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Israel fighting 'delegitimisation campaign'

As outrage grows in US campuses over Israeli policies towards Palestinians, Israel seems to be fighting back.

Last modified: 12 Feb 2010 11:14
AFP photo

Harvard University's well-known law school, or HLS, was the intellectual training ground for US President Barack Obama (HLS 91'), who through his high marks became editor of the Harvard Law Review.

Obama might find it interesting to know the miles some HLS students have to travel to become expert in their field - only to be turned back.

Consider the case of 3rd year law student Hebah Ismail, who is putting the finishing touches on her studies with Harvard's International Human Rights Clinic.

Like Obama, Hebah entered Harvard law already a world traveller.  The US citizen of Egyptian extraction landed at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion recently to study land disputes facing the Arab Bedouin community.

But airport security officials weren't having it. 

According to the Harvard paper, Hebah's laptop and cell phone were seized and searched. But that wasn't satisfying enough, so an ultimatum was delivered:  log us into your email accounts, or you will be deported and banned from ever entering Israel.

Hebah refused and faced the consequences. She was put on a plane back to the States, unable to conduct her research.

Al Jazeera has reported about how Israeli authorities have been denying NGO workers access into Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Yesterday I wrote that Israel might not be prepared to counter the growing American campus outrage over its policies towards the Palestinians. 

But connecting the dots, it is clear this is how they intend to fight back. 

A new study flagged in this Israeli newspaper warns that Israel is facing a global delegitimisation campaign.

The prestigious Reut Institute, which issued the report, is headed by an erudite mover-and-shaker named Gidi Grinstein, a lawyer who also attended Harvard.

The Reut Study is comprehensive, and deserves reading in full.  But I seriously doubt Grinstein (whom I've known for nearly a decade) would advocate deportation of visiting scholars and field researchers who refuse to let Israeli cybersleuths sign into their Harvard/Gmail acccounts.

On the positive side, at least US immigration officials welcomed Hebah home without incident.

Good thing she wasn't carrying Arabic flash cards.