From: hannah safran
Subject: Humiliation of major Israeli-Palestinian scholar at Ben Gurion airport
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2006
Dear friends, The following messages is a chilling reminder of what does it mean to live in a Jewish state. It is urgent that we do all we can to let the Israeli authorities know that their racist policies are not done in our name. As you can see being an "israeli citizen" does not protect you from abuse at the airport if you happen (God forbid) not to be Jewish!!! Some time ago it was the other way around!!!
Nobody deserves to be humiliated.
Please react, please circulate widely,
yours in shame, hannah
From: Maro Kevorkian
Sent: Fri, 17 Nov 2006
Subject: My mother's abuse in the Israeli airport... it's time for the world to know...
It is time that victims start to speak up about their humiliations and abuse.... every non-Jew who has lived in Israel has gone through one form of
humiliation or another in many contexts by the leading Israeli power. This
is not an e-mail against Jews or the Israeli people, it's an e-mail against
an abusive authority, it's an e-mail to voice out the stories of victims, of
the unheard.... in hopes of changing the way things are now.
Yesterday, my mother who is a Hebrew University professor of Criminology in
Israel, an Israeli citizen no less, went to the airport to fly to Tunisia to
attend a conference on women's rights. What happened to her in the airport
is a humiliating experience that many of us non-Jews have gone through in the Israeli airport, but always kept quiet about it and did not let them pay
for their abuse towards us. It's time to say ENOUGH! It's time for the voices of the muted to be heard.... abuse is not only physical, there is also mental and emotional abuse that can be more painful in the long run...
please read the letter that my mother has sent to her friends that were waiting for her in Tunisia....
DR NADERA SHALHOUB-KEVORKIAN
LAW FACULTY, HEBREW UNIVERSITY JERUSALEM
TO THE ORGANISERS OF THE CONFERENCE IN TUNIS SHE WAS PREVENTED FROM GOING TO:
I am so sad to inform you that the Israeli security forces in the airport prevented me from participating in the conference on: Women and Sexual Reproductive Rights held in Tunis.
The process of humiliation by the Israeli security forces started when we reached the airport at the gate. As you all know I live in the Old City of
Jerusalem, and I use transportation from my area. The moment they learned
that both the driver and myself live in East Jerusalem, they asked us to park the car on the side, take all our/my luggage and follow them for body
and luggage search. A young soldier in a small room in the airport gate searched me, asked me to take off my shoes, took mine and the drivers mobile phones and asked us to wait for almost 40 minutes until they finished
checking the cars body and engine.
After all this process, I managed to get inside the airport, and there continued the process of humiliation. I was the only one to wait for a long
time. I knew that they were doing a security check on my name, address, and
other information. A young female soldier tried to help out and started convincing her superior to allow me to pass. It took her a while then she
came, asked me to put my luggage in the x-ray machines and pass.
another security agent asked me to bring all my belongings and follow him up
for an additional search. Here, something like 3-4 security personnel were
checking my one small bag, my computer bag and my carry-on purse.
They, started taking off the clothes from the luggage, my shoes,
make up, medicine, and placed them in such a messy manner on a long counter.
I was the only one that was searched. I did not know what to look at or follow up. My reading material was all over the counter, mixed with my clothes and shoes. Young men were emptying my make up kit and spreading my
medication, when one took a picture of my girls, and the other security guy
pulled my shoes out of the laggage and put them on the picture... My visit
cards, my papers, everything was scattered.with all my belongings in such a
disrespectful manner... I stood there not knowing what to do, I was about
to cry when I saw my reading materials falling on the floor, and the pages
scattered... I asked the female security personnel- that was checking my printed material not to mix between the various articles, she replied ( with
so much valgarity) that I could find the pages and organize them later on.
While I was trying to explain to her that my reading and printing material should be kept intact, I saw another security man fetching my wallet while pulling off all the credit cards and putting them on the counter, and emptying my purse in such a humiliating manner. His friend on
the other side was picking up my underwear one after the other and joking about my bras to his friends in Hebrew- thinking that I dont speak the language. They also took my cell phones and I was unable to call anyone for
help. At one point, the phone was ringing and I asked one of them to give
it to me, and he did- by I missed the call; and he took it back.
