Palestinian workers stand in line next to a portion of the separation wall, waiting to cross through the checkpoint from Bethlehem into Israel. (Miriam Alster / Flash90)
The reality in the West Bank is one that resembles a prison, where Israel controls the law, the security, who can leave, and now who can visit.
By Noam Sheizaf / Local Call via +972 Magazine
March 7, 2017
There is no peace process, nor is there a real discussion over one state or two states. Even discussions on whether Israel is an apartheid state have become intellectual fodder for Jews and leftists. The reality is one that resembles a prison, and the prisoners will continue to be held by force . . . .
The Knesset passed a law Monday night denying entry visas or residency rights to foreign nationals who call for boycotts against Israel or the settlements. The law won’t have much of an effect on entry into Israel proper, but rather will mostly affect those trying to enter the West Bank — a solid reminder that the ban is yet another example of the way Israel holds Palestinians prisoners. After all, one can assume that most people who enter the Palestinian territories oppose the settlements or support some version of the boycott.
Because Israel controls every point of entry into areas under Palestinian control in the West Bank, Palestinians cannot leave (without a permit) or come back (without a permit). With the passage of the law, they are no longer allowed to have visitors. In other words: they are prisoners, and these restrictions are just the tip of the iceberg.
Daniela Vargas, 22, was released Friday from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody. She had been detained after speaking out at a news conference in Jackson, Mississippi. (photo: Elijah Baylis / The Clarion-Ledger)
Daniela Vargas talks about her life before being detained by ICE agents, what life what like in detention and what her hopes are for the future.
By Sarah Fowler / The Clarion-Ledger
March 13, 2017
“We’re all here for the same reason, even Americans.America is the land of the free. Who wouldn’t want to be here?”
— Daniela Vargas
For 10 days, Daniela Vargas existed in a world closed off from the rest of society.
She didn’t eat, didn’t sleep. She cried for the first 48 hours.
She was alive but she wasn’t living. Her new reality was a far cry from the life she knew. The life she knew before immigration agents took her into custody.
But Vargas did what she has been doing since she was a 7-year-old immigrant who didn’t speak the same language as the other first-graders. She adapted.
A soldier guards a Purim celebration in Hebron. (photo: Gil Cohen-Magen)
If supporting a non-violent boycott of the settlements makes me an enemy of the Israeli state, so be it. But Israel’s border officers will have to hear my story before they turn me away for good.
By Letty Cottin Pogrebin / Haaretz
March 9, 2017
I can’t unsee what I’ve seen or ignore what I know. The violation of another people by the Jewish State in the name of the Jewish people has pricked my conscience and inspired my activism over these last four decades. It makes me mourn for the principles enshrined in Israel’s Declaration of Independence whose words, now moribund, once sent us out in the streets dancing for joy. . . . If that makes me an enemy of the state, so be it. But like many other Jews outraged by this new ban, I will return because Israel’s founders guaranteed me refuge and my parents taught me that Israel was my second home. The border officers will have to look me in the eyes and hear my story before they turn me away for good.
Okay, yes, I’ve written critical articles and signed Open Letters protesting Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and decrying the settlement enterprise; and yes, I’ve been a member of Americans for Peace Now for more than 30 years and a supporter of B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch, ACRI, and the New Israel Fund, among other “suspect” organizations. So it’s a safe bet that, under the new Israeli entry ban, I’m going to end up on the government’s blacklist.
But if they’re going to ban me, I think they ought to know a few other facts about the American Jewish woman they’ve judged too dangerous to step foot beyond the security gate at Ben Gurion airport. To wit:
- My paternal grandparents made aliyah in the 1930s and both are buried in Tiberias, my grandfather the victim of an Arab raid, my grandmother the casualty of her traumatic loss.
Participants in the Open Hillel Conference, Harvard University. (photo: Gili Getz)
On Monday, the Knesset passed a law denying entry to any person “who knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel” or any territory “under Israeli control,” which includes settlements in the West Bank. I’m one of those people.
By Peter Beinart / The Forward
March 8, 2017
Now, it seems, the Knesset wants me to choose. Either stop visiting Israel or stop opposing the occupation. In a variety of ways, that’s the deal Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been offering American Jews for close to a decade now. Embrace Israel at the cost of your principles or embrace your principles at the cost of Israel.
I have a theory about American Jewish kids and Israel. I’m trying it out on my own children.
