report from Palestine, June 7, 2003

Steve was in a Tel Aviv court today - as an observer. The indented email text below is complete as it was received.

Hi folks,

I'm in Haifa at the apartment of parents of a member
of JATO. We were in Tel Aviv today to observe a court
hearing with broad implications for ISM. Our report
of the hearing is below.

(A little background: anyone perceived by Israeli
border authorities to be a peace activist of any sort
is routinely turned away. We believe that thousands
have been turned away since the spring of 2002, most
of them undoubtedly tourists believed erroneously by
the border authorities to be activists. Since the
murder of Rachel Corrie by an Israeli soldier in
March of 2003 and its attendant bad publicity
for the state of Israel, the authorities have
been particularly on the lookout for ISM activists.)


Today, July 7, 2003, the District Court in Tel Aviv
held a hearing on Patrick Connor's complaint against
the Israeli Ministry of the Interior for refusing him
entry into Israel this past March. The Israeli
attorneys representing Patrick received the Ministry's
brief only today, and got an adjournment to July 22
for a decision, so that they could respond to the
brief. The chief of the Shabak (Israel's General
Security Service) was in the courtroom, and the
Ministry's lawyer kept looking back at him, apparently
for guidance.

Here is our translation of the relevant page of the
Ministry's brief. We can't vouch that the translation
is 100% accurate, but we did our best. It starts at
item #12; as far as we know, items 1-11 are just

The Position of the Ministry of the Interior

12. As was told to the plaintiff, the position of
the Ministry of the Interior is that his entry into
Israel is not permitted due to a security concern and
because of a lack of proper authorization.

13. It is the position of the Ministry of the
Interior that the plaintiff should not be allowed to
enter Israel on the basis of the recommendation of
security sources.

14. Security sources are in possession of information
according to which the plaintiff is a senior activist
in the organization ISM.

15. This organization has as its goal to hamper the
activities of the security forces in the territories
and to impede their work in preventing terrorism via
altercations with the IDF [Israel Defense Forces]
soldiers, staying in the houses of suicide terrorists
to prevent their destruction, transporting Palestinians
among various areas during periods of closure, and all
that proceeds from this.

16. The activities of members of the organization, as
described above, interfere with the security
activities of the IDF and sometimes even endanger the
well-being of the IDF soldiers.

17. In the framework of activism in the organization
the plaintiff initiated, organized, and took part in
demonstrations in the territories of Judea and Samaria
against the activities of the security forces during
the period November 2002 - January 2003.

18. From past experience with activists with this
organization, it comes up that some of these activists
tend to deceive the border authorities on entrance to
Israel and do not convey the true purpose of their
arrival in Israel.

19. As was told to the plaintiff in the letter from
the legal office (that was attached to the original
complaint), the entrance of the plaintiff in March
2003 was denied also because he did not have proper
authorization. In order to serve various
organizations as the plaintiff requested (some for pay
and some on a voluntary basis) he must equip himself
with the proper authorization of Type B1 or Type B,
and not suffice with a tourist authorization of Type
B2. The plaintiff is aware of this, and he himself
acknowledges that in the past he has been in Israel
with authorization of Type B1.

I expect to hear about another, much uglier reality in future reports. This one is an account of the almost-civilized side of the policies produced by Israeli insecurity. It seems that Israel is at least giving a hearing to the people who complain about being kept from entering the country, although the state may really only be going through the motions.

I think we can say that the U.S. is being a lot less generous with its own prejudices and insecurity.

Still, notice that on Israel's own terms, item #15 admits that Connor, as a member of the ISM, is to be kept out because he might end up "staying in the houses of suicide terrorists to prevent their destruction, transporting Palestinians among various areas during periods of closure." This is not a nice picture of the Israeli state's dominion in an illegally-occupied territory.

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Published on July 7, 2003 7:37 PM.

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