Saved From Deportation, Jewish-American Activist Approved for Israeli Citizenship

Julie Weinberg-Connors, who was detained at Ben-Gurion International Airport two months ago, is expected to receive her immigrant’s visa on Tuesday

Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz
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Julie Weinberg-Connors.
Julie Weinberg-Connors. Credit: Emil Salman
Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz

A left-wing Jewish-American who was detained at Ben-Gurion International Airport and almost deported two months ago has been approved for Israeli citizenship, Haaretz has learned.

Julie Weinberg-Connors, who requested to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return, is expected to receive her immigrant’s visa on Tuesday. The 23-year old, who is living in Israel on a temporary resident’s visa that is valid for another few months, is studying at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.

Active in the Jewish anti-occupation organization All That’s Left, Weinberg-Connors was initially told that she could not enter Israel because she had visited Khan al-Amar, the West Bank Bedouin village that had been slated for demolition.

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Her deportation was averted after two lawmakers from the left-wing Meretz party intervened on her behalf. After undergoing questioning at the airport for two-and-a-half hours, Weinberg-Connors was told that she would be allowed to enter the country on the condition that she not visit the West Bank without a permit from the Coordinator of Government Activity in the Territories.

Originally from Boston, Weinberg-Connors moved her belongings to Israel about a year ago, and while in the country, submitted her application for aliyah.

In an interview with Haaretz last month, she said her experience at the airport had strengthened her resolve to immigrate to Israel. “Part of my decision was based on concerns about my ability to stay here without deportation, and that exact fear was confirmed so I feel it’s even more important now,” she said. “It also reinvigorated my commitment to pursuing a life of justice and understanding.”

Weinberg-Connors is among a growing list of left-wing activists detained for questioning at Israel’s borders in recent months – including the prominent journalist Peter Beinart and social activist Simone Zimmerman.

Weinberg-Connors was unavailable for comment on Monday.

In another high-profile case, last month, the Supreme Court overturned a government decision to ban Lara Alqasem from Israel, after she had been mistakenly flagged as an activist in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

Alqasem had arrived in Israel in order to pursue her graduate studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Although she was in possession of a valid student visa, issued by an Israeli consular office in the United States, Alqasem was held for two weeks at a detainment center at Ben-Gurion International Airport before her release.

The Ministry of Interior Affairs did not respond by press time to a request for comment.

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