KURBAN: As an Arab in Israel: reflections on being interrogated, jailed, and deported 22Aug13 August 22, 2013

by Carina Caligiuri Kurban      -      Four Corners     -      17 August 2013
81 hours, 6 flights, 5 hours of sleep, 3 countries, 1 ten-year ban.
Before this trip, I had never felt discriminated against as an Arab-American. I knew my father and especially my grandfather had experienced hostility, but it was never a problem for me. Sure, there was the occasional 9/11 joke or ignorant questions about bomb threats in high school, but nothing came close to this. My account of what happened to me in Tel Aviv may seem dramatic, but that’s just what happened. An absolutely humiliating and demoralizing experience.
I arrived at Tel Aviv–Ben Gurion at 11:00 PM after a 24 hour voyage from Boston that included layovers at JFK and in Amman. I was going to do thesis research at the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, where my family and I had worked before in January. The plane landed a bit ahead of schedule, and I was excited that I would be able to get to Aida earlier and see everyone and possibly be awake for Iftar. Unfortunately, I never made it outside the airport.
Everything was fine up until passport control. I went up to the desk, smiled as I always do with strangers, and asked how she was doing. She responded with these questions:
“What is your purpose for travel in Israel?”
“Where will you be touring?”
“Jerusalem, Haifa, Akra, Bethlehem.”
“What is your father’s name?”
“What is your grandfather’s name?”
“Please step to the side.”
I didn’t hold my passport again until almost 20 hours later. I stepped to the side like she asked when an Ecuadorian man approached the passport control counter. He didn’t speak any English, so I offered to translate, hoping that it might tip the scales in my favor in terms of security. It did not. But I’m glad I was able to help him in some way.
A security officer arrived to the passport control desk, telling me to come with her. As always, I smiled and asked how she was doing. She responded by pointing to a small waiting room, where I waited alone until slowly, one by one, other Arabs and Middle Easterners joined.
At this point, I wasn’t worried. I didn’t think they would do any in depth searches of my name on the internet. I didn’t think a lot of things. I was naïve and thought my story was solid. I was staying with family friends in Jerusalem, a physician and a water expert, both Israeli, and had a written invitation in both Hebrew and English from them stating my plans. My mom had packed me a little booklet with this letter and other information regarding Jerusalem and the sights to see there. I thought that I would be fine because of this. If anything went wrong, our family friends would take care of it. My parents would take care of it. Their friends would take care of it. That’s what has always happened.
I waited for over an hour while all the other people were asked to come in and be interrogated. I drowned out the loud Arabic-English chatter with some Lana del Rey, trying to think about something other than how uncomfortable the airport chairs were. I thought not being asked into the security room was a good thing, until I realized that soon thereafter, all of the ones who were interrogated were given their passport and a horrifically fake smile and told to enjoy their trip, as if nothing had happened. One Palestinian man was particularly vocal about how this was clearly racial profiling, and antagonized the security workers whenever they came out from the office.
After a long time, (keep in mind that while Ben Gurion does have free wifi, it is not available in the “security” waiting room) I was called into one of the little interrogation rooms. It was 1:00 AM at this point, 2 hours after the flight from Amman had landed. The woman interrogating me was cold and condescending.
She asked me several questions about my family–where my parents were born, where my maternal and paternal grandparents were born, if I had been to the Middle East before, what my religion was, what I was going to be doing during my stay, if I knew any Israelis, if I knew any Palestinians, if I had ever been to the West Bank, if I spoke Arabic, why I had a second passport, why I was returning to Israel if I had just been there in January. All sorts of questions–I don’t remember them all. She asked me three times if I was certain that my father was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and when I said yes for the third time, she said she knew I was lying. Too bad for her; my papa was born in the Johns Hopkins hospital on October 12, 1958. She said I was lying when I said I was not Muslim. I said no, that I am not religious now but I was raised Catholic, that my great-uncles are monsignors and that my last name means the Eucharist.
She asked me where I would be staying during my trip. I replied in Jerusalem, with our Israeli family friend.
“How do you know her?”
“She’s a friend of my mom’s.”
“When did you meet her?”
“This summer.”
“When did she meet her?”
“This summer.”
“And she’s letting you stay with her?”
“Most people don’t let others stay with them that easily.”
“Well why don’t you call her and hear her reasoning for it?”
I had an invitation from our family friend, who is a physician in Jerusalem, written in both English and Hebrew. I gave the security officer the clear plastic binder my mom had packed me. She looked through it and said:
“Why are you touring again if you were just here in January?”
