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News > World

Israeli Police Accuse US Activist of 'Coming to Do Bombings'

  • U.S. pro-Palestine activist Ramah Kudaimi says the experience made her more determined to continue her work against the Israeli occupation.

    U.S. pro-Palestine activist Ramah Kudaimi says the experience made her more determined to continue her work against the Israeli occupation. | Photo: AFP

Published 31 August 2016

Ramah Kudaimi spoke to teleSUR about her experience being interrogated for hours before being deported by Israel while U.S. embassy officials did nothing.

Not only was she denied entry into Israel for “security reasons,” Ramah Kudaimi, Director of Grassroots Organizing at U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation, was also accused of “being a terrorist and coming to do bombings” by a female interrogator at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport last month when she attempted to enter Israel and Palestine with a pro-Palestine delegation from the U.S..

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Shedding light on her experience, Kudaimi told teleSUR Wednesday that she was expecting to be interrogated by Israeli officials given she is Muslim, wears a headscarf and is the daughter of parents who were born in Syria.

“I knew I would be subjected to a long interrogation process at the border due to the racism and Islamophobia of the Israeli regime,” she told teleSUR by email.

Kudaimi said her experience took a terrifying turn “when the woman interrogating me accused me of being a terrorist and coming to do bombings. With the continued War on Terror and heightened Islamophobia, these types of accusations cannot be just laughed at.”

Admitting she felt afraid at the time, she said “the U.S. government has no interest in protecting its citizens in these circumstances."

Kudaimi was denied entry and banned from entering Israel for five years for being a "security threat," she said. Some of her colleagues on the delegation were banned for more than 10 years, according to a statement issued by End the Occupation earlier this month.

The statement slammed the delegates’ own U.S. government, which has a visa waiver with Israel, for providing no assistance to them while they were being interrogated and handcuffed for hours.

“Some officials made comments indicating they had no power over the treatment of U.S. citizens held at the airport despite visa agreements between Israel and the United States,” the statement said.

But Kudaimi rejected her government’s excuse, stressing that turning a blind eye to Israel’s repeated mistreatment and harassment toward Muslim, Arab and Palestinian U.S. citizens was “just part and parcel of the special relationship between the two countries built upon the shared values of militarism, war, colonization, and racism.”

The grassroots organizer, who has been involved in pro-Palestinian activism for almost half a decade, also criticized Washington for providing “billions of dollars of military aid every year" while protecting Israel from "being held accountable for its war crimes against Palestinians and violations of international law.”

She argued the billions constituted “plenty of leverage with Israel to at the very least demand it treats all U.S. citizens equally.”

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The delegation included five delegates and was mostly made up of people of color with Middle Eastern heritage, who wanted to get a feel of the conflict on the ground in order to further their understanding of how to end the occupation.

“This was an opportunity to travel there and see for myself the oppressive conditions Palestinians were living under and witness their resistance as well. I was also going as part of an Indigenous and people of color delegation, so was excited for the opportunity to continue to build across struggles for freedom, justice, and equality,” Kudaimi said.

But the experience was anything but a deterrent from continuing her pro-Palestine activism and instead “helped me feel a small dose of what Palestinians have gone through since the founding of the state of Israel in 1948.”

For decades Israel has controlled the lives of Palestinians, Kudaimi said, through “denying them freedom of movement through checkpoints and policies of displacement, as well as denying Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homeland.”

Thus if anything the ordeal “forced me to further my commitment to ending all U.S. complicity in Israel's oppression of Palestinians.”

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