This denial will not scare me, we will continue the work’ : Israel bars Bisan Center’s Ubai Aboudi from traveling to North America

| Michael Arria pour Mondoweiss |

Ubai Aboudi was detained by Israeli forces as he attempted to enter Jordan bound for the World Social Forum in Mexico. Aboudi was also scheduled to go on a speaking tour in the United States.


Ubai Aboudi, the Executive Director of Bisan Center for Research & Development, was detained by Israeli forces while attempting to enter Jordan. Aboudi was on his way to attend the World Social Forum in Mexico.

In October 2021 the Israeli government designated the Bisan Center, and five other Palestinian human rights groups, as terrorist organizations. Israel has yet to provide any proof for these claims, but they did supply The White House with the alleged evidence at the time. Over six months later, the Biden team still hasn’t commented on the content of that information. Earlier this week, State Department spokesman Ned Price said that the administration was still reviewing it.

Aboudi documented his experience in a Twitter thread :

Apartheid Israel today denied me exit to participate in World Social Forum in Mexico. I was supposed to take part in the panel about RESISTANCE IN THE VOID : SECRET EVIDENCE, SPYWARE AND TERRORIST DESIGNATIONS. THE BATTLE FOR GLOBAL CIVIL SOCIETY BEGINS IN PALESTINE.

Although its been exactly one month since my last travel (29th of March 2022) No reason was given to why i was denied, my repeated demands to be given a reason or to talk to a senior officer were met with refusal.

I had booked tickets to Mexico and to the United States to participate in events and speaking tours to help expose human rights violations and connect with Other Human Rights Defenders and activists to coordinate and challenge the status quo.

As a Palestinian you have no rights in the eyes of #ApartheidIsrael. Even if you have an American citizenship. Of course my ordeal is much lighter than that of Omar Asad. [the 80-year-old Palestinian-American who eyewitnesses say was blindfolded, gagged, handcuffed, and left to die at a checkpoint]

All these Human Rights Violations would not happen if it were not for the complicity of governments and officials that are refusing to hold #ApartheidIsrael accountable for its crimes. This denial will not scare me, we will continue the work.

The human rights attorney Katherine Gallagher tweeted at Secretary of State Tony Blinken. “A US citizen has just been denied the right to travel & freedom of movement by Israel. What steps are you taking to protect rights of Ubai Aboudi, who has been targeted as a Palestinian-American Human Rights defender ? #StandWithThe6

This isn’t the first time that Aboudi has found himself targeted over his group’s human rights work. Last year it was revealed that he was one of six people working for Palestinian NGOs whose phones were hacked with Pegasus, spyware developed by the Israeli technology firm NSO Group. Israel’s terror designations were announced shortly after news of the hack was reported by the group Frontline Defenders. The Biden administration placed sanctions on NSO, but the Israeli government has been lobbying to have them dropped.

“We know what repression looks like. Smearing human rights defenders and spreading propaganda to delegitimize their work,” tweeted U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights Executive Director Ahmad Abuznaid at the time. “Surveilling activists and journalists who dare to expose the truth. All the while continuing to commit human rights violations on a daily basis. The Israeli regime is a separate-and-unequal apartheid state employing every last authoritarian tactic at its disposal, but we know the truth : that liberation is coming and Palestine will be free.”

On May 22 Israel will begin imposing stricter rules on foreigners entering the West Bank, a move that’s seen as a way for the country further control Palestinians. Foreign-passport holding Palestinians will be required to provide Israel with the names and national ID numbers of relatives and friends they plan to stay with. “It’s a surveillance exercise,” Al Shabaka policy analyst Marwa Fatafta told Al Jazeera. “With the new policy, Israeli authorities want to map out the social circles and property of Palestinians who live abroad with foreign passports. The entire identification system is built to control the most two crucial aspects of Palestine : people and land. Now, in a way, it will also apply to Palestinians with ties to the West Bank.”

When asked about the new rules at a State Department briefing this week Ned Price said he was “not immediately familiar with them.”