When Canadian businessman Sam Ismail brought his wife and five children to visit his brother’s family in Ramallah last week, he planned to stay for 10 days and tour both Israel and the Palestinian territories. They had flown into Amman, crossed over to the West Bank. Knowing that Palestinian Authority license plates are banned in Israel, Ismail reserved a car at an Israeli rental company. But, when he got to Israeli border control, he was shocked to discover that his Canadian passport was stamped “Palestinian Authority Only.” “Last time they came, they visited Acre, Haifa, Jerusalem — the whole country,” Ismail’s brother Nedal, who lives in the West Bank, told TIME. “This time they packed up after 96 hours and spent the extra week in Jordan instead.”
Ismail had fallen afoul of an Israeli border policy, quietly begun in June, that bars foreigners who say they are visiting the Palestinian Authority from entering Israel. Israel says the visa helps to exclude visitors who threaten security. According to Israeli Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Haddad, the procedure is based on an unpublished 2006 decision by the Israeli interior and defense ministers that “any foreign national who wants to enter the Palestinian Authority must have a permit issued by the army, and entry is permitted only into PA territory.” [continued…]
Uri Davis is used to denunciations. A “traitor”, “scum”, “mentally unstable”: those are just some of the condemnations that have been posted in the Israeli blogosphere in recent days. As the first person of Jewish origin to be elected to the Revolutionary Council of the Palestinian Fatah movement, an organisation once dominated by Yasser Arafat, Davis has tapped a deep reserve of Israeli resentment. Some have even called for him to be deported.
He has been here before, not least as the man who first proposed the critique of Israel as an “apartheid state” in the late 1980s. Davis’s involvement in the first UN World Conference Against Racism in Durban in 2001 was condemned by the Anti-Defamation League. During a career of protest he has been described – inevitably – as a “self-hating Jew”. He calls himself an “anti-Zionist”. And his personal history is a fascinating testimony to the troubled history of the postwar Israeli left and forgotten trajectories in the story of Israel itself.
The man elected to the Revolutionary Council in 31st place from a field of 600 has been as much shaped by the tidal forces of recent Jewish history – not least his own family’s sufferings in the Holocaust – as any fellow citizen of Israel. But he disputes a largely manufactured account of that experience that he believes has been used deliberately “to camouflage” its “apartheid programme”. Now he enjoys an extraordinary mandate to explain his own views. And he hopes, too, that just as the small number of white members of the ANC widened its legitimacy during the apartheid era in South Africa, other Jews can be attracted to participate in Fatah, transforming it into a broader-based movement that stands for equal rights for both Arabs and Jews in a federated state. [continued…]