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British academic denied entry to the West Bank

Written by admin  •  Wednesday, 28.04.2010, 00:00

Translated from Ofri Ilani’s article in Haaretz (Hebrew version)

The defense system prohibited the entry of British Gender Researcher into the West Bank. Dr. Nicola Pratt from the University of East Anglia arrived at Allenby Crossing from Amman on Thursday to lecture at Birzeit University near Ramallah.

According to her statement, she was investigated by the security authorities at the border crossing and was asked to explain why she is interested in visiting the area. She was also asked to provide the authorities with the telephone numbers of her acquaintances in the West Bank. She was required to report on demonstrations in Britain that she participated in and explain why she speaks Arabic. After a 5 hour wait, the authorities decided to refuse her entry to Israel.

Dr. Pratt is an expert on Human Rights Issues and the status of Women in the Arab World. Amongst other things, she wrote articles on the persecution of homosexuals in Egypt. Recently, she asked the United States and Europe to stop aid to Israel and suspend trade agreements in order to pressure Israel to cease the building of settlements and dismantle the wall in the West Bank. Dr. Pratt also supports the academic boycott on Israel.

The Shabak concluded from the interrogation that “It is impossible to substantiate the reasons for her arrival. The findings from the investigation were passed onto the Ministry of Interior who decided to refuse her entry to Israel”.

It is impossible to obtain a response from the Interior Ministry until the impoundment of the case.

Letter sent by Dr. Nicola Pratt to the Guardian UK

Dear Sir,

In December and January The Guardian published news and letters concerning the effects of the Israeli blockade and military action on schools and universities in the Gaza Strip. But not only Gaza is at stake. As a lecturer in international relations at the University of East Anglia, whose research concerns gender and security, I was invited by the Institute for Women’s Studies at Birzeit University in the West Bank, to speak to staff and students on 22 April and I also hoped to discuss with Institute staff the strengthening of academic links. At the Allenby Bridge crossing from Jordan, the Israeli authorities questioned me at length: who had invited me? Whom did I see in Jordan? Had I participated in demonstrations in Britain, visited other Arab countries, and did I speak Arabic? After five hours, the authorities refused me entry. Israeli authorities are preventing Palestinian academics from having contacts with their international colleagues, enforcing a de facto blockade of West Bank universities. This makes a mockery of Israel’s claims to be upholding ‘academic freedom’.

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