SYMPATHY WITH PALESTINIANS CONSTITUTES A “SECURITY THREAT”
December 1, 2003— A Montreal-based solidarity activist and alternative journalist was barred from entering Israel this past Saturday. Stefan Christoff, who is a member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and a media activist, attempted to cross into Israel from Jordan.
Border officials held Stefan for several hours, where he was interrogated and thoroughly searched before finally being barred entry by Israeli border guards. Stefan was unilaterally deemed a “security threat” to Israel; no proof or explanation was provided. Border guards threatened to remove Stefan by force if he did not return to Jordan.
Stefan has been very active with Palestinian solidarity issues in Montreal, raising awareness as a radio journalist and a member of the ISM. Stefan’s reports have been broadcast widely on community and alternative radio outlets all over North America. He is a producer and host at CKUT Radio in Montreal as well as a correspondent for Free Speech Radio News in the United States.
Clearly, Stefan’s only threat is that he is sympathetic to the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, and that he was attempting to witness and report first-hand the day-to-day reality of the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Stefan’s barring is part of the Israeli practice of systematically targeting Palestinian solidarity activists. Israeli authorities have attempted to bar many from ever entering the country, while others are targeted for arrest for their work as observers and participants at non-violent actions against the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine. In one case, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have murdered an ISM activist (Rachel Corrie), while another still lies in a coma as a result of IOF bullets.
Canadian ISM members have challenged the “security threat” designation in Israeli courts, and have won favorable decisions. With his forced removal from the Israeli-Jordanian border, Stefan cannot effectively challenge the Israeli authorities.
The systematic barring of Palestinian sympathizers continues the Israeli policy of isolating Palestinians from the rest of the world. Canadian authorities are complicit in this process by not assertively standing up for Canadian nationals who are arbitrarily barred from Israel or forcibly removed. Moreover, based on previous cases, it is clear that information about non-violent activists in Canada is being passed on to the Israeli authorities.
The International Solidarity Movement is a Palestinian-led movement of Palestinian and International activists working to raise awareness of the struggle for Palestinian freedom and an end to Israeli occupation. The ISM utilizes nonviolent, direct-action methods of resistance to confront and challenge illegal Israeli occupation forces and policies.