This is an email I was sent from Annemarie Jacir, she is a Palestinian film director who shared with us her experience of being denied entry.
—– Forwarded Message —-
From: Annemarie Jacir
Sent: Wednesday, April 30, 2008 7:52:52 AM
Subject: Denied Entry
I have been looking forward to this week for months now – it was to be one of the most important moments for me – the world premiere of my feature film “milh hadha al- bahr” (Salt of this Sea) in Palestine.
The premiere was to take place in Amari Refugee camp in Ramallah, with the cast and crew, the people who helped make this film happen, who believe in it, to be in attendance. An outdoor screening and an occasion to share the completion of a project which has been the result of a five-year struggle. What made this event so special was that it is also a big celebration for us – that we received the incredible news that the film was selected for the Cannes Film Festival as an Official Selection.
As you may know, the Israeli Authorities have not allowed me to return to Palestine for 9 months now. Because of this we were not able to film a main scene of the film and in the end, the scene had to be shot in Marseille, France. My lawyer has been working now for eight months on the issue of my return home. So for the premiere of the film, I also had an invitation from the French Consulate in Jerusalem, who have been supporters of the film, and the International Art Academy of Ramallah were co-sponsoring the screening. There was nothing I was looking forward to more than finally being back in Palestine and sharing the film.
From Amman, Jordan, I took the bus to the Allenby bridge (Sheikh Hussein) in order to cross the Jordanian border and enter the West Bank. I arrived at the bridge at 10 in the morning. The Israelis held me there for six hours, during which time I was interrogated approximately five times. In the beginning I was made to wait in the main room with all the other people crossing. After some time, I was taken to another section in the back, separated from the others, and spent the remaining period of my time waiting there alone. Every now and then people would come in and out of a door, sometimes to ask me questions, sometimes just on their way somewhere else. My telephone was taken from me.
At the end, I was then taken to the general room once more and asked to sit and wait. After about 20 minutes, a woman in a blue uniform (the others wore a different uniform), came towards me with my passport in her hand and four security agents behind her. She handed me my passport and said, “The Israeli Ministry of Interior has denied you entry.” I asked if a reason was given. She said, “You spend too much time here.” I was then deported – escorted by two of the agents out of the terminal and onto a bus back to Jordan.
I got on the bus. I felt like my legs weren’t strong enough to carry me.