Hundreds of internationals on their way to visit Palestinians in Gaza have been prevented from departing from the ports in Greece. However, we hope that on July 8th, 2011, hundreds of others of us from many countries will succeed in reaching Palestine by flying to Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. We have been invited by some forty Palestinian organizations to “Welcome to Palestine,” a week of activities in Palestine. It should be a wonderful visit, but most of us are frankly a bit scared. This is because of one decision we’ve all made: to tell the truth that our plan is to visit Palestine. It should be so simple, shouldn’t it? But it is not, because Israel controls all access to Palestine — by air, and by land, as well as by sea.
Even the website of the U.S. State Department warns of “prolonged questioning and thorough searches by Israeli authorities upon entry or departure,” of particularly “probing questioning” visited upon “U.S. citizens whom Israeli authorities suspect of being of Arab, Middle Eastern, or Muslim origin,” who are frequently denied entry. This is also true of visitors who are suspected to sympathize with Palestinians. The U.S. and the European countries refuse to protect their own citizens against these abuses by Israeli authorities.
The draconian and discriminating procedures at the borders of Israel have but one aim: to further isolate Palestinians and reinforce their inferior status; to trap them, away from any outside witnesses, in an increasingly constrictive maze of bantustans, separated by checkpoints and walls. By failing to insist that Israel allow travel to Palestine, our western governments support Israel’s apartheid policies. In fact, occupied territory is not sovereign territory and Israel’s authority over the occupied Palestinian territories is subject to international humanitarian law. This authority does not include the right to arbitrarily deny entry of foreign passport holders wishing to visit, reside, or work in the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT — See http://www.righttoenter.ps/etemplate.php?id=146.)
We are flying to Ben Gurion on July 8th to visit friends in Palestine, and we insist that our own governments support us in doing so. Supporting our visit to Palestine will be one small step towards bringing about the freedom of movement for all the peoples of Israel/Palestine that is essential for peace and justice in the Middle East.
PALESTINE: Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, firstname.lastname@example.org, +972(0)598939532
JERUSALEM: Sergio Yahni, email@example.com, +972(0)526375032
FRANCE: Nicolas Shahshahani, firstname.lastname@example.org
GERMANY: Sophia Deeg, email@example.com, +49(0)88 007761, +49(0)1799878414
UK: Sofiah MacLeod, firstname.lastname@example.org,+44(0)7931 200 36100, +44(0)131 620 0052
USA: Karin Pally, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, +1 310-399-1921
English articles and stories on the event
Other related websites/links:
http://bienvenuepalestine.com (French and English)