[Note: the following is an account written by Cliff Kindy about his deportation from Israeli in January 2011.]
On 17 January 2011, Cliff Kindy returned from a round
trip to the airport in Tel Aviv. He had planned to rejoin CPT in the West
Bank for the first time since Israel had refused him entry in 1998.
Many human rights observers and peacemakers have been refused entry to Israel
because of work in Palestine, and exponentially more Palestinians have not been
able to enter a d visit their families
Israeli refusals of CPTers have jumped from eight in the seventeen years before
2010 to six in the last year. International Solidarity Movement
volunteers have faced “you could safely say dozens” of refusals. Additionally, Noam Chomsky and Nobel
Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire were refused entry this year.
After his arrival on 15 January, passport control asked Kindy why he was visiting,
the duration of his stay and if he was alone. The agent tried to swipe
his passport through the computer unsuccessfully. She sent him to the “waiting
room” while someone else processed his passport.
Israeli security then sent Kindy to another office. A woman repeated the previous
questions. After, a male agent joined her, Kindy shared openly he was a
CPT volunteer and had been in Israel/Palestine during the 1990s. He told
the agents about CPT riding bus #18 in Jerusalem as a protest after suicide
bombers had hit it twice.
After another spell in the waiting room, Kindy was taken to another office. Here
three agents requested home phone, cell phone, email addresses, and contacts
with the Palestine teams. Kindy explained he would stay with the Hebron
team before traveling to the project in Tuwani. ”Who is meeting you? What is the address and phone number of
the apartment?” they asked. Kindy said he did not know which CPTers would
be in Hebron nor the apartment address and chose not to give the phone number.
One agent asked, “Will you travel to Hebron on the Israeli settlement bus?”
Kindy detailed Palestinian bus travel to Hebron via Bethlehem. Though he did
not remember the apartment address, he assured security he could walk there.
The agent was skeptical, “I was in Hebron while in the military. Much has
changed in these years.”
Kindy replied, ”A great deal is changing in Israel/Palestine. The Palestinian
nonviolence movement is making great strides. Israel arrests and jails
the nonviolent leadership to halt that progress. Many more countries
recognize Palestine with pre-1967 borders. The boycott of Israeli products,
divestment from companies profiting by the occupation and sanctions against
Israel are adding pressure.”
Sent back to the waiting room, Kindy now had his own security guard.
Shortly after, security took him into the hall and explained they wanted to examine
his luggage. Cliff asked to call the U.S. Embassy. The officer said
he could make the call later. Two young Israeli women joined them and for
an hour in another room, seven different people processed his two backpacks and
searched his body while Kindy told stories of CPT’s work.
Back in the waiting room, Kindy explained the political situation to his guard who told Cliff they could not speak together. When he tried to
speak to a Palestinian who entered the room, the guard separated them and would not allow them to talk. So, Kindy began to speak about the political
situation to the silent TV where a soccer match played across the screen. The Palestinian responded with nods of agreement and the guard interjected with, “That’s not true!”
Soon guards took one pack planeside and Kindy again asked to call the embassy.
Security told him, “Israel has decided you cannot enter Israel and cannot
have a phone call. You can call the embassy in Atlanta because you are a
U.S. citizen. You can return in 2020 if you carry a letter from the Minister
of the Interior. We will soon take you to the plane.”
A new security person guarded Kindy while he changed clothes. He would
not allow him to close the door and seemed under orders to watch him closely. Then
his personal guard and the sixteenth security person led Kindy through a back
elevator to the exit gate, down the jet way and onto the plane.