Palestinian-American Quaker from Glen Carbon deported from Israel

Sandra Tamari, a Quaker, mother of two, and member of the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee, was detained at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport last week and aggressively questioned for over eight hours before being taken to a detention center and deported back to the United States. During questioning, Israeli security demanded she open her personal email account and accused her of being a terrorist.

Requesting help from the US Embassy, Tamari – a US citizen – was immediately asked if she is Jewish. When told that she was Palestinian, Tamari was advised they could do nothing for her.

“I found it curious that the first question the U.S. Embassy staff asked me is, ‘Are you Jewish?’  It gave me the impression that the support they could provide to me was based on my answer.  When I told the Embassy that I was a Palestinian American with family in the West Bank, they told me they could do nothing to help me.  Has the U.S. adopted Israel’s racial and religious profiling tactics to discriminate against Arabs and Muslims?”

Tamari, a vocal advocate for Palestinian rights and the ending of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory, was attempting to travel to Israel and the occupied West Bank to participate in an interfaith delegation involving Palestinians and Israelis working for peace and coexistence.  She was recently involved in the campaign urging the United Methodist church to adopt selective divestment from companies that profit from the occupation, co-authoring a widely circulated op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times last month during the United Methodists’ General Conference. It seems clear that Israel’s treatment of Tamari is related to her work on behalf of Palestinian rights.

Israel regularly discriminates against Palestinian Americans attempting to enter Israel and the West Bank, denying them entry while allowing Jews from the US and elsewhere to travel freely. The St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee urges the State Department and elected US officials to address this blatant discrimination based on religion and ethnicity with their Israeli counterparts.

Tamari will be addressing her deportation this week with the offices of Rep. John Shimkus, Senator Richard J. Durbin, and Senator Mark Kirk.

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