gain by holding this manuscript?” Feiler asks. “Why wasn’t it returned? It’s hard to avoid the thought that the Israeli government thinks it can do whatever it wants and the world will accept it quietly. In Sweden they don’t understand this logic; it’s the behavior of animals and someone will have to pay.”
‘I’m not against Israel’
Feiler is aware that the announcement of his arrival is liable to prevent his entry into Israel, but he hopes this won’t happen.
“Preventing my entry wouldn’t be logical, but I am aware that it’s hard to count on the logic of Israeli authorities, so there is certainly a fear that they won’t let me enter,” he says. “It would be strange. After all, I was born in Israel, my mother lives in Israel and I have friends and family there. It’s my right to enter and explain to anyone who wants to hear what the aim of the flotilla was and why I work overtime against the policies of the Israeli government.”
“I emphasize that my activities are not against Israel or its residents,” he continues. “On the contrary, they stem from love and the desire to help and find a solution. I want Israel to continue to exist, and in my opinion the biggest threats to its existence are not Iran, Hezbollah or the Palestinians, but the Israeli government whose policies are leading to destruction. If the policies don’t change, the future of Israel will be like that of the Crusader kingdoms that disappeared.”
If he succeeds in regaining his saxophone, Feiler plans to finish off his visit with a festive concert, a series of events held by Jenin’s Freedom Theater as part of the campaign to break the Gaza siege.
“I very much want to visit the theater in Jenin,” says Feiler, who is listed as a member of the management and is one of the theater’s founders. “I feel responsibility towards this institution, which brings cultural activities to the (refugee) camp for the sake of peace and understanding. Art is a bridge between cultures and people.”