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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 November 2018

Palestinian-American writer denied entry to Israel

Novelist Susan Abulhawa was planning to attend a West Bank literary festival

Palestinian-American writer Susan Abulhawa. Courtesy social media
Palestinian-American writer Susan Abulhawa. Courtesy social media

A Palestinian-American writer was banned entry by Israeli authorities because she didn’t coordinate her arrival in advance.

Novelist Susan Abulhawa was planning to attend a literary festival in the West Bank when she was barred from entering Israel at Tel Aviv airport on Thursday, according to the country’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority.

Israeli authorities sought to deport her on the grounds that she did not have a visa. The authorities said that after she was barred from entering the country in 2015, she was told she would need to arrange permission in advance to travel to Israel.

Ms Abulhawa is a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to promote non-violent punitive measures against Israel for its breaches of international law in relation to the Palestinians.

Last year Israel enacted a law prohibiting entry to foreign supporters of the BDS movement.

Ms Abulhawa had been travelling to attend the Kalimat Palestinian Literature Festival in Ramallah, which is sponsored in part by the British Council and British research group The Kenyon Institute.

Both groups offered support to Ms Abulhawa during her detention. Ms Abulhawa initially challenged the deportation order and was scheduled to see a judge on Friday evening.

The judge asked her lawyer whether her participation was “essential” to the festival, Mondoweiss reported. The judge was told that the festival was “dependent in great part on her being there.”

Regardless, Ms Abulhawa was deported on a return flight to the US.

“For a conference on Palestinian Literature to take place without the participation of a foremost, internationally recognised Palestinian author is a travesty and a suppression of Palestinian culture,” friend Linda Hanna wrote via Ms Abulhawa’s Facebook account.

Ms Abulhawa, 48, lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania but comes from a Palestinian family that lived in Jerusalem for centuries.

Her critically acclaimed 2010 debut Mornings in Jenin, a sweeping multi-generational family saga, was the first major novel in English to explore life in post-1948 Palestine. It became an international best-seller and was translated into 28 languages.

Ms Abulhawa is also the founder of an NGO, Playgrounds for Palestine that advocates for Palestinian children.

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