Report: Americans Required By Israeli Security To Give Access To Their Personal Email Accounts At Airport

This report in Haaretz details a highly disturbing account of how Israel’s Shin Bet security service interrogated American citizens with Arab backgrounds for hours and demanded access to their personal email accounts at Ben Gurion Airport. After spending a night in custody, they were denied entry into Israel in May. If these accounts are true, why has there been no formal and public objection from the Obama Administration?

Najwa Doughman, a 25-year-old architect from New York, was visiting Israel for the third time. She was traveling with a friend, Sasha Al-Sarabi, 24. Both women have Palestinian roots and were taken into custody for extensive searches and prolonged interrogation. They recount how security officials demanded to know why Najwa would return to Israel, whether she felt “more Arab or more American?” and whether she wanted to visit Al-Aqsa.

The security officials demanded her access code and proceeded to read out load her email conversations about Israel and other subjects.

The account details highly abusive treatment of Americans by a country that still receives billions in aid from the United States. That money comes from all of our citizens, including those with Arab backgrounds. If this account is true, there should be a public demand for answers from the State Department, but there has been total silence from the Obama Administration. The silence is as disturbing as the allegation, in my view.

The Israeli government has reported told the newspaper that everything was done in a perfectly lawful manner under Israeli law.

Source: Haaretz

54 thoughts on “Report: Americans Required By Israeli Security To Give Access To Their Personal Email Accounts At Airport

  1. At least they are more up front with their system of intentional depriving of human rights…… Our government just scans your encrypted email without your knowledge or consent……the HSA has broad powers…..

  2. I love it when corrupt systems say things like “OH BUT IT WAS DONE IN COMPLETE COMPLIANCE WITH THE LAW.”

  3. Why should the White House get involved? The government has thousands of priorities more important than commenting on Israel’s immigration policies with respect to one incident, especially given the sometimes tense nature of the diplomatic relationship these days. The “blame Obama” whining for everything in the world that isn’t fixed yet is getting a little old.

  4. Another reason not to visit Israel.

    As for the State Dept., don’t hold your breath for DOS sticking up for Arab-Americans; especially in an election cycle.

  5. Nate, you seem to have missed the point. Dept of State protesting treatment of Americans — protecting Americans overseas engaged in lawful travel — is what they’re supposed to do. Your politically motivated reaction is a diversion, though politics, surely, is involved.

  6. The administration raised no objections when an American citizen was killed protesting on behalf of justice for the Palestinians. At our airports and other border crossings Arab Americans are routinely subjected to interrogations. In other instances of “This Week in Lawlessness” Jacob Appelbaum, a supporter of one very brave, gay man, Bradley Manning, has been taken to interrogation rooms. In these rooms he is asked to talk about his feelings regarding president Obama. There has been a representative of the military present during his interrogations.

    According to James Bamford, Israel’s secret agencies regularly monitor the communication of all American citizens. Israel and the US army regularly coordinate on war. The Israeli army has given US “law” enforcement extensive training on how to brutalize and terrorize OWS protesters. That’s just a short list!

    I’m guessing these are just a few of the reasons why the administration doesn’t have any plans to object!

  7. Email? What’s that? I don’t have no steenking email!
    And if I did, I’d have more than one account (I do), one a throwaway.

  8. mr. ed,

    That’s a great idea. Now tell me how you would handle being detained at the airport simply because you were an Arab American? Would you be wondering what might happen to you given both the US and Israel’s policy on renditions? What if they asked you for all your e-mails before you could be released?

    You know, being separated from your family and put in zip cuffs is a really scary experience. Would you worry about what had happened to the rest of your family while you were in your interrogation room while they were (you don’t really know)? All of these things have happened to Arab Americans.

  9. An English tourist reaches immigration at Kennedy, is questioned and examined tooth and nail.

    He finally exclaims on being told to continue: “Thank God that you can’t read minds. I might have something
    hidden there too.”
    To which he is reöplied with: ” We are working on it.”

