PALESTINA - BALSAM
AMERICAN PROFESSOR AT BIRZEIT FACING DEPORTATION
When Chivvis Moore landed at Ben Gurion Airport after returning from the States to visit her elderly mother she was told that she would have toleave Israel immediately. When she refused she was placed in a communal cell and held for three days at the airport. She phoned the US Embassy in Tel Aviv and they never rung her back. She phoned the US Consulate in Jerusalem and was told that they do not handle immigration cases. During this time, she was threatened with further detention in Israel and that US policeman would be flown over to escort her back to the United States. When she finally agreed to leave, she was taken to the tarmac of the airplane in a security vehicle. She became unwell on the airplane and the pilot declared her unfit to fly. Now she has a one-month visa and has been told that she will be deported from the place she has lived for over five years.
The Israeli Ministry of Interior said that Chivvis had been teaching at Birzeit University without a work permit and had overstayed her tourist visa. Those wanting to work in the West Bank and Gaza must apply to the Ministry in Israel: the Palestinian Authority has no jurisdiction on immigration matters. Chivvis, who has previously worked at an Israeli university, received no problems getting the permit to work at BZU in the past. Now crucially, it has become a standard procedure to refuse internationals working in the West Bank and Gaza with Palestinian institutions any sort of work permit. This has been since the severing of all ties between the Israeli government and Palestinian Authority. Palestinians with dual nationalities face the same obstruction. Chivvis is keen to stress that she feels that her predicament is in no way comparable to that faced everyday by Palestinians crossing into and out of Israel. She recalls a Palestinian woman in her cell who was not allowed to enter Israel to travel home to the Gaza Strip. She would be forced to return to London, wait 6 hours for a connecting flight to Cairo at her own expense and make the 10 hour bus journey to Rafah in the Gaza Strip. This is a distance of just some 100 miles from Ben Gurion airport. Furthermore, she says that her academic colleagues have sometimes been sent back to Europe to get flights to enter the West Bank from Jordan. Students are also falling victim to the policy of trying to keep the West Bank and Gaza sealed off to visitors and even Palestinians; the International Students program is reporting the denial of visas to students hoping to study at Birzeit University.
> >Dalia Habash
Senior Information Officer