The whole seen of people mixing all my things together, while I am standing
mesmerized captivated by their inhumanity, failing to follow up who is doing
what, where and how- was horrible and painful. I could not hold my tears,
wondering how much one could accept humiliation, dishonor and degradation in the name of Security reasoning; and went to get me a tissue to wipe my tears from my purse, when a security officer screamed at me that I cant touch the purse. While I am in this state, and while my belongings were so
dispersed and scattered all over the long counter, the security officer in
charge came and told me that I cant take my reading material to the plane.
I started explaining -with tears and so much anger- to him that I need to read on my way, and it is a 5 hour flight, and my reading material is crucial to me. It took me a while arguing with him and another security officer until I managed to get the approval to take all the pages that they
scattered and messed up with me to the plane. The time was flying and I was about to miss my flight, when a very polite young security officer told
me that she will book me a seat, so as to be ready. She actually did book
me a window seat. In a short time, the head of the security officers came
and told me that I cant take my laptop with me to the plane. Again, and while being so hurt, while seeing them joking when looking at my clothes, ridiculing me while dropping my tooth brush on the floor, my money scattered on the counter and much much more- I started explaining to them that I cant leave without the laptop. In trying to calm myself down, and decrease my feeling of hurt, I asked the head of the security to cal his superior. His superior, in the name of Tal Vardi # 14544 came (he gave me
this name following my request). He was so disrespectful, so rude and abrasive. I [WINDOWS-1252?] was explaining to him how important my laptop
is to me, I told him that I need to prepare my lecture, and that a laptop from Israel
will never reach Tunisia (there is a high probability that it will be lost or stolen).
He kept on telling me that I cant take the laptop with me. Then I told him
that if that is a rule, they should inform people that laptops are not allowed on the planes and that security forces cant do it without prior notice. Tal Vardi with such a humiliating and sarcastic manner replied (while having all his staff around him): So next time I need to call you and talk to you before you fly ??? Do you think that we have time for you??"
At that moment I decided that I should call for additional help, for Tal Vardi refused to talk to me totally, and left me alone. At that time, three security people were packing my stuff in such a mess, pulling the
computers battery, wrapping the laptopwithout even getting my approval. I called Bilha Cohen the secretary at the institute of Criminology, she then gave me the phone number of the Deans office. I called Aliza, the Deans
secretary, she gave me his home number, and I called, his wife gave him to
me, and he said that he cant do anything and that I should call his deputy,
she is the one that could help me out. By that time I was 20 minutes from
my flight. I called his deputy, and there was no one in the office, and my
computer was wrapped out about to be sent to Tunisia- as they planned. I then started yelling while trying to explain but this time with so much anger and told them that their way of treating people is not human, that I allowed them to check everything in my luggage, that I cooperated, but they
treated me with such a rude and inhumane manner. Their refusal to allow me
to take my laptop with me, even when I was willing it to them if they give
it to me in the airplane; and following their refusal to even talk to me or
calm me down- they all left me sitting on that long counter alone, 15 minutes from my flight, trying to find a way out. Their talks, their methods of poking fun at me, and their disrespect made me tell them I am not flying. I pulled my luggage, unwrapped the laptop, and left the place.
This whole process of humiliation took between 1:40- 4:30 pm. I ended up with bad chest pains, dizziness and illness which led to vomiting and the feeling of such humiliattion. I called some friends to help me out, such as
Einas from Mada Organization, and Mr. Jaafar Farah and Adella from Musawa
Organization. They both called me over 7-10 times trying to calm me down,
asking some activists from the office and the airport to help out. I also called my friend Dorit Roer-Streir, but no one was able to change the situation. I left the airport, unable to breath, walk or function.
I am sorry again to miss you, miss learning from the conference and miss sharing with you my work, but must state that there is a limit to the amount
of humiliation that one could take, and I felt that the whole process of turning me as a Palestinian woman into a naked entity, with no value, no voice, no respect and no power to fight this demonization back, made me refuse to fly. How could I fly as a human, when all they wanted to do is to
strip me from my humanity, using all the power they have, while stealing from me even my ability to protect my girls' picture, my writings, my reading material, my laptop and my other personal belongings? It was indeed
horrible; the way a system of oppression tries to turn us from humans to metamorphosis homo scares...
Please accept my apologies, and please write back to my university and to the Israeli state and ask them to stop depriving us from our ability to participate in conferences, to aquire knowledge, to get each others' support, and stop using our bodies/lives and their security reasoning to marginalize, ostracize, and humiliate us.
Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian (November 16, 2006)