  10. Give me a break. The premise that these woman were detained simply because they were Arab is arrant nonsense. If you read the Haaretz story, which conspicuously downplays the point, you will see that one of the women, Sandra Tamari, is actually an anti-Israel activist. A cursory online search reveals that she is active in the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee, which supports the anti-Israel movement’s sinister trinity of boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel – a blatantly anti-Semitic campaign intended to undercut Israel’s legitimacy in the international arena. Tamari also routinely travels to the Palestinian territories to agitate against Israel. Not surprisingly, her account of her travails at the hands of Israeli security appeared on the blog Mondoweiss, which is vociferously anti-Zionist, that is, opposed to the very idea of existence of Israel as a Jewish state. (The existence of hundreds of self-declared Muslim Arab and Muslim states is, of course, just fine. No double standard there!) So far from a random tourist harassed for her “Arabic-sounding” last name, then, this woman is well-known to Israeli authorities for her anti-Israel activism. And given the record of such activists in collaborating with the more extreme Palestinian elements, it’s neither surprising nor outrageous that Israeli security felt it appropriate to single her out for comprehensive interrogation of her intentions. It’s a sign of unusual reasonableness on the part of the Obama administration that they have chosen not to make an issue of this.

  11. So true Jacob. Maybe now Obama can send a drone her way! We can’t have people criticizing Israel, can we? Allowing them to exercise their rights to free speech and association? The only response to people exercising their rights is repression, otherwise they are going to get the idea that laws have meaning, and believe the state must act within the law. OMG!

  12. Jill so if someone tried to enter the US who is active in group(s) that support the Taliban and Al queda we should give them a free pass because their name is Arabib sounding and it might look like we were racial profiling. The initial post states “If these accounts are true”, the information posted by Jacob indicates that the women have tied to groups whose goals are the overthrowing of Israel. But hey, it is their names that caused the trouble, if the accounts of the holding of them is true.
    This starts to sound more and more like the Zimmerman posting thread where much is based on speculation and news reports that may or not be true.

  13. Wow, these Israeli officials are acting like people trapped in the middle of a hostile area, undergoing unusual conduct and so forth. How paranoid!!

    (Recently I was called “paranoid” about how my government treated ME.)

  14. Whoever is right there are some facts, which I believe.

    The arab/american lady did not travel there with expectations of passing freely by immigration control.
    She in all likelihood had this planned as a combined photo/media op. And the Israelis were glad for the Israeli headlines.

    Arab states need the Jewish state to have as an eternal enemy.
    And the same can be said that the Jewish state has also both foreign and dommestic needs of this threat.

    On both sides the people suffer. Is there a regretful politician. Not a damn one.

    They are as stupid as the American citizens who pay billions for this charade. And all root for their team. What BS.

  15. That’s nice, Jill, except Israel is not the United States and has different and narrower free-speech parameters, including a law that bans support for boycotts and divestment. While that would never pass constitutional muster in the U.S., it is the state of the law in Israel, to the best of my knowledge. You can make the case that these laws are ill-advised, and I would agree in this instance, but it’s just plain false to suggest that Israeli security agents broke the law in this instance. More broadly, as some of the commentators rightly note, Israel is a small country in a particularly hostile part of the world and it is understandable if not always admirable that it feels the need to constrain free speech in ways that a superpower like the United States does not.

  16. leejcarrol

    The comment by Jacob also reveals he condemns anyone who supports a boycott of goods from settlements in the occupied territories as anti-semites. That position betrays his own agenda. Jacob condemns the “double standard” that Israel suffers. Have you seen any of the treatment that Palestinian farmers are subjected to by the settlers?

  17. Yes the boycott advocates are anti-Semites. And yes, Israeli settlers sometimes mistreat Palestinians, which is wrong. I know, two thoughts in one head. It’s just plain crazy!

  18. “Israel is a small country in a particularly hostile part of the world and it is understandable if not always admirable that it feels the need to constrain free speech ”

    “boycott advocates are anti-Semites.”

    “Israeli settlers sometimes mistreat Palestinians, which is wrong.”

    Jacob, peddle your hasbarist, apartheid right wing Zionist drivel to the credulous.

  19. Now there’s a compelling counter-arguement! Who says internet discussion doesn’t take place on a high level?

  20. Yes, dump on President Obama again. It is getting shallow on this blog. Not shallow–transparent. Why dont you put the Willard bumper sticker on the top of the blog and be done with it?

