JERUSALEM (JTA) – Ex-U.S. Cabinet member Donna Shalala, who is of Lebanese descent, reportedly was held for interrogation at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport.
Shalala, the health and human services department secretary in the Clinton administration, said she was detained at the Tel Aviv-area airport in July for three hours for interrogation and a luggage check. She had been visiting Israel as part of the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange, and remained in the country for two days after the trip to meet with a group trying to launch a medical school there.
Shalala, who was born in the United States to parents originally from Lebanon, is now the president of the University of Miami. The university reportedly is collaborating with the new medical school, which will be under the auspices of Bar Ilan University.
AJC reportedly had left word at the airport that Shalala was a VIP.
"While I was inconvenienced, Israel’s security and the security of travelers is far more important," Shalala said in a statement issued after returning to the United States. "I have been going in and out of Israel for many years and expect to visit again."