My participation in an interfaith delegation trip to Palestine and Israel was blocked by Israeli officials who detained, interrogated and then expelled me because they deemed me to be "a security risk."
The idea that a Quaker mother of two has the ability to be a risk to a country which has one of the most powerful militaries in the world is both absurd and telling at the same time.
The questions started at passport control. "What is your father's name?" "What is your grandfather's name?" I was immediately escorted to a dirty room to await further interrogation, and I was questioned no fewer than seven times and was even asked directly, "Are you a terrorist?"
All this because I am a Palestinian, and I will not be silent. I actively work to end the Israeli occupation and the Israeli Shin Bet did examine my online record while they held me in captivity.
The Israelis demanded access to my gmail account. When I refused to provide my password, they said that I must be hiding something sinister. That's when they said I was a terrorist.
I was taken to security to claim my suitcase. They went through my belongings thoroughly and searched every inch of my body.
When they discovered that I had taken detailed notes about my interrogations, the lead interrogator was furious. He accused me of sound recording or photographing the questioning. He was especially interested in my notes about my phone conversation with a staffer at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. I told them that the Embassy advised me to keep a record of my treatment.
But in reality, the U.S. Embassy was of no assistance at all. The first question they asked me was "Are you Jewish?"
When I told them that I was a Palestinian with family in the West Bank, they responded that they could do nothing to assist me. In fact, they said the more they interceded on my behalf, the worse it would go for me.
So much for $3 billion U.S. tax dollars each year to Israel.
I was taken to a prison cell where I was detained overnight and then was driven onto a runway to board a commercial flight to Europe and then onto the States. I did not have my passport returned to me until the plane was taking off. The stewardess offered it to me with a look of sympathy.
I was unable to reach my husband from the airport in Frankfurt and no one was sure of my whereabouts for many hours. I feel especially sick about all the worry this caused to my family and friends.
As I was sitting in prison waiting for my deportation, I could not help but think of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention with no idea of when or if they will ever be released.
I thought of the millions of Palestinians denied the right to return to their homeland by Israel. Israel has created and maintains through violence a Jewish majority at their expense.
My experiences of detention and deportation were unnerving and designed to intimidate, and I am disappointed because I missed the delegation trip and my cousin's wedding in the West Bank this past weekend, but my ordeal is only a small part of Israel's systematic oppression of Palestinians.
In fact, I am among the very lucky. I am at home now with my beautiful family.
These experiences demand that I continue to speak fearlessly against the injustices of Israel against the Palestinian people.
Count on hearing from me.
Coverage of my story can be found at the following links:
Here's a photo from my cousin's wedding last Saturday.
I will write another diary on how the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and the State Department treated me. Look for it in the next few days.