After eight hours of traveling, three Swedish citizens—Lama Abu-Isefan, Salam Abu-Iseifan and Samaa Sarsour—were deported from Israel this morning. A fourth Swede, Tigran Feiler, was allowed in, but only after being forced to promise not to visit any Palestinian territories. All of the deported people are participants in a peace project with the goal of building bridges between Jews and Palestinians, and to provide hope for a peaceful solution to this seemingly unsolvable conflict.
On Wednesday night, a group of young Swedes of Jewish and Palestinian descent traveled to Israel to participate in a field trip within the framework of the “Let’s Talk About Peace” project. The peace project gathers young Swedes of Jewish and Palestinian descent, and has them give lectures in Swedish upper secondary schools.
Upon arrival at the Ben-Gurion airport in Tel Aviv (Israel), the three Swedish women and one of the Jewish participants were taken away for interrogation. The interrogations went on for eight hours. The Swedish citizens were interrogated in separate rooms, with no lawyer or authorized interpreter present. During that time, another one of the Jewish participants was taken back to passport control for interrogation.
The remaining three participants maintained continuous contact with the Swedish Embassy in Tel Aviv throughout the interrogations. Despite those efforts, the three Swedish women were deported. The only explanation offered was “security reasons”. After more than eleven hours, the Swedish citizen of Jewish descent was allowed entry, on the condition that he sign a document stipulating that he is forbidden to enter the Palestinian territories. He was also forced to pay a deposit of 5,000 Israeli shekels (approximately 1,400 US dollars). He signed the document under protest. “I signed it under duress. I see it as an attempt to constrain me, to prevent me from meeting Palestinians. There is no other purpose than to destroy exactly what our project is trying to achieve—building bridges and dialog,” says Tigran Feiler.
The purpose of the “Let’s Talk About Peace” project is to battle prejudices, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and to provide Swedish youth with a deeper, more personal description of the Israel/Palestine conflict. So far, the “Let’s Talk About Peace” project has reached out to nearly Swedish students, and it has obtained support from, among others, the Schools and Education Division of Stockholm and the Olof Palme Memorial Fund, as well as having been awarded by the Helena Bering memorial fund.
So the final result of this peace project was that all of the Palestinian participants were deported. “How can we create a dialog for peace when one side is not even allowed to speak?” asks Ronnie Liebech, one of the participants.