Welcome to Kalamna, the student blog of the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at NYU.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Goodbye Becca Keleher, Hello Jackie Daniels

A year ago at this time I was in Haifa working at Mada al-Carmel, where I often heard stories about the joys of Israeli security during our coffee breaks (which for most were also smoke breaks, this is the Middle East after all). One day I heard about a creative (albeit drastic) way to get through Israeli customs once you've been deemed a security threat by the government. Note that the definition of a "security threat" includes foreign human rights activists that engage in legal, nonviolent activities. The government isn't a big fan of international solidarity activists that, you know, monitor, protest, and report human rights abuses, so they are classified as a security threat. Yeah, those hippies in a drum circle you see in Sheikh Jarrah every Friday protesting and passively resisting forced evictions? Big 'ol security threats.

See, aren't they menacing?  

But I digress. Back to the point of this post. So a coworker was attending a meeting in Ramallah the next day and was hitching a ride with some friends of hers. She told me that this guy and his girlfriend were cool people and that I should meet them sometime. Apparently this American dude previously worked in Nablus for three years doing underground activism and journalistic work. Eventually the Israeli government caught wind of his activities (all legal, all nonviolent) and flagged this nice guy from Colorado as a security threat, and wouldn't renew his visa or allow him back into the country. To which I responded, "Wait, they flagged him as a security threat but you're riding with him to Ramallah tomorrow? How the hell is he here then?!"

It's all quite simple (and ridiculous). After he was denied entry, Mr. Colorado went back to the United States and changed his identity. He legally changed his name and was issued a new passport - one on which the Israelis didn't have a special file. So if any of you are on Israel's naughty list and want back in the game, just think of a new name for yourself. Being the paranoid person that I am, I've already started brainstorming new names for myself. Some ideas:

-Becca McCrea (my mom's maiden name)
-Jackie Daniels
-Stella Lennon-DeNiro
-Shirin Gooz
-Rufus T. Barleysheath
-Whitney Houston

Really, the possibilities are endless.

1 comment:

Anthony McAuley said...

It is always a good idea to use your mums maiden name as this is often not on files. Another way is to use your middle name (Paul Michael Jones -- Michael Jones) or indeed just use your first and middle names as your full name (Paul Michael). Simple ways without having to think too much.