WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. State Department confirmed that Israel arrested an American citizen, reportedly during a Nakba Day protest.
A State Department statement on Tuesday in response to a query from a journalist during the daily briefing the day before only would confirm that Israeli authorities had arrested a U.S. citizen.
"Privacy constraints preclude us from providing additional information about this individual’s case at this time," the statement said.
A reporter in the briefing the day before identified the arrested man as "Qumsiyeh" and said he was a Palestinian-American academic arrested over the weekend during protests in the West Bank.
Pro-Palestinian blogs said Mazin Qumsiyeh was a political scientist who was arrested during a nonviolent march in al-Walaja, a village near Bethlehem, on Sunday.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, Qumsiyeh "has a long record of propagating a distinctly biased view of Israel through his speaking engagements and writings." ADL also said that he "often equates Israel interchangeably with apartheid South Africa and Nazi Germany, and his arguments frequently focus on ‘Zionist’ control of American foreign policy." The organization said he served on the genetics faculty of Duke and Yale universities.
Demonstrations were held Saturday and Sunday throughout the West Bank, Israel, Gaza and on Israel’s borders marking Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948. As many as 14 people were killed Sunday trying to breach Israel’s borders.
Arabs regard the resultant exodus of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians as a "nakba," or catastrophe.