“Because when we were here in January, the storm Olga hit, and it was hailing in Jerusalem and we didn’t get to see anything.”
“Prove that it was hailing.”
It’s not like I had photos of hail in Jerusalem with me. I told her the internet should do the trick instead, especially considering she probably experienced the storm. But she wouldn’t look it up, just like she wouldn’t call our family friend.
She asked me for the names and numbers of all the Israelis and Arab-Israelis and Palestinians that I knew. When I only gave her 2, she told me to unlock my phone. I had no choice, so I did, and replied to a text from my mama. She immediately asked me in a harsh tone what I was doing and to give her the phone. She took my phone, and did who knows what with it for 10 minutes while she was on HER phone with her friend.
She doubted and questioned every response I gave. When I told her my family was meeting me in Israel in a week, she asked me why I didn’t fly with them. When I told her that it was cheaper, she asked me why I didn’t book with the rest of my family. These questions continued, each one more condescending than the last. She asked me where I was going after Israel and I responded that my family and I were going to Jordan. When she demanded to know how we were getting there, I told the truth, that I didn’t know and it was my parents’ department. She said I was lying again and dismissed me with a wave of her hand, not even looking up.
I walked out of the room, feeling defeated. All the other Arabs that had come into the waiting room with me had been let through. At this point I didn’t care whether or not I got in, I just wanted to be done with this nightmare. It was almost 3 AM–I had been interrogated for 2 hours.
I sat down on my bag against an uncomfortable stone wall so that I could charge my phone. Another American had been there since 11 PM, so we talked about our Middle Eastern heritage and how frustrating this was. His parents were from Afghanistan–he couldn’t believe how long I had been held even though both my parents and I had been born in the states. He was a bit older than me, on vacation from work. It was nice to be able to commiserate with someone, especially someone in such similar circumstances.
Our family friend from Jerusalem called, as well as our friends in the West Bank, all of them wondering what was going on. The friend in Jerusalem, Paula (name changed), wanted to speak with a security officer to find out what was going on. I walked into the office and saw several employees laughing and eating and talking on the phone with their friends. I finally managed to find someone who would talk to Paula on the phone, but the conversation didn’t lead to any new information. All they said was that they weren’t done doing the security check yet. At that point I hadn’t eaten since my layover in Jordan almost 12 hours earlier, so Paula demanded that they bring me food and water.
I was called back into the interrogation room for not even a minute before waiting another hour. The same woman asked me who had written the note on the post-it that was stuck to my clear plastic envelope. I told her my mother had, and pointed out that that’s why it was signed “Mom.” She said “Well I hadn’t read that far yet,” and dismissed me again.
I waited another hour, exhausted and hungry, before I was called back into the room for the last time. The interrogator asked me if I knew what this room was. I guess it was rhetorical, because before I could answer, she said “This isn’t customs. This is a security room to make sure that people like you will not be a threat to Israel.” I asked her dryly what she meant by “people like you,” and she just said “you know what I mean.”
I heard someone call out my name in a thick Hebrew accent and got excited that perhaps I had miraculously made it through security and I was going to get my passport and be told to have a good trip in Israel, but another officer just came into the room to give me a sandwich and a bottle of water. I looked inside and I know beggars can’t be choosers, but it was a cheese sandwich, and I’m lactose intolerant, so I wasn’t about to add to my discomfort. I had to take my medicine though, so I reached into my purse to get it when she snapped and asked what I was doing. Every single action that I did was questioned and scrutinized. Nothing I said was considered the truth. It’s a horrible feeling to know that no matter what you say, you will be doubted and branded as a liar.
The interrogator looked at me with cold eyes and said to me, “You know I know everything, right? I know more than you, and you will answer all of these questions truthfully without fail.”
And so it all came out. That my grandfather was born in Lebanon, that I had been there three times, that my dad grew up there, that I had been to the West Bank. She asked me what I was planning on doing in the West Bank, and I told her about my thesis. She doubted that I was writing a thesis on the sole assumption that undergrads don’t write theses. I finally convinced her once I shared the details and told her that if she had any questions she could contact my thesis advisor. The interrogator told me I could go back to the waiting room, and as I gathered my things I asked her how much longer it would be. She claimed she didn’t know, and I left and sat down in the same chair I had sat in over 5 hours ago.
