If it is a 6am wake up call, then it must be our border crossing day! With the the first openings at 8am, we were up early and moving out to ensure that we got across from Jordan and into the West Bank as early as we could given the possible (which in our case turned into definite) delays.  We have been discussing what events or sights have been the most meaningful to people based on their different discinplines and interests. With my  International Relations background, where others may have found the process tedious or aggravating, objectively observing the whole event was a fascinating experience for me.

On the Jordanian side, we went through an interesting diplomatic dance which worked out in the end with an expedited trip via the VIP lounge.  After clearing multiple additional checkpoints, our arrival on the other side was not so expedited.  After a long while in line, most of us were asked simple or no questions at the first passport checkpoint and given a sticker on our passport with a number checked which indicated no issues with our case.  However, the two in our party with different backgrounds (Sarah, an American citizen whose family roots are in Pakistan, and one of our guides, a German citizen whose family came there from Iran)  were flagged for further questioning. After clearing the bag scan and metal detector cleanly (except for Kara in her metal detector aggravating boots), Sarah and the guide were questioned, then given back their passports which had been taken away at the time, before being passed on to the final passport clearance. The rest of the group cleared this with no problems, but had to wait on the other side while they filled out a form and waited to answer more possible questions.  Everyone made it through fine, and as by this point it was past 11:30am we were ready to get on with the rest of our day in the West Bank and initial overview of Jerusalem before settling in this evening in Bethlehem.

Overall, given my poor “sense of direction” that I posted about before, having such a level of expertise from our guides was very helpful and I am grateful not to have needed to tackle the “controlled chaos” (as some of us termed it) alone.

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4 Responses to Crossing

  1. Mark Wilson says:

    This crossing was a part of the adventure I was most curious about. Glad everyone made it through!

  2. Stephen Flynn says:

    How did the passport control know about Sarah and the guides family roots in Pakistan and Iran, just from their last names?

  3. jfriedman says:

    Our staffer had a distinctly Iranian last name as well as a German passport that listed her place of birth, which was Iran. Sarah covers her head in an obviously Muslim style. I note that both of them were only asked a minimal number of additional questions. Kara was detained for quite some time, however, until they determined that there was nothing actually hidden in her hiking boots, which set off the metal detector!

  4. Allison Hodgkins says:

    Greetings Hale’s seminar alumni: Did you know that the treatment Sara experienced during our program is about to become enshrined in US Law? Believe it or not, as part of S. 462 Israel will be granted a singular exception to the principle of reciprocity for US citizens to all them to continue to question, detain and deny entry to US citizens without any justification or recourse for explanation or reversal. This bill effectively affirms that certain classes of US citizens should be treated differently on the grounds of their faith, ethnicity or political opinions. If you think this might be somewhat contrary to our values, I implore you to contact your senator and express your concerns about the implications of S. 462 containing this exemption. Not to oppose Israel being part of the visa waiver program, simply this special exemption to the basic principle of reciprocity and expectation of fair and equal treatment of American citizens.

    TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to Oppose Visa Waivers for Israel | The Arab American Institute
    The Arab American Institute is collecting stories of American citizens who have been harassed, detained, or deported when attempting to enter Israel or Palestine. If you’ve personally experienced such an incident, please provide details in the form

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