American-Jewish journalist Jared Malsin found himself in the midst of a bizarre story when he was deported - or expelled, depending on whom you ask – by Israel after two-and-a-half years working as a journalist for Palestinian news agency Maan. He had recently returned to Israel with his girlfriend from a short vacation in Prague when the saga started during the security briefing at the airport.
In a first interview with Ynet from New York, Malsin recounted the events leading up to his arrest. He said that after passport control, he and his girlfriend were taken aside and were quested for eight hours, after which they were notified that they were blocked entry into Israel and were taken to a detention facility at the airport along with 500 other people. During his eight days of detention, his girlfriend returned to the US. "I was so miserable," he said.
Malsin, who turns 25 next week, is still unsure exactly what happened. He said that when he was ask why he was being held in detention and denied entry to Israel, that the authorities' reason continually changed. He noted that he still does not have an accurate idea of why he was denied entry, saying that it was never explained to him by an official Israeli representative.
Malsin (L). Was detained and left the country (Photo: AP)
Maan, his employer, did not hesitate to connect between his detainment and the fact that he is a vocal critic of Israel, in addition to being Jewish.
Malsin said that he is left with no other choice than to conclude that his detention and deportation are political. True, he is critical towards Israel, he noted, but he pointed out that he is just as critical towards Hamas, saying that this was part of his job as a journalist.
Malsin explained that this was not the first time he was harassed by Israeli authorities. He said that during his job as a journalist he is authorized to work with various bodies such as the military and the police. He claimed that the Government Press Office systematically made his work more difficult and refused to grant him a press card, just as it refuses to grant Maan the official status as a news agency, according to him.
When asked whether he believes the fact that he is Jewish gave his criticism of Israel a more central role in his recent experience, Malsin said that it seems perfectly logical that Jews would speak out more regarding Israel, for good and for bad. "Who if not the Jews should express their opinions and feelings about Israel?" he asked.
Malsin misses his work in journalism and said that he would currently like to be in the West Bank. When asked what his future plans are, he explained that his lawyer is still examining what options are open to him.
The Interior Ministry reported that Malsin was deported after he refused to answer the questions posed to him by investigators upon returning from Prague. Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Hadad said that Malsin was waiting in detention at the airport for a court hearing. "Apparently he did like it and chose to leave the country," she reasoned.
The International Press Institute, which advocates freedom of the press, published a condemnation Thursday of Malsin's deportation, which clearly was politically motivated, it claimed.
IPI Director David Dadge said: “The International Press Institute is very concerned by the Israeli government’s decision to deny Jared Malsin entry into the country, particularly because it appears that he may have been tricked into essentially signing his own deportation order.
"We hope that Jared Malsin and the team at Ma’an will be able to clear the legal hurdles necessary for him to return to the West Bank and continue his work there. This entire situation highlights again the need for an Israeli policy towards journalists that is both transparent and in line with international standards for press freedom.”