It was 4:30 AM. I was exhausted and felt dirty, having been in nothing but airplanes and airports the last 30 hours. I asked a girl I recognized from before where the other American guy went, and she said he got through. I asked her where she was from, she said Belgium, so I immediately started speaking to her in French. It was so nice to be able to speak with someone around my own age and to be able to say whatever I wanted without fear that one of the security officers would be able to understand me. She was a very nice girl, named Melodie (name changed)–born and raised in Belgium but both her parents were from Morocco, hence why she was stopped for security. We talked about our backgrounds and our reasons for coming to the Middle East for a long time, until a security officer came up to me and said “Take all the papers out of your bag. We need all of your flight tickets.” I searched frantically and could only find my tickets from Boston to JFK and from Amman to Tel Aviv–not the one from JFK to Amman. I told her I couldn’t find the last one and she said I was lying and to look harder. I eventually just emptied out my purse and gave her all the papers that were in there, regardless of whether they were flight tickets or not. She snatched them and walked away before I realized that one of the papers in there was a note from my doctor saying that the bottle of Inositol powder I had in my carry-on was for medication purposes. I tried running after her to tell her but another security officer wouldn’t let me leave the room all of the sudden. I was confused, because I had been able to leave several times before to go to the bathroom. But then, a different lady emerged from the room, and it was all made clear.
“Okay, you have been denied entry. You–”
“What? I’ve been denied entry?”
“Yes. Now follow–”
“Security reasons.”
“…Can you be more specific? I feel like if I’m being denied entry I should at least know what my crime is.”
“I cannot tell you. It is security. Now wait here until someone escorts you to get your bags, and then you will be deported.”
I forgot all about my doctor’s note and immediately ran back to my chair and started bawling. Melodie hugged me for a long time, which was very comforting as I just felt so alone at the time. I started screaming in French that I hated Israel and that the security officers are racist towards Arabs and Middle Easterners and that I’m a 20-year-old student, what the hell could I do. Despite the tears and rage, I thought to myself that at least I was done being interrogated, and the worst would be over. I had texted my mom a few hours before, and she had replied saying that the worst that could happen is that I would get denied. We were far from right. I was pried from Melodie, demanded to pick up my bags and follow the security officer that had initially led me to the waiting room all those hours ago. We walked through passport control to baggage claim, with everyone looking at me like I was some sort of criminal. 
Once we got to baggage claim, we walked all over until I spotted my bag. I grabbed it and was led back to the entrance and asked to sit. I remembered our family friend being denied entry in January, and how she said she stayed overnight before she flew back out. I asked my ‘escort’ when I would be able to get to sleep, and not looking up from whatever game she was playing on her phone, she said “After you are searched.” I couldn’t believe that there was still more to this nightmare. I asked her when I would be getting searched, and she simply replied “Soon.” I had learned by this point that “soon” meant “whenever we feel like it,” so I wasn’t holding my breath.
Luckily this area of the airport had wifi, so I was able to contact my parents and everyone else that had been worried about me. My mom told me to be courteous to the officers, but there was no way in hell I was going to do that after the way they treated me. I was sobbing as I was typing, and a male security officer started walking towards me. Before he could say anything, I said to him:
“Am I going to get a refund for my flight here? It was expensive.”
“Just be grateful you’re getting a free flight back.”
“If it’s free, then why can’t I just travel straight to JFK from here?”
“Because you need to go back the way you came.”
“Because that is policy.”
I’d later find out that this policy was bullshit, just like all their other “policies.” They just wanted to get me out of Israel and didn’t care what I did after that. But the questions didn’t stop.
“Why did you go through Jordan instead of a direct flight?”
“Because I live in Boston, and there are no direct flights.”
“How did you get to Jordan?”
“Via JFK.”
“Well then why didn’t you take a direct flight to Tel Aviv from JFK?”
“Because it was too expensive.”
“What was the price difference?”
“How am I supposed to know?”
“You can’t give me any number?”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know I was going to be quizzed on price differences.”
“Where are you going after this?”
“Well, I was supposed to go to Jordan with my family for two weeks to tour.”
“Where were you going to tour?”
“I don’t know. Petra. The Dead Sea. My parents know.”
“Petra and the Dead Sea usually just take a day or two to tour, why would you go for two weeks?”
I was tearing up during all these questions, but that last one was asked so condescendingly on his smug face that I just started crying hysterically.
“WHY DO YOU CARE???? What does it matter to you whether I spend two days or two weeks in Jordan??? I’m already being denied entry, STOP interrogating me.”