My theory boils down to “Love first, truth later.” When my kids near adulthood, I’ll encourage them to visit the West Bank. I’ll encourage them to see for themselves what it means to hold millions of people as noncitizens, under military law, without free movement or due process. I’ll encourage them to read real histories of Israel’s war of independence, histories that explode the myth that most Palestinian refugees left their homes willingly. I’ll encourage them to consume as much Palestinian poetry, literature, journalism and film as possible. I want them to see how Israel looks from the other side.
But not too early. My fear is that if they encounter harsh truths at too young an age, it will drive them away. They’ll grow to hate Israel, or wash their hands of it. I’ve seen that happen a lot.
Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University (photo: Michael Walzer)
“In spite of our different views, we stand in strong opposition to the new law,” petition reads, while other liberal U.S. Jews warn new law will cause drift toward BDS camp.
By Taly Krupkin / Haaretz
March 10, 2017
“I’m very disappointed that Israel cannot deal with criticism in a democratic manner, and instead has to ban people who do not agree with the current government’s policy, Zionists, friends of Israel, people who feel deeply connected to the country.”
— David Biale, Professor of Jewish History, U.C. Davis
Dozens of prominent Jewish scholars worry they won’t be able to visit Israel anymore, citing a new law entitling the government to deny entry to supporters of boycotts against the country or its settlements in occupied territory. Meanwhile, only days after the passing of the new law, more than 100 Jewish studies scholars have signed a letter in which they threaten to refrain from visiting Israel in protest.
“Among us are those who oppose the BDS movement, those who oppose BDS but support a settlement boycott, and those who support BDS,” says the petition that has come to the attention of Haaretz, although it has not yet been published.
“In spite of our different views, we stand in strong opposition to the new law. It will be bad for Israel, bad for the cause of democracy at this fragile moment, and bad for the principles of free speech and thought on which our scholarship is based. We hope that the Israeli judiciary will overturn the new law and assure us that our political speech will not prevent us from continuing our rich scholarly interactions with Israeli colleagues in the field of Jewish studies. Should the law stand, we may no longer be permitted — nor permit ourselves — to enter the State of Israel.”
(photo: The Jewish Chronicle)
Hugh Lanning was refused entry just a week after the Knesset passed a law banning foreign nationals who call for boycotts.
By Rosa Doherty / The Jewish Chronicle
March 13, 2017
“We call upon the British Government to make clear to Israel that it is not acceptable for it to ban entry to British citizens whose only crime is to advocate for human rights of the Palestinian people and to protest against policies that violate those rights.”
— Ben Jamal, Director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign
The chairman of the [U.K.] Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has been prevented from entering Israel.
Hugh Lanning was refused entry on Sunday, just a week after the Knesset passed a law banning foreign nationals who call for boycotts.
Lanning would likely have been barred prior to the introduction of the law due to a longstanding policy to refuse entry to boycott activists; however, border police told him he had been blocked due to the new legislation.
Gilad Erdan, Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister, also made explicit the link between the new law and the treatment of Lanning, saying on Sunday evening: “Those acting against Israel need to understand that reality is changing. No sane country would permit entry to the main activists calling for its boycott and who work leave it isolated.”
A Palestinian family sits next to the remains of their home near the village of Jenbah, which is in Firing Zone 918 in the West Bank, February 2, 2016. (photo: AFP)
Eight ways Trump can make Mexicans and Muslims experience what Palestinians do.
By Amira Hass / Haaretz
February 3, 2017
Barely a week has passed and you’ve screwed things up, Donald Trump. The reason is simple: You didn’t consult Israel on how to deny entry into your country without rousing half the world against you. But when it comes to your other promise — actual expulsion — you still have time to consult us.
For a lack of patience and space only two types of expulsion will be discussed here — two of the many types we’ve become experts at: the expulsion of native Palestinian Jerusalemites from their city, and the expulsion of West Bank residents from their homes.
- Quiet. Don’t publicize the expulsion policy. Let every person being expelled confront the decree alone and believe that the problem lies with him. Personally. . . .
- Astonishment. Insist that after all nothing has changed and that these laws have been there since time immemorial. . . .
- Gradualism. Expulsion is built one step at a time, as if by chance. . . .
- Legal support (A). In 1988, the Supreme Court ruled that it was legal to expel a Palestinian born in 1943 in Jerusalem because he also had foreign citizenship. . . .
