An interesting blog post from Stolen Words Stolen Days (via Sabbah's blog) about what some travelers face trying to enter Israel. I got lucky upon arrival and dealt with a witty young woman in passport control who was actually very helpful. She asked a bare minimum of questions and obviously recognized me as the wildly nonthreatening soul I am. Sadly, that's not always the case:
"The woman accused me of lying, saying I wanted to volunteer instead of sight see or visit friends. She wanted me to log into my email so she could go through it because she didn’t believe me and said since I received the papers through an email that she needed to see my emails. I refused, saying I couldn’t, “as an American,” and this was a violation of my privacy. She stated that I was not cooperating in an angry and aggressive tone...
"I asked her how could I have time to volunteer in three weeks, and she replied that I could extend my ticket. She continuously asked if I was going to volunteer or attend Arabic classes. I told her repeatedly no and she replied that I was lying. She also threatened to call the university that was in Nablus that put together the papers to ask if they knew about me, and I told her to go ahead as they would not know whom I was, yet she did nothing but continued to call me a liar. Even though I was going to sightsee and visit friends, I do not see how a possibility of volunteering at a university in Nablus to teach English would be a possible reason to deny me entry. She appeared to refuse to listen to my plans but was just assaulting me with “questions” that were really more like statements or assumptions of what she thought I would be doing, regardless of what I said."
In the end, this person, a tourist, as with so many others, was fingerprinted, photographed, and detained overnight before being placed on a plane and deported. Read the full description and see the photos of the detention center. Welcome to Israel, indeed.