He just walked away while I continued to cry. I felt incredibly alone and hopeless, and just wanted to go to sleep. It was only 6 AM, but it felt like I had been waiting at baggage claim forever.
My ‘escort’ got up and said “Go.” She had me follow her to this room on the other side of baggage claim, a door that I’m assuming said “Personnel Only” or something in Hebrew. Past the door was a room filled with conveyer belts, security machines, and about 5 security officers. I was asked to bring my bags and put them on the tables. Almost immediately after I did so, I was asked to step into a separate room to be searched. I was made to take off my shoes and sweater and was then patted down by a female security officer. It was fine until she reached my hips. She pulled the waistband open to feel inside. I started shaking as her hands felt around and then moved to the back. I panicked and pulled my waistband tight towards me and my eyes started to well up. She snapped at me to calm down and left the room. I was shaking uncontrollably at this point, and then the woman came back with another female security officer to do a second security check. I asked her to please not touch me around my hips or thighs, and they demanded to know why. But I had no desire to tell them, no desire to mention my PTSD. I just wanted to be left alone. I refused to tell them why, and both of them felt under my waistband again. I had a mild panic attack–I was shaking and sobbing and once they left, I just collapsed in the chair in the little searching room. A different security officer came to get me, as apparently there was a problem with something in my bag.
I had a feeling what the problem was–my Inositol medication. It doesn’t explicitly say that it’s medication; it just says it’s a supplement. The man who interrogated me unnecessarily in baggage claim held it up to my face and asked me what it was.
“Medication for what?”
“I have no obligation to tell you.”
“Well it says here that it is a supplement, so it is not essential.”
“Look, I’m telling you that it’s my medication, and I have to take it 3 times a day.”
“Where does it say this?”
“I have a doctor’s note. Can I get it from my bag?”
He nodded and I rummaged around my small pink purse trying to find the little note I had from my psychiatrist. And then I remembered–all the papers were taken out of my bag. I tried to explain this to the officer, but he said that it could be anything, why should he believe me?
“Why would I lie about needing to take medication?”
“I don’t know. You have lied about other matters, so how do we know you’re telling the truth?”
“I take this medication for OCD. I have my psychiatrist’s contact information–call him if you don’t believe me. But I need to have this with me at all times.”
“Well we can’t let you take this on your carry-on.”
“Why not? It’s a powder, not a liquid.”
“It is policy.”
“It’s bullshit.”
Everything in all of my bags was gone over with a security brush twice. Apparently all liquids in carry-on must be under 50 mL, not 3 fl. oz. When they grabbed my contact solution, I tried reasoning with them.
“I need to take that contact solution in my carry-on.”
“Because I wear contacts.”
“But you are wearing glasses now.”
“Yes, because I have been awake for over 30 hours.”
“Well then why do you need the contact solution?”
“Because at high altitudes, the solution leaks out of the contacts case, and I have to refill it every so often so that the contacts don’t dry out.”
“Why do you need to do this?”
“…so that I won’t be blind.”
“But you have glasses.”
“These are 2-week contacts. They’re brand new. I’m not going to throw them away.”
“Well, you can’t take the solution with you.”
“Fine. Is there anything else that I need that you would like to forbid me from taking?”
Of course, he didn’t answer, and I went to sit back down. They had me pack all my bags up once they finished examining and re-examining them, and I wasn’t allowed to touch the luggage I was going to check. I was exhausted. I was led back to the outside of the initial security waiting room and before long, two Ethiopian men showed up. They told me to come with them. I stopped for a second to text my mom and update her and they snapped at me.
“Do not use your phone.”
“Why not.”
“Because it is policy.”
“I’m texting my mom.”
“Put it away.”
“I’m texting my MOTHER. Don’t tell me that this is policy.”
I glared at them until they gave up and kept updating my mom. Once I was done, they told me to follow them, and I pushed my cart through a little door that led outside. It was bright–the sun had already come up.
We walked to a white van on the street and they grabbed my bags and threw them in the trunk. I sat inside and looked out the window while we drove for 5 minutes, in the vicinity of the airport. Once we pulled up, I could see that it was a white building with bars on all the windows and a cement courtyard. I was made to carry all three of my bags at once, and the men asked me what was taking so long. I responded with a mock apology.
“I’m sorry, it’s just a little difficult carrying three bags at once without any help.”