  21. “Are those Jews who support the boycott also anti-semites?” In my judgement, yes, absolutely they are. To single out for special scrutiny and economic discrimination the lone democracy in its part of the world, a country that affords its Arab and Palestinian citizens greater rights than they can claim in many parts of the Arab world, is to promote a bias against the Jewish state that deserves to be called hatred — and, in the case of Jewish backers of these measures, self-hatred. Of course, one of the great tragedies of Jewish history is that is rife with Jews embracing causes seeking the destruction of world Jewry.

  22. “Jacob condemns the “double standard” that Israel suffers. Have you seen any of the treatment that Palestinian farmers are subjected to by the settlers?” — @Curious.

    Israel plays the double standard game mightily; calls itself a democracy, which Jacob affirms just above, and acts like anything but. Comparing itself to those it considers virtually subhuman, doesn’t make much of an argument.

    With Jacob dragging out the “self hatred” trope, the circle is complete in his self identification with the far right wing. My Jewish associates, and certainly the many relatives dead in the Holocaust are not honored by that brand of of Jew.

  23. You can say what you like as long as you have people who believe it and are willing to pay for it.

    We had a lecture to that effect, about Fox News not being a news organ, but an assured deliverer of propaganda as their viewers wish it.

    Would seem that the Republicans are the same sort of organ. The problem is the folks who want that BS.
    Will/can they change?

  24. This is happening in the U.S. and has been since 9-11. They have their own ‘watch’ list as well as just cause- just cause the wanna’.

    “Warning: US Customs and Border Protection may confiscate your laptop and PDA
    by Ned Levi on July 3, 2008

    The Fourth Amendment may prohibit “unreasonable searches and seizures” and require “probable cause,” but not at the border, according to the 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals, which has ruled that Customs and Border Protection agents could conduct random, warrantless searches and seizures of laptops without probable cause.

    Since 9/11, CBP agents have been searching and seizing laptops, digital cameras, cellphones and other electronic devices at the border, without search warrants, or probable cause. CBP agents can subject these devices to extensive forensic analysis, according to the courts”


    “Wikileaks volunteer detained and searched (again) by US agents”

  25. In Michigan the police can also swipe- literally- your phone info at a traffic stop, The ACLU is concerned:

    “ACLU wants to know how Michigan cops use ‘data extraction devices’
    ACLU wants more information on how Michigan State Police are using handheld devices it says could download information from the cell phones of motorists they pull over”

    Why would the State Department get involved when we do the same thing here, hell, foreign governments probably have a reciprocity agreement with our government calling for the sharing of the looted info. Srsly, just because “fascism” is spelled wit a small “F” in this country doesn’t mean it isn’t, like, real fascism.

  26. I thought fascism was defined by the interests of corporations being those that steer the state. And this congruency of interests meant it was difficult to discern a border between the two entities.

    Now if we don’t have fascism, then what do we have.

    Thanks Lotta.
    Shall we go around with a certain moustache and a suitable wig on July 4th, carrying of course portraits of “der Fuhrer”? How many would get the point? How many would tolerate the free speeh? And what would the judge in Pennsylvania do if a conflict emerges?

  27. So sorry if the truth hurts, DonS, but self-hatred is exactly what it is. As for your relatives who died in the Holocaust, I wouldn’t be so quick to mind read. Who knows, they might even have looked kindly on a country that served as a refuge for Holocaust survivors and whose record of democracy and human rights finds no equal in the Middle East. Embarrassing to see how pathetic are the “arguments” of the apologists for anti-Israel bigotry.

  28. With apologies to the shade of Percy Bysshe Shelley and his immortal poem “Ozymandias,” I offer here a brief meditation on only the most current depredations of the Apartheid Zionist Entity upon those captive Palestinian Arabs who had absolutely nothing to do with the German/Christian persecution of Jews in Europe before and during World War II. Given the reflexive genuflecting sponsorship of this pipsqueak pariah by its pathetic patron, the United States, I call the ruinous relationship:

    “Cozy Scandalous”

    I met a refugee from Gaza Strip,
    Who spoke to me with empty, staring eyes
    Dumb words whose depth of pain I could not grip
    With all the helping hands the world denies
    While lapping up the lurid lies that slip
    And roll so greasy off the practiced tongue
    Of Zionists whose caged and wounded prey
    Are told to flee and leave their dying young
    To weep beside the corpses of their old
    In darkened shattered former homes where they
    Cannot refute the garbage we’ve been told
    By glib Israeli liars trained to spread
    A veil of darkness over crimes they’ve sold
    As “Peaceful Co-Existence” — with the dead

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2009.

