Denied entry, S.F. activist may seek return to Israel with family

Jewish San Francisco activist Jamie Spector was barred from entering Israel on Friday, July 23. But she hopes to travel to the Holy Land again, and next time, it may be a family affair.

“Of course we want to go back to Israel. And we want to go back as a family,” said Spector’s mother, Annette.

“And we hope we can all get in.”

Spector, 32, a member of the International Solidarity Movement and a San Francisco social worker, is currently in Italy visiting her sister, Alli, who raised much of the money for Spector’s Israeli lawyers. She hopes to return to the United States by early August.

Israeli authorities deemed Spector a security threat when she landed at Ben-Gurion Airport on July 10, and they detained her. She fought the decision, but lost. Her case has been extensively reported on pro-Palestinian Web logs, and mentioned in the mainstream press as well.

“I’m extremely disappointed and mainly outraged at the undemocratic court procedures,” said Spector’s mother, a resident of Falls Church, Va.

The elder Spector criticized the Israeli prosecutors’ use of so-called “secret evidence” in court. “She was going to visit relatives who live there, and they were very supportive of her during the trial. One relative had no idea about this secret evidence business. He was outraged when he was waiting for the prosecution to reveal any of the evidence they had and they didn’t.”

Her daughter was planning only to go “sight-seeing, visit relatives and peacefully and nonviolently protest against the separation wall,” said Annette Spector.

She said Jamie Spector visited Israel a year or two ago to assist Palestinian farmers with their olive harvest, a trip that had “absolutely no instances, no confrontation of any kind.”

The deportation caught Spector’s ISM colleagues off-guard. One San Francisco activist — who declined to give her name as she intends to “travel to Palestine” in the near future — said she and others were expecting Spector to be granted conditional entry into Israel with restrictions placed on her travel and the placement of a hefty deposit (to be forfeited if she flouted those restrictions). That was the case with another recently detained ISM activist, Anne Robinson-Petter. Spector, however, was not granted conditional entry.

While the ISM claims to be a nonviolent movement, the Israeli government says it aids and shelters terrorists.

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi is the managing editor at Mission Local. He is a former editor-at-large at San Francisco magazine, former columnist at SF Weekly and a former J. staff writer.