“I was refused entrance because of work I have done in the past with the International Solidarity Movement, a group which supports nonviolent resistance against the Occupation … Four years ago, I spent a month or more working with the ISM. When I left the country, I was questioned and warned that I might have difficulty returning. But I chose to try, anyway. This time my intention was to work with ecological groups, doing permaculture presentations and trainings. I had invitations from three green Isrtaeli organizations, and the assurance of a lawyer that that would be enough to get me in. The lawyer was wrong.”
After spending a day in detention, Starhawk decides to forgo a legal challenge (which could have meant months in detention) and return to the United States.
“In the night I am jolted awake with the conviction that I have made a terrible mistake in abandoning my case. But in the morning, when I might still get word to my lawyer to carry on with it, the cards say over and over again that it is useless, and time to make a strategic retreat. I can’t ever know, really, if they’re right or wrong, if I’ve lost all objectivity, if my own inner sense of agreement with their verdict is accurate or influenced by the stress of going cold turkey from all my usual addictions and comforts: food, tea, exercise, and above all, work. In the end, I have to make some decision, so I decide to go.”
Was Starhawk’s deportation justified? I think not. While the debate rages over whether the ISM is or isn’t a terror-supporting group, Starhawk’s personal motives seem grounded in non-violence and empathy. Further, this trip was in no way connected to political activism (unless you count bioremediation as a political action), and she was invited by Israeli groups to come to Israel. Her deportation, rather than making Israel safer, has only confirmed for some that voices of dissent against government policy are increasingly unwelcome.
NOTE: I understand that merely invoking the name of Starhawk (especially in the context of Israel) can cause heated political discussion, so I’m asking that commenters keep things civil and respectful. Strong opinions are fine, ad hominem attacks are not.