They ignored me and walked me into the building, one in front of me, one behind me. We went to a room with a lot of luggage, and they told me to leave my bags here. I started to gather some things from my bags, but they said it wasn’t allowed. I finally convinced them to let me take my teddy bear, a photo of my grandpa and me, and my toothbrush. When they weren’t looking, I snuck the small tube of my grandma’s perfume that I had. They examined all the items I was allowed to take, and then we went upstairs. At least it had air conditioning. I was wearing all black and I was hot and sweaty. I asked if I could shower, but one of the men said that it was too late to shower. I had taken my medicine with me as well, but they wouldn’t let me take it into the room. They told me I could leave it at the office outside the room, and when I needed it I could just go and get it, which seemed “reasonable” enough. I later realized that this, like their “policy,” was bullshit.
What happened next was like a scene from a movie. They pushed me into a room and slammed the door behind me. I turned around to ask when my flight to Amman would be, but I quickly realized that there was no door handle and it was locked on the outside. I banged on the door, but there was no response. I surveyed the room and saw writings all over the walls, in several different languages. Most of them said some form of “Free Palestine,” and others criticized Israel and its “democracy.” I noticed that there were 5 bunk beds, 4 of which were occupied by 8 women. The room, obviously not air-conditioned, was disgusting. My nose filled up with the stench of urine and smoke. There was a sink with toothbrushes and hairbrushes and some food, with flies buzzing overhead. The only window in the room was small–and it was covered with some wood panels and bars. I saw a small separate room with a toilet. I sat down on a free bed and realized that the “mattresses” were literally made of duct tape. Entirely made of duct tape, an inch thick. There was an itchy grey blanket with stains on it covering the bed, and no pillow. I wished I’d had my phone with me so I could have taken a picture of the disgusting conditions. I tried banging on the door again so that I could take my medicine, and out of the small window I saw a guard, but he turned around, flipped me off, and walked away.
I lied down and tried to go to sleep, but it was too hot and the smell was overwhelming. I was so glad I snuck my grandma’s perfume in; I was able to get relief from that for a bit. I had no idea what time it was, as I was not allowed to bring my phone. And then I realized that my tax dollars were paying for this. I remember trying to wake up, hoping this was all just a bad dream; a horrible nightmare. But try as I might, what was happening was an unfortunate reality.
I heard voices, and got up to see the women talking and walking around. They sounded like they were speaking Russian and that they all knew each other. I asked them for the time, but only one of them spoke English. It was 7 AM. She asked me why I was here, and I said that they had just said security. Like the others, she was shocked that I was denied entry as an American citizen. She told me that she was supposed to be visiting her boyfriend in Israel, but for some reason they wouldn’t let her in. I never found out for sure if all of the women were traveling together, but it seemed like they all knew each other. They were all from Romania, and they would be there until their flight on Monday. I couldn’t believe that they would have to endure this nightmare for 2 more days.
Most of them got out of bed and one of the women went near the window to have a cigarette, adding to the vomit-worthy smell of the room. I noticed they were all in their bras and panties since it was so hot, and figured it would be okay for me to undress as well. I had been wearing the same clothes for so many hours; I felt gross. It was hot and muggy in the room and I was in all black. Taking my clothes off gave me some relief until I realized that it meant my bare skin would be touching the duct-tape mattress and stained blanket. But I was so hot and sweaty I didn’t care. I tried to get some sleep, but the women in the room had stopped whispering and begun talking loudly, adding to my headache.
I guess I still managed to doze off for a bit though, because the next thing I knew the door was slammed open and a male guard came in. I was mortified–the bed I was resting on was right in front of the door, so the guard very clearly saw me in my bra and thong. What happened next was worse. I didn’t know what was going on, but I saw the other women putting on their clothes, so I started to dress myself as well. And then I noticed that the male guard was still in the room, ogling us. It was disgusting. I asked him to leave, but he just responded, “What’s taking you so long, princess?” I gathered all my things and we were led outside to a “courtyard,” basically a caged in area outside with a cement floor and a few chairs. It was surrounded by a tall chain-link fence. I asked if I could stay outside of the courtyard in the shade, but they said no and pushed me inside, and then locked the gate. I guess this was our allotted “activity time.” I don’t know why I had brought my things with me–I guess I was delusional and thought that I was leaving.
After some time, (5 minutes or a half hour; it didn’t matter), the gate was opened and we were led back inside to our room, the door slammed shut after I walked in. I had no idea when I would be leaving this place, or when my flight back to Jordan would be. I banged on the door, and someone finally answered. I asked if I could make a phone call, and he said it depends.
