Megan Fountain and Saqib Bhatti’s assertion (“Our friend, detained,” Jan. 21) that Israel censors its press is laughable. The vigorous Israeli press has brought down presidents, prime ministers and generals and never shies from passionately defending the rights of Palestinians or criticizing Israeli authorities. The press is beholden to no one. Suggesting that the immigration control issues faced by Jared Malsin ’07 were connected to his journalism wrongly assaults a country which has gone to unprecedented lengths to protect liberty in the midst of armed conflict.
Although yesterday’s column quoted selectively from transcripts, the record of the Malsin detention is clear. Malsin and his girlfriend had been staying in Israel illegally and working on a tourist visa. When questioned, Malsin lied to immigration officials and said he intended to become an Israeli citizen. It was only then that officials asked about the articles he had written, highly critical of Israel, trying to determine whether he in fact had any intention of becoming a citizen. Malsin admitted that he had no desire to become a citizen and stopped cooperating with immigration officials. Malsin’s articles weren’t the reason for his deportation, they were the source of legitimate questions about his supposed desire to adopt Israeli citizenship.
Malsin’s behavior would get him stopped by immigration in any country. Last year, an international student returning from South America on a service trip was detained and eventually flown back because her papers weren’t in order. Only with Israel is a routine immigration proceeding, where the traveler is caught lying and traveling illegally, misconstrued as a case of press censorship — just another example of the double-standard Israel is often subject to.
The writer is a freshman in Branford College.