    The Tenth Crusade began in 1948 with the establishment of the Apartheid Zionist Entity. It has lasted some sixty-plus years. The previous nine lasted only about two hundred. This one has a ways to go yet, but will end up the same way the others did, and for similar reasons.

  29. Rafflaw, It’s a concern to me that if the ACLU or a freedom loving citizen gets the phone swipe matter before the high court it will be green-lighted nationwide and conversely, if it doesn’t get a court hearing that strikes the practice down, it will become a nationwide problem.

  30. Jacob, you make my case. Since when has Israel’s “record of democracy and human rights [which] finds no equal in the Middle East.” been any comparison to brag over?

    In any case, I am not interested in engaging a debate over just how superior Israel is to strawmen. It’s not the Israel most humanistic Jews would have envisioned. And I’m also not all that interested in debating OT why I believe that is the case.

    Suffice to say I don’t think you have much standing to question my own understanding of values in my family, dead or alive. Nor do I have standing to evaluate, what seem to me as, your own un-Jewish inclinations. That’s where the problem comes in, isn’t it, conflating religious and political motives?

  31. I am no lawyer, but isn’t search only motivated by a warrant or observation or reasonable suspicion?

    So what qualifies these highly invasive tactics?
    Or is it simply a form of “learning” us to accept such
    invasions of privacy, or indeed being formed to accept invasions per se, couple with humiliation?

    Can I use a video to record such an encounter?

  32. Why has there been no formal and public objection from the Obama Administration? For the same reason we didn’t hear anything from them about the murder of Furkan Doğan.

  33. Bottom line….the Obama administration, the State Department, will have nothing to say simply because it’s Israel and god forbid anyone be the least critical of Israel!

  34. I am no lawyer, but isn’t search only motivated by a warrant or observation or reasonable suspicion?

    So what qualifies these highly invasive tactics?
    Or is it simply a form of “learning” us to accept such invasions of privacy, or indeed being formed to accept invasions per se, couple with humiliation?

    It’s not clear this is the treatment that is given to everyone they question. (Though it might be).

    But a cursory google of her name makes clear she is an activist, proudly so, and makes no bones about it.

    So it’s not clear the Israelis didn’t already have her on a watch list, and didn’t already have reasons they would call reasonable suspicion for this sort of interrogation.

    I think it’s terribly intrusive, and they should have just kicked her out, but I suspect what they did obnoxious as it was, was completely legal. (Though I really have no clue.)

    Can I use a video to record such an encounter?

    Magic 8 Ball says: Outlook not so good.

  35. I think Israel’s behavior here is counter productive from a PR standpoint, but since I am not a security expert, and since I don’t know what they know about her or about security, and since their treatement seems legal and humane even if intrusive, I will give them the benefit of the doubt. They have concerns I consider to be real and valid.

    I honestly don’t understand the poutrage here except as a knee jerk reaction.

    I know that with my US Passport I should be able to expect the 7th Fleet to get me out of trouble when I am abroad, but I never expected my US Passport would guarantee me admittance into any other country.

    For the longest time, Saudi Arabia made it very difficult for Jewish Americans to enter there, even at times we were giving Saudia Arabia foreign aid.

    I am much more concerned with TSA and Customs inspections and confiscation of my and all citizen’s electronic devices when crossing borders than I am about how Israel treats a person on their no fly list before she enters their country.

    I don’t understand the argument that because we give aid to Israel they need to admit all US citizens, or promise not to go through their gmail or facebook accounts.

    I doubt our FBI or CIA treats us that way, much less potential visitors from other countries. They are probably more circumspect about it, however.

  36. Idealist707: Can I use a video to record such an encounter?

    You can’t even use pen and paper.
    A pen is a dangerous weapon, and it would frighten people with guns. THis is official.

    “They said that my pen was a dangerous weapon. So that’s what—that’s Agent Wassum who said that, that my pen was a threat to them. And, you know, I mean, in terms of the context, you have to understand that I’m surrounded by border agents who are all carrying guns, and I’m taking out, you know, a pen that they find threatening. And so, this was, you know, profoundly upsetting. And then I was taken into—I was taken directly into an interrogation room and questioned. I took out my pen again. I was ordered by another agent to put it away. And this went on for quite some time. And I was told during this interrogation—I mean, I’m always asserting my rights as a journalist to not reveal my work, my sources.”