“Who do you want to call?”
“I’d like to call my parents. They haven’t heard from me in several hours.”
“Where are they?”
“The United States.”
“You can only make phone calls to Israel here.”
“Well then can I use my phone? I can make international calls from it.”
We went downstairs to the luggage room and after a bit more convincing, he allowed me to call my parents, provided I stay in a spot where I was no more than three feet away from him in view of four different security cameras. I spoke with my parents for a few minutes, but I barely remember what I said because I was so delirious. I can’t imagine I said much, seeing as the security guard was literally standing three feet away from me listening to my every word. But it was so calming to hear their voices and to hear someone say “I love you.”
The guard told me my time was up, and I asked if I could call our family friend in Jerusalem. I reasoned that I was supposed to be staying with her, so I should at least be able to tell her what happened. He allowed me to use an office phone for 3 minutes, timed, and I explained as much as I could to Paula. I still had to be cautious as he was listening to this conversation as well. When I was done, we went back upstairs, and he started making small talk with me.
“Are you American?”
“Yes. Can you tell me why I’m here? What did I do wrong?”
“This is a jail. It’s a prison. So if you are here, then you definitely did something to deserve it.”
“Okay, I understand. But what did I do to deserve it?”
“I can check your file if you like. Wait here.”
He came back and said, “There is footage of you with a terrorist.”
“…excuse me?”
“There is footage of you with a terrorist.”
“Um…could you tell me who?”
“I can’t tell you.”
“If I don’t know, and you ‘cannot’ tell me, then it’s clearly bullshit.”
“I cannot give you any more information. You are in jail here because there is footage of you with a terrorist.”
My eyes were already welling up listening to myself be referred to as a criminal. But what he said next made me burst into tears.
“You know that you are banned from Israel for ten years. But this really means forever.”
I couldn’t even say anything after that, I was sobbing so hard. I would never get to go back to Aida camp in Bethlehem and see all of my friends there. I’d never again get to see the neighborhood in Haifa where my grandfather grew up, never be able to set foot on the Haifa beach where he used to spend his afternoons. I would never be able to pay a visit to my great-grandmother’s grave. Never be able to go back to Palestine.
It was a hard pill to swallow.
I walked back into the room still crying and squeezed my teddy bear and the photo of my grandpa. I curled up on the duct tape mattress and reflected on the last 40-something hours of my life. I just wanted to be out of this prison, out of this country, and out of this nightmare.
An hour or so later, I was deported from Israel. I was driven directly to the runway where the security guards literally put me in my seat, and my passport was handed over to a flight attendant. The flight attendants on Royal Jordanian were very nice to me–the one that had my passport ended up being on my flight from JFK to Amman en route to Lebanon a few days ago. Unfortunately, the first thing I had to do once I landed was pay for my flight from Tel Aviv to Amman. “Free flight back,” my ass. I couldn’t get my passport back until I did that. But again, everyone at the Amman airport was very nice to me. I was able to stay at a family friend’s place for the night and it was wonderful. They were so welcoming and caring–just what I needed. It was great to be able to shower, eat real food, and sleep in a real bed for the first time in almost 48 hours. I was able to see Amman too, at least for a few hours at night. It was very active even after midnight due to Ramadan. We went out for some delicious food and tea at a rooftop cafe with some live music, and of course, I had arghile. And the next morning, I headed home to the states, and began writing this on the plane.
When I got back, I felt so hopeless and defeated. It was a horrible experience and I’ve had nightmares about it ever since I got back, waking up in a cold sweat. But after reflecting on it, I am glad that I went through it–only in that it has at least given me a little bit of insight at what many Palestinians go through every day. What happened to me doesn’t even compare. But the last thing I want to do now is back down. I want to share my experience as a chance to let others know that this is only a fraction of what Palestinians endure. The pictures at the bottom are some charts of the judicial system for Palestinians, and infographics of political prisoners. If you are interested in seeing more charts like these, please click here.
All in all, the way I see it, if someone reads this and gains a better understanding of how horrific the occupation is, I am glad that this happened.
If you find this post insightful in some way, please share it.
Thank you very much for reading. This post is dedicated to my grandfather, Amal Kalim Kurban, who taught me to be brave and stand up for what I believe in, to the Palestinians that I know and don’t know who have been subject to the horrors of the occupation, and to Palestine, where my heart is.

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