A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil, that good may come of it... We are too ready to retaliate, rather than forgive... And yet we could hurt no man that we believe loves us. Let us try then what love will do: for if men did once see we love them, we should soon find they would not harm us. Force may subdue, but Love gains: and he that forgives first, wins the laurel.
William Penn

Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone...
George Fox

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Denied entry... sigh... again

Getting off the ramshackle bus from Dahab, an Italian man and his girlfriend asked if I'd like to share a taxi to the Israeli border. I told them the border crossing was only 800 meters away, but I would take the number 15 bus with them to Eilat once we were through.
As we walked the 800 meters together, we chatted a bit. They had recently come from Jordan, which they had enjoyed much more than Egypt. I told them about the incredible hospitality I'd enjoyed when in the north of Italy, where they were from, and like all the Italians I'd met from the north, they couldn't believe it; only the south of Italy was able to produce real hospitality, they said.
Then I told them I'd been denied entry into Israel once before, in Haifa. I explained what I thought were the reasons why. I suggested that maybe we should go through the border crossing separately, so no one would think we were going to be together in Israel.
After getting through the Egyptian side of the crossing, they took my advice by speeding ahead of a large Korean tourist group. I fell behind, and that was the last I saw of them.

Getting into Israel through Taba seemed like it would be a pleasant experience, compared to the shipboard experience I had in Haifa. The security people at Taba all seem to have been selected for their appearance and social skills. There were lots of smiles as I was asked to show my passport or have my bag x-rayed. The border control building was cool, air conditioned perhaps, and I drank water from a cold water fountain, which is something I haven't done in ages.
My passport had already been stamped to enter Israel when I had one more desk to check in at. The same question I'd answered several times was asked by a somewhat less pleasant woman.
"Why are you coming to Israel?"
I gave the same answer.
"To work for an NGO in Negev, and to visit Eilat and Be'er Sheva."
But this time, instead of being moved on, the woman picked up a phone and called her superior. Her superior turned out to be a very pleasant woman. She had a look at my e-mailed letter of invitation from the NGO, then did a little searching on the computer.
"What happened in Haifa?" she asked.
"Here we go," I thought.
"It was implied that I didn't have enough money," I said.
"How much did you have?"
"About 300 dollars."
"How much do you have now?"
"A little less than 300 dollars."
We both laughed.
"But," I added, "last time I wanted to stay for three months. This time only for three weeks and I'm being hosted the entire time by this NGO."
Surely she would accept this.
"Please sit down here," she said, not accepting it, and indicating a chair near a closed door. But she smiled, the way a mother smiles at a naughty child. I took this as a good sign. Sympathy.
As I waited I watched as the last of the Korean group passed through the last obstacle and through the gate into Israel. I was so close. A security man near the gate told me I could go get something to eat if I liked, or go have a smoke in the smoking area on the balcony. With so much hospitality, I didn't mind waiting for the interrogation soon to come. At the balcony a sliding glass door opened automatically, and I stepped on to a deck overlooking the Gulf of Aqaba. A catamaran full of tourists glided by. I almost expected a waiter to step out for my order. Then the supervisor came to fetch me. It was time.
The questioning was a pleasant affair, despite the denial that I felt was coming. Only the man sitting behind the supervisor was unpleasant. He stared with cold, blue eyes.
Most of the questioning had to do with my lack of money, but I was asked about my walk for peace.
"And how will helping to renovate a Bedouin children's center make peace?" I was asked.
I explained as if to a child.
"Helping those at the bottom of a social structure is the foundation for peacemaking..."
Then, a pause, and the supervisor gently began to tell me the bad news.
"If I came into your country without any money, they wouldn't like it, would they?"
"But I'm only staying three weeks, and being hosted by this NGO..."
The man with the glaring eyes interjected. "You can't just wander around Israel for three months without money," he said.
"But, I have hosts, and this NGO, and only three weeks..."
"I'll check with my supervisor, but don't expect much," said the pleasant lady. She gazed at me sorrowfuly.
"Okay," I said, pouting.
While waiting in my chair outside the office, the pleasant supervisor came out to ask another question.
"How long have you spent in Egypt?"
"About two months."
Back into  the office she went. A few minutes later she called me back in.
"I'm sorry, " she said. "I have to refuse you."
She was very apologetic, and while escorting me back through the building, she explained that because of Haifa, she couldn't let me into Israel. As she opened the blue iron gate, she wished me the best of luck, again with the sorrowful face, or perhaps with the face of a kind woman who's putting the puppy outdoors after it's pooed on the rug. I could have hugged her. Then she slammed the gate. Ahead of me was a sign, "Welcome to Egypt."
I sighed heavily and plodded forward.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my god! Very sad news! Can`t believe how much governments are afraid of peace! Stay strong