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Jewish American Challenges Israel Segregation Wall


Jewish American Challenges Israeli Segregation Wall In January 16 Hearing

WHERE: Tel Aviv District Court, Weitzmann Street at corner of Shaul Hamelech (Judge Tal) WHEN: January 16, 2005 at 2:00 PM

On Sunday January 16 at 2:00 PM, US Jewish lesbian activist Kate Raphael Bender will go to court after five weeks in an Israeli immigration prison. Raphael Bender, a resident of San Francisco, CA, will argue that she should not be deported from Israel because her activities against the segregation wall defend international law and the Jewish people. She has no lawyer and will present her own case with the help of a translator.

Raphael Bender is petitioning against the Israeli authorities' intention to expel her from Israel for the second time in a year as a result of her work in opposition to Israel's West Bank segregation wall. She argues that her activities are consistent with positions of the world's highest legal body, the International Court of Justice, which has ruled that the construction of the wall on Palestinian land violates international law.

In her petition, Raphael Bender quotes Israeli Minister Gideon Ezra who indicated that rightwing foreigners who want to protest disengagement are to be given preferential treatment by the government over left-wing activists who come to support non-violent resistance in the Occupied Territories. Ezra stated in the Jerusalem Post: "We will not prevent them (Jews) from entering, even if we know they are coming to resist the plan. There are people who come for worse causes such as to break down the security fence and participate in ISM radical left wing activities."

Raphael Bender, who holds a legal tourist visa stated: "I am here as a Jew to promote solutions that are best for Jews and non-Jews. This policy is an undemocratic way of silencing dissent from world Jewry. Jews who are coming to block disengagement from Gaza are opposing an effort to move Israel closer to compliance with international law. In contrast, my activities support Israeli compliance with international law."

Israeli authorities claim that Raphael Bender was inside a closed military zone and that she participated in violent demonstrations there. Raphael Bender argues in her petition that Israeli military forces never announced to the demonstrators that they were in a closed military zone in Arabic or in English, as is required by law. Also, the soldiers used violence and made exaggerated claims about what happened at the demonstration. She plans to introduce videotape supporting her account of the events. She also will introduce an invitation from the Palestinian Authority for her to remain in Palestinian territory.

Raphael Bender is arguing for a legal precedent to ensure that no one should be excluded because they oppose government policy.

Israeli and international supporters of Raphael Bender will hold brief protests before the hearing at the Tel Aviv District Court.

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