What they did to Maysoon
August 6, 2006
I want to tell you the story of what happened to my friend Maysoon Zayid when she left Ben Gurion Airport a few days ago to fly back to NYC.
Since she told it to me, it has grown from a little hole inside me into a huge gaping wound. I have become consumed with it, this one detail of one woman's crossing.
I want to write it to you particularly because I have no right to tell this story.
There is always a worse story, so we never have the right to tell our stories.
Stories which are all part of the Israeli matrix of occupation and touch every aspect of all our lives and our bodies. These stories are not to be told because there is always someone whose home has been demolished, someone whose family member was shot before their eyes, someone who was imprisoned, detained and tortured....there is always the bunker bombs, cluster bombs, civilians crushed under the rubble of buildings, families killed while picnicking on beaches..... do I need to go on?
Can I still tell this story in the face of such large scale horror?
Can I resist?
Can we hear, mourn and acknowledge Maysoon's story for what it is, what it was, and how deeply damaging and brutal something like this can be?
How calculated every arm of the Israeli machine is.
She called me when she landed in NYC and said "Emily you won't believe what happened to me at Ben Gurion Airport."
The ugliness of the occupation and the years of damaging experiences reared their ugly head inside me when my first thought was a bitten and ironic "What?"
Big deal! I thought. What could she possibly tell me that is so horrific?
My own experiences flashed through my mind....the time they smashed my G4 laptop in half so a huge chunk was hanging off of it, the countless tapes, film, pictures and more that they have ever confiscated, the strip searches, the humiliation of being strip searched by a man, when they emptied the vodka bottles I brought back for my peeps in Ramallah and filled them with water.......my dear sister who left Ben Gurion a few months ago and had everything she was carrying confiscated. She was only allowed to board the plane with her passport. She is a writer and filmmaker and loves to write on planes but they would not allow her a pen and paper. The sandwich she made in her home in Ramallah was taken from her. She made it because she has blood sugar issues and she needed that sandwich to make it through without getting sick and weak. She explained this to the Israeli security who looked at her with stealy eyes and told her to drink coffee....my sister. My uncle with cancer whose prosthesis they forcibly removed and on and on and on....
Before I continue, just a note that Maysoon has cerebral palsy and went through this whole process in a wheelchair at Ben Gurion airport.
Maysoon began "Emily I was strip-searched"
Me: "Oh yea so? Everyone gets strip searched." A disgusting reaction I know. I couldn't help myself. Yes it is shameful when you are so damaged that that is your first thought.
I can not forgive myself for that reaction.
Maysoon continued "They took everything. They left me naked in the room and when they returned with my clothes they had taken my maxipad."
"Yes and then I told them I need one and they said they didn't have any."
She proceeded to tell them she had more in her hand carry-on. They wouldn't let her touch her stuff for "security reasons".
Nor would they give her one maxi-pad from her bag.
They would not let her travel with her carry-on luggage on the plane.
My friend Maysoon was made to bleed for hours in the airport all over herself in a wheelchair.
As if that wasn't enough. She was also not allowed to touch her medication(also in her hand carry-on). She has cerebral palsy and needs to take special medicine or else she will throw up on the flight.
Several hours later she finally boarded Continental Airlines. The stewardess looked at her in disgust when she entered the plane.
Maysoon looked up at her and said "They took my maxi-pad."
The stewardess' ramaged through their belongings and managed to produce a pair of shorts etc for her to wear.
She threw up 7 times on the flight as she was not allowed to take her medicine.
Are there words for such horror and brutality?
The policy of treating Palestinians in the most dispicable manner at border crossings has been in place for years in an effort to brutalize people to such an extreme that they will not return.
I remember it all.
Every crossing from Jordan when I was a kid in the 70's, and later through Ben Gurion in the 80's. I will not forget.
I will never forget what they did to Maysoon.
Maysoon who is a comedian, an actress and an activist.
She herself is writing down this story in greater detail when she is able to. And I will forward it to you then.
See her website:
Here is a link for a recent border crossing story written by a European-American.
A European-American, not a Palestinian-American, can visit Palestine