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The judges of the Deportation Service
By: Gideon Spiro
10 October 2010
To the Honourable Dorit Beinish, Asher Grunis, Neal Handel
Judges of the Supreme Court
Rami Amir, Judge of the Central District Court
The State of Israel has adopted a procedure that is characteristic of totalitarian states, according to which people who have been tagged as critics of the regime are barred from entering the State. The list of those who have been denied entry into Israel keeps growing, and recently the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire was added to it. In late September 2010 she went to Israel with a delegation of female Nobel Peace Prize winners as a guest of an association of Israeli and Palestinian women, for the purpose of advancing dialogue and peace. Mairead Maguire was separated from the delegation and put into the airport jail for people who are forbidden to enter Israel. Israel and the generals’ junta that cruelly rules Burma are two states that throw Nobel Peace Prize laureates into jail. Even fundamentalist Iran has exhibited more openness towards Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate who is unsparing in her criticism of the regime.
Mairead Maguire petitioned the courts against her deportation through the human rights organization Adala. The first deliberation took place with Judge Rami Amir of the District Court in Petah Tikvah (1 October 2010) and since he rejected her petition she appealed to the Supreme Court (4 October 2010), which rejected her appeal.
It is a pity: you were given an opportunity to show a more enlightened face than that of the government, but you failed. Instead of dealing with the substance of the matter – whether the issuance of a removal order by the Minister of the Interior against a critic of the government’s policy is consistent with the State’s pretension to be democratic – you acted like obedient functionaries and moved ahead with the formalities.
Mairead Maguire received a removal order of 10 years’ duration from the Minister of the Interior for her participation in the voyage of the Rachel Corrie boat that was on its way to Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid to the besieged. The boat was stopped in the open sea by the navy in early June 2010 and taken to the Ashdod port. Mairead Maguire found herself in Israel against her will. As if it were not enough that she was effectively abducted and forced to go to Israel, she was also punished for that with a removal order. Is that the way a democratic state behaves?
Instead of discussing that, you preferred to act like the long arm of the Minister of the Interior, a benighted man, a homophobe, a proponent of the deportation of children who were born in Israel just because they are not Jews, who slandered migrant workers and asylum seekers by saying that they spread diseases, similar to the atrocious Nazi propaganda against Jews who were described as sewer-rats who spread diseases. It is but natural that such a man would also bar the entry to Israel of a woman of peace who dedicated her life to building bridges between enemies and whose trip to Israel was part of that mission. Instead of being allies of Maguire, you preferred to take shelter under the umbrella of the benighted Minister of the Interior Eli Yishai and his racist ally Avigdor Lieberman. For that you are worthy of hoots of contempt.
I know Mairead Maguire from many joint activities over many years. I was together with her in an international delegation that reached Gaza in the flotilla October 2008, which included doctors and medical supplies, and I can attest to her good faith. She says to the leaders of the Hamas administration in Gaza what she says in Israel or in Ireland: that Israelis and Palestinians need to overcome the hostility between them and to find a way to live in peace with each other.
Like me, she was astounded at the cruelty of the Israeli blockade, as we witnessed during a visit to the Shifa hospital in Gaza, where we saw an MRI machine that was not functioning because Israel did not permit the entry of replacement parts. We saw how that increased the suffering of the patients, and we were unable to help. (You can read my impressions from the visit to Gaza in the “Gaza Diary” I wrote, which has been published in several Internet sites
She is critical of the Occupation, believes that it is the cause of grave violations of human rights, and that peace and Occupation cannot coexist at the same time. That is also believed by hundreds of thousands of Israelis and millions of people all over the world. You, Dorit Beinish, stated in the judgement that Mairead Maguire had not come to Israel for friendly purposes. That is not the case. Indeed her visit was not friendly to the policies of the government, but it was very friendly to human rights activists, both Israelis and Palestinians.
I have participated in more than a few actions of protest in other countries, and I was not barred from entering them. In the democratic world it is understood that the right to protest also applies to those who are not citizens of the state, for after all, many problems transcend the narrow confines of the nation-state. That is one of the hallmarks of the global village.
Former prime minister Menachem Begin said in his time that anti-Semitism is not the internal problem of any one country, and that every person in the world with a conscience, whether Jewish or not, has the right to protest against it. At the height of the struggle to open the gates of emigration for the Jews of the Soviet Union, which was conducted under the slogan “Let my people go,” Israel encouraged non-Jewish people to participate in the struggle, correctly claiming that it was a human rights issue that transcended geographical, religious and national borders. Catholic and Protestant people of religion all over the world joined in the struggle and the government of Israel, as well as the Jewish communities, welcomed it.
The same applies to the issue of the Occupation that Israel has been maintaining for 43 years. The violations of human rights that are happening in the Occupied Territories at the hands of the Israeli regime are not an internal affair, and all proponents of human rights are entitled to come here to express their opinions and to participate in protest. Mairead Maguire’s deportation from Israel is a denial of her basic rights to freedom of movement and freedom of expression.
The deportation has implications for citizens of Israel. For if the opinions of Mairead Maguire are grounds for deportation, and the highest courts of justice bowed their heads in submission to that, who then will stop the slide down the slippery slope when the Yishai-Lieberman duo or others like them decide to expel Israeli citizens too, because of their identification with Mairead Maguire’s criticisms?
My advice to you is to reconsider your position one more time and to permit this beloved woman to enter Israel.
Hoping for better days,
Cc: the Attorney-General
Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent
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