CPT Worker Denied Entry into Israel
This action by the Israeli government against American nonviolence activists applies a long-threatened policy departure, not exercised in recent years. I believe that it represents both an increase in intransigence and fear on the part of the Israeli government. It certainly warrants protest from American groups, along with Israeli and Palestinian peace and human rights organizations. It also makes a worthy news item for any media sources to which you may have access.
Peace. John Worrell
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL -- Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) member Wendy Lehman of Kidron, Ohio was denied entry into Israel yesterday. Israeli authorities informed her at the airport in Tel Aviv that she would not be allowed to enter the country and they put her on a return flight to the U.S. via Canada. She is expected to arrive in Chicago later today (Thursday).
Lehman, a US citizen was to have joined CPT's team in the West Bank town of Hebron for three months. A veteran of the Hebron team, Lehman has spent 18 of the past 24 months working to reduce violence in the midst of increasing tensions between Palestinians and Israeli settlers there. She was arrested on a number of occasions for nonviolently acting to prevent the confiscation of Palestinian land and the demolition of Palestinian homes by Israeli authorities.
U.S. Consulate representatives in Jerusalem were reportedly not surprised by the action and speculated that it may now be Israel's policy to turn others away as well.
"This event will not deter CPT's commitment to peacemaking work in Hebron", said Kathy Kern a veteran member of the Hebron Team. "Wendy Lehman's return is a serious disappointment. We need people with her kind of experience in the field. But we know that this is one of the risks we take in this work and we will send others to join the team there."
Current members of the Hebron team are Mark Frey (N. Newton, KS), Anne Montgomery (Brooklyn, NY), and Sara Reschly (Tucson, AZ).