The Incident: Amy Thomson deliberately tried to breach Israel’s immigration laws so got detained and kicked out (and banned).
A peace activist was detained for 48 hours before being sent back to New Zealand for trying to enter Israel on a tourist visa.
Amy Thomson, 26, was held at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv on February 26. She tried to enter the country for a three-month voluntary internship at a non-government organisation promoting peace.
Thomson said the Israel Palestinian Centre for Research and Information told her she should claim to be a tourist.
Suspicions were raised when Israeli immigration authorities saw she had recently visited Lebanon, which is in ongoing conflict with Israel.
The appropriate response: Apologise, always pays to be polite to immigration officials of any country, don’t get all shouty or start spouting on about rights, and get on the next plane out. There is no way Israeli’s are going to let an Arab sympathising protestor visit their country…It is their country after all, especially if you have written pro-Iranian essays and have your anti-Israel work indexed by Google.
The actual response: She whines to Bevan Hurley, who is the past master at manufacturing outrage. The Herald on Sunday writes a big piece about how you are upset and humiliated for not following Israel’s immigration laws.
One interrogator mockingly congratulated her for winning a $500 prize for an essay she had written on Iranian politics which appeared on the Massey University website.
“I felt humiliated and ashamed. Eventually it seemed to me that he had found something out and knew that I had lied about something.”
Exhausted, after a 24 hour flight and 12 hours questioning, Thomson admitted that she was to work for a non-governmental organisation.
She was transferred to a detention centre and held with other detainees for 36 hours.
Her belongings were confiscated except for an electronic book reader. She was allowed one phone call to the nearest embassy in Turkey.
She said she regretted not being honest but it was a valuable experience.
“I know what it’s like for the Palestinians to deal with what they deal with every single day.”
The centre said it advised interns to travel on tourist visas as they could not get volunteer visas from Israel.
Thomson said the organisation was very apologetic. They said their interns had never been detained.
Thomson was banned from Israel for 10 years.
As a special treat she’ll also have a nightmare at every border crossing now as she will be considered high risk because of this.
Amy Thomson is this week’s Cry Baby of the Week.