- Variety. Don’t stick to one excuse, Mr. President. We successfully rely on a raft of excuses for expelling Palestinians from their land, their homeland, their homes. . . .
- Legal support (B). Our judges avoid ruling against the policy of unequal zoning and construction for Jews and Arabs.
- Scant water supply. Cut back on water, Trump. Rule that every Muslim or Mexican will be eligible for only a quarter or less of the water consumed by an average WASP. . . .
- The support of the elites. Send aides to Israel. They’ll get tips on how routine expulsion activities are greeted by the silence of most of the enlightened educated intelligentsia. . . .
[Read the full article here . . . ]
Diana Hodges places a sticky note that calls for freeing 22-year old Daniela Vargas, a Argentine native who has lived in the United States since she was seven years old, on the office doors of lawmakers at the Capitol. (photo: Rogelio V. Solis / AP)
By Sarah Smith / AP via The Seattle Times
February 3, 2017
“Immigrants like Ms. Vargas just want a better life for themselves and their families and are true believers in the American dream — they should not be pushed further into the shadows.”
— Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi
Before she was arrested following an immigration protest, Daniela Vargas dreamed of earning her college degree in Mississippi, then becoming a math professor and soccer mom, driving three kids around in an SUV.
Now the 22-year-old friends describe as all-American girl may be deported without a hearing to Argentina, a country she hasn’t seen since she was 7, when her parents fled a collapsing economy and violated a visa waiver program to find work in the United States.
Her attorneys said they filed a motion Friday with the Department of Homeland Security to allow Vargas, now detained in Louisiana, to remain in the U.S. until they can make her case before a judge. Meanwhile, her friends canvassed the state Capitol building, leaving notes seeking help from lawmakers.
(photo: Daniel Ramirez Medina / via AP)
Daniel Ramirez Medina, a 23-year-old Mexican, was detained on Feb 10 by federal agents who initially came to arrest his father.
By Gene Johnson / AP
February 4, 2017
“On behalf of Mexican nationals brought to the United States as young children by their parents, the Governors of Mexico would like to express our support and admiration for the daily struggle they endure in their effort to succeed, attain an education and shape their future and their communities’ future through hard work.”
The governors of Mexico have written to an American court to express support for a Seattle-area man who has been detained for weeks despite his participation in a federal program to protect people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
The National Conference of Governors of Mexico sent the letter to U.S. Magistrate Judge James Donohue, who is overseeing the case of Daniel Ramirez Medina. Ramirez, a 23-year-old Mexican, was arrested February 10 in a Seattle suburb by immigration agents who initially arrived to detain his father, identified as a previously deported felon.
“On behalf of Mexican nationals brought to the United States as young children by their parents, the Governors of Mexico would like to express our support and admiration for the daily struggle they endure in their effort to succeed, attain an education and shape their future and their communities’ future through hard work,” the letter reads.
(photo: Imani Khayyam / Jackson Free Press)
Daniela Vargas, an aspiring math teacher, was detained after speaking an immigrants’ rights event, as ICE calls arrest “targeted immigration enforcement.”
By Matt Kessler / The Guardian
December 3, 2017
“I don’t understand why they don’t want me. I’m doing the best I can. I mean, I can’t help that I was brought here but I don’t know anything else besides being here and I didn’t realize that until I was in a holding cell last night for five hours. I was brought here. I didn’t choose to be here. And when I was brought here, I had to learn a whole new country and leave behind the one that I did know.”
A 22-year-old who was detained as she was leaving a press conference on immigrants’ rights Wednesday will not get a court hearing before she is deported, her lawyers said.
Daniela Vargas was in the process of renewing her application for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the Obama administration program that temporarily protects from deportation undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children. Vargas was an aspiring math teacher who went to college while under the program. And Bill Chandler, an immigrants’ advocate who knew Vargas well, said she had a receipt showing that her application was being processed.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said in a statement on Wednesday that the action was part of “targeted immigration enforcement.” On Thursday, the lawyer Nathan Elmore said ICE had indicated it would pursue immediate deportation against Vargas without allowing her to first have a court hearing. Vargas’s lawyers have filed a petition challenging ICE’s decision.
“ICE is supposed to target undocumented immigrants who commit crimes,” said Elmore. “Convicted criminals. Daniela doesn’t fit into any of these categories. Is this where you want your tax dollars directed?”