Top ISM leader denied entry into Israel

Officials say name is on list of foreigners suspected of anti-Israel activity.

larudee ism 298.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
larudee ism 298.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
An International Solidarity Movement activist was denied entry into Israel on Sunday night, according to the organization's spokeswoman and the Ministry of Interior. Paul Larudee, who runs ISM activities in the Northern Californian region, is currently being detained at Ben-Gurion Airport said his lawyer Gabi Lasky. On Monday, Lasky presented the Tel Aviv Administrative Court with an infringement order asking the Ministry of Interior to state the reasons for Larudee's detainment and requesting that her client be allowed immediate entry. The court gave the ministry two days to respond. "Once they respond, we will know why he was detained; as yet, we have been given no reason as to why he is not allowed to enter Israel," Lasky said. But according to security officials, Larudee's name appears on a Shin Bet (Israeli Security Agency)-compiled list of foreign far-left activists suspected of involvement in dangerous anti-Israel activity. The Ministry of Interior is responsible for ensuring that the suspect is not allowed into Israel. Security officials said that Larudee was one of the ISM's top leaders and was behind anti-Israel activity during IDF operations in the territories during the height of the Intifada between 2002 and 2004. Officials said that he was once found in the home of a suicide bomber and that he participated in a violent anti-Israel demonstration. "This person is a danger to the state," one official said. "He is one of the ISM leaders, was in the past involved in anti-Israel activity and therefore will not be allowed to stay in the country." Lasky said that the Shin Bet's decision to deny Larudee entry into Israel and the overall policy which she said was "to blacklist non-violent peace activists as 'persona non grata'" raised questions regarding the sincerity of Israel's intentions to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians through dialogue and non-violent means. ISM spokeswoman Nurit Golan added that in a recent court case involving another ISM activist the Ministry of Interior admitted that, "being a member of ISM was not a reason to be on such a list." "There is no set criteria for such a list and there is no way for people to know if their names are on the list or how to get off it," she continued. "We are being treated as an illegal organization with no opportunity to defend ourselves." "[Larudee] has been here four times before and has never been arrested. He has never done anything illegal," continued Golan, adding that the activist, who is a piano tuner by trade, was here to tune more than 40 pianos in the Palestinian Authority areas, said Golan. In a statement released to the media, Larudee said: "This is something small I can do to make life under the occupation just a little more bearable for people, so I do it." "They have taken away his reading and writing material," said Golan. "We are trying to make sure that he is being treated well." She added that the organization had even appealed to the US Consulate to ensure that he be held in appropriate conditions. Larudee had already spoken to representatives of the consulate, said Golan. Requests by The Jerusalem Post to speak to Larudee in person were denied.