From one apartheid to another: Israel deports South African

From one apartheid to another: Israel deports South African
3 min read
17 Feb, 2017
Israel’s tight grip is not limited to the Palestinians, critical activists from around the world are deemed ‘security threats’. Arafat speaks to one South African activist denied entry into Israel.
Israeli police officer in departures hall, October 2004 [Getty Images]

For Israel, a ‘security threat’ is anyone who holds an opposite political view.

Israel not only tightens its grip on the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, but also on those who attempt to support the Palestinian cause abroad. Despite the United Nations Human Rights Council calling for an end to Israel’s systematic campaign to prevent international NGO workers and activists from working in Palestinian lands, these procedures continue.

Activists from around the world trying to enter Palestinian lands through Israel face many difficulties, from being made to wait for hours, interrogated by authorities or even deportation.  

Along with another friend from South Africa, Altaf Adam was one of those targeted and deported from Ben Gurion International Airport after trying to enter Israel en route to a youth camp in Palestine.

Adam spoke to me and told me his story on being deported from Israel.

"My spirits were high, it has been a life’s dream of mine to visit Palestine, and more importantly, the holy mosque of Masjid al-Aqsa," Adam explained when asked about his feelings after deciding to visit Palestine.

"And I still want to visit the Holy Lands, even after my experience," he added.

Adam’s goal from his visit was to join a youth camp and tour Palestine. "The aim of the camp was to build ties between Palestinian youth and youth from around the world."

Upon arriving, Adam was made to wait fourteen hours at the airport. He was then transferred, along with 40 others, to a cell, without being informed why or told what he was accused with. With him in the cell, was a Jewish Ukrainian man, and they remained detained for nearly ten hours.  

Soon enough, soldiers accompanied Adam, handing him a small sized receipt stamped ‘exit permit’ and escorted him towards a plane heading back to South Africa.

"It's frustrating thinking about it, being deported by an authority I do not recognize as the rightful authority of the land," Adam explains. "I was helpless in the moment and exhausted all options to attempt to get pass the Israeli authorities."

When asked about his message to the international community regarding Israeli actions against critical activists, Adam explained that he is not disappointed that he could not get past customs. “My actions are an act of resistance on their own. I would encourage freedom loving people from around the world to continue to challenge the Israeli authorities and their unjust actions.”

Despite not being in Palestine to share his happiness and sympathy with Palestinians, Adam said, "as South Africans, we back the Palestinian struggle for freedom, support them and will assist by any means possible."

"Remain in high spirit and do not lose sight. Unite your people on common grounds." Adam encouraged the Palestinians under the occupation.

You can read more on Adam’s short-lived visit on his blog here.

Mohammed holds a bachelor degree in Teaching English as a Foreign Language and is preparing for a Masters in Peace and Conflict Studies. Author of, Still Living There, a book documenting Gaza's last war and its aftermath.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.