    I think paper would be a dangerous weapon also.
    Did you ever get a paper cut? Nasty and painful.

  37. My apologies to all, and esp. ANON.
    I did not point to what I was reacting to in my last point as to grounds for invasive searchs.
    I was referring to the police in the USA scanning cellphones at traffic stops with no warrants, etc.

    Not what occurred in Israel.
    Would be stupid to question their laws, don’t have an idea what they are. They were nice enough to without asking (I knew nothing) in 1967. to pin my visa onto the last page of the passport. So the arab countries would not deny me entrance. Mention it just for comparison purposes. They all were nice at the Jerusalem crossover. Not a wusi-kusi in sight.

  38. Hey ID7,

    Yes, there is a ton of scanning of various sorts going on at the border, and even at traffic stops, and the courts seem to be condoning it.

    I know a Dow 30 company I used to work for basically made it standard that if you were traveling across a border you needed to switch your standard laptop for a special company clean laptop that the company did not mind losing to the Feds. They mainly encouraged everyone to not carry laptops across borders.

    And there are devices sold to law enforcement that lets them swiftly (under 5 minutes) break in and download almost everything from a cell phone, and specifcally from iPhones.

    Most of this is considered okay because the court analogies a phone to an address book or something

    Gene Howington can probably verify this, just remember to ignore his actual reasoning because he’s an idiot.

    It’s made worse on iPhone and Android phones because apps like Dropbox connect the phone back to the user’s pc or mac or to files on the cloud and so actually give the cops the ability to search inside a person’s home computer merely by interrogating the phone.

    Can you video this? I would hope so, but I don’t know.

    Instead of videoing it with a cell phone, I highly encourage using qik or justintv or ureach to simultaneously upload and broadcast it live.

  39. AMOM,
    Excellent. Good info at the end about videoing.
    Can you tell Iphone users how they can take away the coupling to the Cloud and the home computer?
    Keep up this good work with intrusion fighting.

  40. “Can you tell Iphone users how they can take away the coupling to the Cloud and the home computer?”

    If you haven’t explicitly done this, you don’t have (much) to worry about.

    These linkages involve loading the dropbox app, or google drive, or microsoft skydrive, or sugar sync or a variety of apps that explicitly make these links.

    My phone probably has 2 or 3 of these apps and I find them very useful but one reason why I am concerned that the cops can take my phone and start walking through it and actually end up with files that were otherwise on my home’s hard drive.

    “Instead of videoing it with a cell phone, I highly encourage using qik or justintv or ureach to simultaneously upload and broadcast it live.”

    I’d really like to see a revolution in which citizens naturally broadcast, not just record, their interactions with gov’t. I think it would temper how citizens are treated by gov’t servants.

  41. I can’t believe my taxpayer dollars goes to provide aid to the TSA and NSA and CIA.–157797865.html

    Stranded Student Fights ‘No Fly List’
    For now, Kavon Iraniha must find another way to get back to San Diego, without boarding a plane.

    An SDSU graduate, who spent the past year studying international law in Costa Rica, was not allowed to board a flight home to San Diego.

    When San Diego native Kavon Iraniha, 27, went to a Costa Rican airport Tuesday, he was told he could not fly because the U.S. government had put him on the “No Fly List.”

    When he went to the U.S. embassy, Iraniha said he was interviewed by FBI agents for several hours.

    He vented on his Facebook page posting “I don’t have any felonies, I am not a druggie! I am an educated American-Iranian Muslim citizen; I guess that makes me a threat.”

    Back home in San Diego, there were some who questioned the motives behind adding Iraniha to the No Fly List, saying this could be a case of racial profiling.

    “Essentially at the end of the day, he was told he was on a No Fly List with no reason,” said Hanif Mohebi with the Council on American-Islamic relations.

  42. Well, all things considered, just like Furkan Doğan, the US didn’t say anything when the Israelis flattened Rachel Corrie with a back hoe, left Tristan Andersen permanently brain damaged, put out Emily Heinowitz’s eye, shot 1/2 of Brian Avery’s face off, or busted into Dr. Khalid Salah home and killed him his and son Muhammed, age 16.

    What else is new?

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