U.S. Jewish activist detained at airport over previous West Bank visits

Weinberg-Connors arrived in Israel with the intention of making aliyah at a later stage. A-1 visas are only granted to those who are eligible to make aliyah according to the Law of Return.

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September 13, 2018 00:40
2 minute read.
Julie Weinberg-Connors

Julie Weinberg-Connors. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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A left-wing Jewish American activist was detained and questioned by the Interior Ministry on Wednesday, notwithstanding being issued an A-1 temporary residence visa, because of previous visits to Area A in the West Bank.

Julie Weinberg-Connors, 23, was eventually allowed into Israel, after being assisted by lawyer Leora Bechor.

Weinberg-Connors arrived here with the intention of making aliyah (immigrating) at a later stage. A-1 visas are only granted to those who are eligible to immigrate in accordance with the Law of Return.

Officials initially denied Weinberg- Connors entry, citing “illegal immigration” and that the “civil administration does not want her in Israel,” according to journalist and educator Daniel Roth, who was in touch with Weinberg-Connors during the incident.

According to a second source who was in touch with Weinberg- Connors during the activist’s detention, the non-binary person completed an aliyah file with the Jewish Agency. Two weeks ago, JAFI notified Weinberg-Connors that it was forwarding the aliyah file to the Interior Ministry because the activist had previously visited Area A in the past.

As an intern with the NGO Encounter, Weinberg-Connors visited several areas in the West Bank which Israeli law prevents citizens – but not tourists – from entering. Weinberg-Connors is currently a member of All That’s Left: Anti-Occupation Collective.

According to Weinberg-Connors’ account, upon arrival at passport control at Ben-Gurion Airport with a US passport and A-1 visa, the activist was directed by the customs inspector to the Interior Ministry questioning area.


According to the source: “An officer there – who never identified himself – asked Julie if they had ever visited the West Bank.

Julie said they had visited Bethlehem, major cities, and several other places. When Julie mentioned visiting Khan al-Ahmar in the past, the officer said, ‘You cannot enter Israel.’ When Julie asked why, the officer said, ‘Because you’re here to make trouble.’” The Population and Immigration Authority told Channel 10 News that Weinberg-Connors had planned to visit the West Bank without the required permits, and admitted the activist entry after the American committed to obtaining the necessary permit.

According to the source, however, Weinberg-Connors has no plans to visit the West Bank while in the country.
Weinberg-Connors mentioned that they (she prefers to be referred to in the third person plural as it is gender neutral) have a letter from their rabbi attesting to the activist being Jewish, and had already been granted an A-1 visa. The Interior Ministry official responded that it didn’t matter, and that he was deporting them back to America.

Weinberg-Connors contacted their lawyer. Weinberg-Connors said that after some time, during which officials proceeded with arrangements for deportation, an officer presented them with a document in English and Hebrew that said they would not enter Area A. The officer informed Weinberg-Connors that they could either sign the document or be deported. After signing the document, they were granted entry.

Meretz MK Mossi Raz wrote on Twitter that Weinberg-Connors had previously lived in Israel for a year and had done community work here. “It appears that in the government’s struggle against democracy, it is abandoning Zionism and making the Law of Return be for right-wingers only,” he wrote.

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