Saturday, June 28, 2008

Stolen Days in Israel: One American's Nightmare

Recently, a friend of mine of whom I have the utmost trust and respect sent me an e-mail about the traumatic experiences of a good friend of his who had traveled to Israel. An American citizen, she was not only denied entry into Israel for a spurious reason that was seemingly predicated on ethnic profiling and stereotyping (ironic, no?) but was also detained for three days in a dingy, unsanitary Israeli security facility. Denied access to the U.S. embassy, when she finally was able to meet with an American embassy official, this official proved to be less than useless and instead was cold and unhelpful. This story will never be publicized by our corporate media, which fears AIPAC and "Dual Loyalty" Dershowitz retaliation (i.e. allegations that they are "anti-Semitic") and prefers to portray a squeaky-clean image of the Israeli state and its policies, many of which do not meet international legal norms. It is up to people (us) to make sure that the such stories are made known to the rest of the general public. With her permission (see the link for the full parameters), I encourage my readers to disseminate this story/link as widely as possible. I will do the same.


If we complained about our conditions they would scream at us. The cell was dirty, the blankets they gave us were old, and nothing was cleaned. They barely took out the trash. When someone complained about the dirty cell the “big boss,” as they called him, started screaming at the woman and threw the broom and dust pan into the room and told her to clean it. There was a cleaning lady but she didn’t really clean well and made the room dirtier....There was some kind of attitude that we were in some kind of hotel....The room had 6 beds but often there would be 7 of us. It was a room of maybe 8×10, there was a bathroom and two showers. The bathroom looked like it hadn’t been cleaned for a long time. There was little air circulation. There was a window but the way the building was made no breeze came in and it had two layers of “bars” that also impeded air circulation. They would put on the air conditioning at night, not during the day, and it would get so cold, like almost 50ºF, and caused us to get sick. I started getting sick, wanting to vomit, probably because of the stress, the conditions. The only time we were able to leave the cell was to smoke a cigarette, which would be at the most three times a day. No exercise, fresh air or sunshine. And we would just stand in the hallway in front of the cell, in front of open windows to smoke the cigarettes. I would just pretend to smoke just to leave the cell. The floor was dirty, the blankets and this thin mattress cover were old. They didn’t change these things, and with people coming in and out from different countries who knows what was in the blankets. Sick people, bacteria. They gave some a toothbrush. This is about all we got.

The cells were mostly filled with migrant workers, with a few Palestinians who were trying to get to Palestine (who were coming from elsewhere). The migrant workers had come on different visas and would just overstay their time. There were women from the Philippines, Georgia, Russia, Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka, Moldova, Nepal etc. They were all shocked when I told them I was American and just a tourist. They wondered why I was there. A lot of the migrant workers would be sent to jail, or Ramle, before they came to the immigration detention center. A woman from Nepal stayed in Ramle for 6 months just because she was waiting to get paid by her employer, then she came to the detention center to get deported....

A Filipino woman said: “This place makes you crazy. You’ll see. They tell you that you will leave tomorrow, then two more days, then more. You go crazy in here.” I probably would have gone crazy if I stayed any longer than I did.

They barely gave us water. They told us to drink from the tap when it didn’t seem drinkable; it tasted like paint or something....

I couldn’t sleep because of lack of ventilation, unsanitary conditions. Whenever I put on the thick blankets they gave us, thick blankets for winter but given to us in the summer, I felt things crawling on my body and biting me. I couldn’t eat because of depression and the circumstances. I had no appetite even though I was hungry. I would eat maybe once or twice a day. I ate just so the hunger pains wouldn’t hurt as much.

I was treated like an animal. Put in a cage, yelled at, not allowed out, not allowed to call anyone. They are the animals. Surrounded by such stupid people. They were like people off the street made policemen, made to guard immigrants. They treat the migrant workers like slaves, like dirt. To lock someone up like that.

I’ll never travel alone again. I used to feel free to travel alone, and comfortable. I’ve done a lot of traveling by myself, even in Iran.....

After being back and speaking to my friends and my mom I found out even more sick information. When my mom or my friend in Palestine would call any Israeli authority they would not tell them where I was or that I was even there. They told my friend in Palestine that I was not even there and they told my mom that I was no longer being detained. This makes me even sicker.


Jason said...
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"علي " said...
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