Palestinian-American author deported upon arrival at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Palestinian-American writer, Susan Abulhawa, was detained at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport and ordered deported.

Abulhawa, author of the novel “Mornings in Jenin,” arrived in Israel on Nov. 1 to attend the Kalimat Palestinian Literature Festival, which is being held over this week in Jerusalem, Haifa and around the West Bank.

She was returned to the United States on Friday, after appealing the order with the help of a British attorney. The festival is co-sponsored by the British Council.

Israel’s Immigration Authority told local media that Abulhawa was not refused reentry due to any involvement in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, as in some high-profile cases lately.

Instead, she was refused entry over a 2015 incident in which she refused to answer questions by security personnel when she attempted to cross into Israel from Jordan. According to the Immigration Authority, she was told then that the next time she planned to visit Israel she would have to coordinate her entry in advance, which she did not do.

Abulhawa disagreed with that characterization in a post on Facebook, which she read remotely to the Kalimat Palestinian Literature Festival.

She said in her post that she answered all the questions that she was asked to the best of her ability at the border in 2015 in a civil manner. She only became uncivil when she was denied entry.

“What I said in 2015 to my interrogators, and which was also reported in Haaretz at the time, is that they should be the ones to leave, not me; that I am a daughter of this land and nothing will change that; that my own direct history is steeped in the land and there’s no way they can extricate it; that as much as they invoke Zionist mythological fairy tales, they can never claim such personal familial lineage, much as they wish they could.”

She also wrote in her statement: “It pains me that we can meet anywhere in the world except in Palestine, the place to which we belong, from whence our stories emerge and where all our turns eventually lead. We cannot meet on soil that has been fertilized for millennia by the bodies of our ancestors and watered by the tears and blood of Palestine’s sons and daughters who daily fight for her,” she also wrote.

Her deportation comes not long after the detention for two weeks of American college student Lara Alqasem, who has Palestinian roots, despite her having a valid visa. She was detained at Ben Gurion Airport while appealing a decision to let her enter and study at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Alqasem eventually was let into the country after the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in her favor.

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