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Thread by @rezaaslan: "(THREAD) Peter’s experience has spurred me to share mine. 2 weeks ago, as I was crossing back into Israel from Jordan, I was separated from […]"

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(THREAD) Peter’s experience has spurred me to share mine.

2 weeks ago, as I was crossing back into Israel from Jordan, I was separated from my family and detained by Shin Bet. “We can make it so you don’t see your kids for a long time” I was warned.

This is what happened next
The Shin Bet lady, who already knew everything about me and my family’s journey around the world, began with “You think because you’re a public person I can’t do whatever I want with you?”

I was floored. This is how interrogations begin in police states.
“Why do you hate Israel?” She asked.

“I don’t hate Israel,” I replied.

“But you hate our Prime Minister.”

“I’m sorry is your Prime Minister Israel?”

“He was democratically elected!” (No he wasn’t but let’s just drop that)

“So was Trump and I hate him and still love America.”
“Oh I know all about you and Trump,” she spat.

I forgot the Israeli Right Wing’s affection for our racist Neo-Nazi loving president.

“You don’t think Israel should exist yes?”

That’s absurd. I’m against the occupation not Israel.

Then the police state part began in earnest
Write down names of Palestinians you know

Write down names of journalists you associate with

Write down names of Palestinian organizations you support

And constantly, repeatedly, this threat: “if you don’t cooperate it will be a long time before you see your kids again.”
I tried to cooperate the best I could. It was 104 degrees. My wife, my two 6yr olds, my 3yr old, and I my two elderly in-laws had been waiting for me in the sun for hours.

But (again the police state tactic): every answer I gave she told me was lie.

“Stop lying!” She’d yell.
The questions got dumber and more surreal:

“Who did your father work for in Iran?”

I don’t know. I was 7 when we left

“Oh Mr Scholar! You can tell me everything about the Ottoman Empire but you don’t know your own father’s history?”

For the record I am not an Ottoman scholar.
In the end, after hours of this, she warned “I may let you into Israel but, who knows, I may not let you out. I will keep you here and kick out your family. It depends on you. You would miss your kids yes?”

That my friends is the classic police state trick. Iran has perfected it
Her final warning was not to visit the Palestinian Territories. Not to meet with or speak to any Palestinians or any Israeli trouble makers.

“We are watching you.”

2 days later I went to Bethlehem, to the wall, and took this picture:
Two days after that, the Italian artist who painted this portrait of Ahed Tamimi was arrested and deported.

This was my 4th trip to Israel in ten years and every time it’s gotten worse. It’s becoming unrecognizable as a democracy. It is becoming a full-blown police state.
And it can’t last.

When I was released my evangelical in-laws were in shock.

“I had no idea it was like this,” they said. Now they do. So do more Americans each day. And if Israel loses them, who will continue to shield it from pressure to change course?

The clock is ticking
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