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Israel bars prominent Palestinian artist from traveling to N.Y. exhibit

Palestinian artist Khaled Jarrar travels regularly to exhibit and discuss his art. This time, the Israeli army simply said no, you can’t go.

Khaled Jarrar

Khaled Jarrar (photo: Susanne Hakuba, courtesy of Gallery Ayyam)

Khaled Jarrar, a prominent Palestinian artist based in Ramallah, was supposed to be in New York by now for an exhibit at the New Museum, a Manhattan hotspot for contemporary art.

Except Israel isn’t letting him go. Jarrar arrived at the Allenby border crossing at 3:00 p.m. yesterday. Rather than cross into Jordan, as he has done many times over the last few years, he was told he could not exit due to “an intelligence order.” After 10 hours spent waiting, he returned home at around 1 a.m. today.

Jarrar, 38, told +972 that dozens of others Palestinians were turned back while he was waiting at the crossing, though many others were let through. He has no idea why he was refused, as he has traveled regularly over the years to exhibit his work, and has never had a problem. He explained:

After a very long wait and without understanding what was happening, I was informed that there are “security reasons” that will prevent me from traveling until the 1st of August. For now, that means that I missed my morning flight from Amman to New York, that I will miss the opening of the show at the New Museum, and that I will miss my ‘artist talk’ with Lamia Joreige and Charif Kiwan, with Natalie Bell, that was supposed to happen on the 16th of July.

Yesterday was the longest day of my life and a day of humiliation. I felt real racism on the part of the security at Allenby Bridge. When this one soldier was talking to his superior officer,  I understood he called me “zevel” [“garbage,” in Hebrew -NY]. I shouted at him that I was no “zevel” and he was impolite to call me that. No one listened to me, like I did not even exist.

Jarrar's "State of Palestine" postage stamp. Among the countries that printed the stamp were Germany, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Belgium and Norway.

Jarrar’s “State of Palestine” postage stamp. Among the countries that printed the stamp were Germany, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Belgium and Norway.

The Allenby Bridge is the only entry and exit point for the Palestinians of the occupied West Bank. It is controlled by Israel, which often closes it to entire categories of Palestinians. During the search for the three Israeli teenagers who were found dead on June 30, Israel imposed a blanket ban on the exit from Allenby of all Palestinians from Hebron—a move condemned as collective punishment by Amnesty International.

Jarrar is a Ramallah-based multimedia artist well known for his “Live and Work in Palestine” project, which created a  a “State of Palestine” passport and postage stamp he designed as an expression of sovereignty and resistance against the occupation. More recently, he made a 70-minute documentary called “Infiltrators,” about the risks taken by Palestinians finding ways around the wall that separates them from both Israel and much of the West Bank. The film, which has received five international awards, will be featured in the New Museum exhibit. This is the trailer:

Jarrar regularly travels internationally on behalf of his art — for a sense of how often, you can see a list of all the festivals that have shown his film here; he  attended most of them. Israeli authorities granted him a permit to travel to Jerusalem for an interview at the American consulate just last month, and he returned from an exhibit in Paris only two weeks ago.

It’s unclear on what security grounds Jarrar was refused exit via Allenby Bridge, leaving him effectively trapped in the territory. It’s also unclear how and whether the general escalation turned him into a threat in the last two weeks following his previous trip, and why exactly he and the people refused with him will cease to be threats on August 1.

+972 Magazine contacted the Civil Administration — the inaptly named branch of the army that controls Palestinian civilian movement— to ask why Khaled and the dozens of others in his situation were refused exit, but so far they have not responded. I’ll update you if they do.

Leaving Palestine: ‘Give ’em something to talk about’

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    1. Danny

      Ah, he’s from Hebron. Now it makes perfect sense. He was turned back because as a Hebronite, it stands to reason that he had something to do with the kidnapping, as did the city’s other 160,000 residents.

      Israel’s Jewish mind at work.

      Reply to Comment
      • GilGamesh

        “Israel’s Jewish mind at work.”

        Careful Danny your mask is slipping.

        Reply to Comment
        • Shlomo

          It’s the Amish running amok in Hebron, doing a kristallnacht on Palestinians?

          Reply to Comment
      • sh

        He’s not from Hebron; he’s based in Ramallah and born in Jenin. But a couple of years ago he was a fixture at crossing points between the PA and its neighbours to offer new arrivals a Palestinian visa he’d designed, which he duly stamped in their passports if they agreed. He said he wanted to welcome people as a Palestinian, especially those who had been through the security grind at Ben Gurion before arriving there. Here’s what the visa looked like.

        Reply to Comment
        • Danny

          I was being facetious. Jarrar’s real crime is that he is a non-Jew who dares to call the ‘Jewish state’ his home. It’s as simple as that, and his punishment is meant to elicit feelings of resentment and humiliation (“zevel”) that will induce him to move permanently to another land. It is part and parcel of a quiet transfer policy that Israel has been conducting now for years, and which has been accelerating in the last couple of years.

          Reply to Comment
    2. Anja de Klerk

      I am sure that all Khaled’s friends from around the world are standing solidly behind him and are speaking out against Israel’s mindless discrimination and oppression. Viva Palestine.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Michèle

      erratum:… three israelis teenagers founded murdered 10 bullets in their head

      Reply to Comment
      • moe

        a lot of people fail to ask, why the Palestinians would have killed those 3 kids? first of all, they would most rather trade them for 10,000 Palestinian prisoners each. second, they know that the Israeli military is cruel and would attack and violate human rights. and third, hamas always takes full responsibility for anything they do but they didn’t take responsibility for this. why?

        Reply to Comment
    4. Amir

      Salam Khaled, as an Israeli citizen I’m very saddened to read about your experience. One’s freedom of movement shouldn’t be limited unless there are very justified reasons and these are made clear. Simply turning you back at the Allenby bridge border makes no sense to me and I truly wonder what were the reasons behind it.

      Using offensive words is stupid and childish and I hope anyone using such words while doing an official role would lose their job over such abuses.

      Please understand that most Israelis do not support such behaviors and shun upon them. In this situation where no country is safe, a lot of people do horrible things. We should all condemn all those that try to lead us on a path of violence and encourage more love and understanding so that we’d be able to finally co-exist in peace.

      Maa salam 🙂

      Reply to Comment
    5. neighbor

      Its becouse of his relation to terror act in israel. should israel let him enter again?
      he can discuss his art online

      Reply to Comment