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Thu Oct 1, 2020, 06:02 PM

U.S. Bans Me for Committing Journalism

I am an Israeli-British dual citizen, and I am banned for life from entering America. According to the document I received in August 2019 at the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, the State Department made this decision based on a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act that ďprohibits issuance of a visa to a person who at any time engaged in terrorist activities or was associated with a terrorist organization. This is a permanent ineligibility.Ē


I have never been charged with any offense related to terrorism. I have, however, spent a fair amount of time in the company of members of organizations on the terrorism lists of both the U.S. and the European Union. Thatís because Iíve spent the past two decades as a journalist covering the Middle East.

I have met with members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Hamas in Ramallah and Jerusalem. I traveled with Kataib Hezbollah into Iraqís Anbar province, drank tea with the groupís founder, Abu Mahdi al Muhandis (who was killed by a January 2020 U.S. drone strike), and watched his organization in action against Islamic State. I interviewed ISIS members too, in an anonymous apartment in Kilis, Turkey, on the Syrian border. I spoke with Syrian rebels and government officials, Iraqi army officers, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and civil-society activists of various persuasions over the past decade and a half.

This list includes people and organizations whose views I find repugnant. I spent time with them not to assist their cause, but to provide detailed and accurate information to readers about their nature, activities and beliefs. As any field reporter will tell you, that process also involves relaxed, sometimes superficially pleasant and humorous, interaction with people whose beliefs and activities one opposes, even abhors. Thatís the nature of our business.

I have also spent time with and interviewed leaders and fighters of the Kurdish Workers Party, known by the Kurdish abbreviation PKK. I also witnessed the rescue of the Yazidi population from ISIS by the PKK-linked YPG organization in Syriaís Sinjar area in 2014. I am not a partisan of the PKK, which is on both the U.S. and EU lists of proscribed terror organizations. I do support the national aspirations of the Kurds. Although the specific basis of my exclusion from the U.S. under Section 212 hasnít been revealed to me, I suspect it may be my acquaintance with senior PKK officials, and that Turkish influence may be behind it. This is speculation, but Ankaraís mistreatment of journalists and hostility to free media are well documented.

I am only one reporter. But the Middle East remains an arena of vital importance. Citizens and policy makers need information to respond to its challenges. This requires eyes in the field and contacts on the ground. Curtailing that wonít make America more secure. Journalists, including those of us who interview terrorists, arenít the enemy.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-bans-me-for-committing-journalism-11601418550 (subscription)

Jonathan Spyer is director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis and a research fellow at the Middle East Forum.

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question everything Oct 1 OP
tblue37 Oct 1 #1
niyad Oct 1 #2

Response to question everything (Original post)

Thu Oct 1, 2020, 06:10 PM

1. K&R for visibility. nt

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Thu Oct 1, 2020, 07:25 PM

2. KNR

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