Sunday, August 19, 2007

Jonas Update

Yet more unfortunate events for my friend Jonas Moffat, whose recent expulsion from Israel I posted on July 8:

[following by Jonas]

Hello my dear friends. I know my last dispatch was entitled "Final Dispatch." But this is the Epilogue. And it is an unbelievable epilogue for sure. The severity and unbelievability of it is still setting in.In my "Final Dispatch," I informed you of how I was on my way to Jerusalemwith Katie to do story on the Pride Parade In Jerusalem. (See Katie'saccount here: But I wasp icked up at the Qalandia checkpoint, thrown in jail for a week, and then deported to Egypt, only after much work from friends and lawyers convincing the Israeli Ministry of Interior not to send me back to the US.And like that, my life in Palestine was over. I was forced to leave my work and my friends. My apartment and rooms were left as if I was just going out for a stroll. But I was not to come back. I was prohibited from bringing most of my belongings with me, including my laptop. That was the "Get Out" part of the story. So now I sit in Egypt. I took the time since my deportation to be with friends and to heal after a pretty traumatizing experience. My wonderful friends from San Francisco helped to fund my way to Indonesia to be with them and clear my mind from the worst week of my life and re-energize and re-focus. And this I did. Then I boarded a flight back to Egypt to get back to work, to work remotely from Palestine for the ISM. But first, I needed the rest of my belongings that were stuck in Palestine. Katie boarded a bus from Jerusalem around the same time my friend Ahmed and I boarded a bus from Cairo. Destination: Sinai Peninsula. Number One: to see Katie whom I hadn't seen since the Israeli authorities kicked me out of Palestine. And Number Two: to retrieve my things, especially my laptop, so I could get back to working for the non-violent resistance. Through text messages, Katie and I corresponded. Her from Israel, and me from Egypt."On bus, see you in 7 hours." "Okay, see you soon, insha'allah. I miss you." Etc. Etc. Time passed. Eventually I received a text message from Katie: "I am detained at the border." This was expected of course. More time passed. "Still detained," read another text. An hour later, I receive this text: "I can't believe what they just did. I don't know how to tell you." This brings us to the "and Stay Out" part of the story…

(written by Katie)

"Friday morning I left Ramallah for Egypt to see Jonas in Sinai and to give him some of his stuff. I road a bus from Jerusalem to Eilat and was going to cross the border from Eilat, Israel into Taba, Egypt. I gave Jonas a ballpark time of when I would be there, because you never can tell what will happen at these border crossings. The first time I ever crossed the border from Israel to Jordan, I was delayed there for 3 hours because of a bomb scare. That was back in 2001, my first Israeli "security"experience. I was simultaneously scared and intrigued at the same time. "What kind of god-forsaken place is this?" my 25 year-old-self wondered. So there I was at the Eilat border crossing, wondering how long I would be detained this time. The border policewoman punched my passport number into the computer and I watched her face turn from almost-pleasant to suspicious and hostile. She made phone calls and I waited for the stone-faced security to arrive and tell me "Please come with us."

"Please come with us," they told me.

I followed them to the metal detector where they ran both my bags through the x-ray machine and made me walk through the metal detector twice. On the other side of the x-ray machine they began opening one of my bags. My sketchbook with my cartoons and drawings was in this bag. I had debated taking this with me or not, knowing it might cause a problem. But hey, Israel is a country of freedom of speech, right? I should be able to draw as I please without being a threat to security, right? So I took it, and now I was watching a bunch of pissed off border police flip through and ask me why do I draw like this? After they thoroughly searched one bag, they asked me if all of the stuff with me was mine. "Some of it is my friend's stuff that I am taking to him in Egypt." The border police looked at each other with raised eyebrows. "But don't worry; it's all been with me, at my house, for the last 3 months. I know what all of it is and I can show it to you. He stayed with me, left some of his stuff and now I am taking it to him."

At that point they took me away from my possessions and put me in the strip search room. I was thoroughly strip-searched and when I was allowed back out, I began to realize something was very wrong. All at once, after being alerted to something, about 8 of the security people all freaked out and ran off somewhere, quite an unsettling thing to see. I asked one who was still me what was going on. He told me not to worry and that everything was ok. "How can you tell me not to worry when 8 of your people just freaked out like that?" I asked. No answer. I waited for a while and then I was given one of my backpacks and my passport. At this point, if I had wanted to, I could have just left the terminal and gone to Egypt. Nothing and nobody was preventing me. But they had the other bag and I wanted to wait for it, of course.

I was made to wait inside the entrance to the Israeli side of theterminal. There were about 8 border police blocking the door. They would not let anyone in or out. I asked one of them about my other bag, he said the police had to come and check it but I could have it back after they checked it.

I waited.

Other people crossing from Egypt to Israel were lining up to leave inside. The border police would not let them leave. I saw a police van outside. At first there were maybe 15 people waiting inside. Then 30,then 100. There was a public announcement in Hebrew and English saying there was suspicious package that the police were checking out and that this was the cause of the delay. I heard an explosion. I began to feel uneasy. Then I heard another one.

Neta called me. I told her "Neta, the police have one of my bags. They aren't letting anyone leave the terminal, there's a police van parked outside and I just heard two explosions, I'm afraid they exploded my bag.

"Don't worry," she reassured me, "if they really thought you had a bomb, they would have arrested you by now." She's right, I thought… I have my passport; I could just leave if I wanted to. No one spoke to me; no one asked me a single question about where I was going or what was in my bag.

After about an hour, a police officer informed me they had exploded my bag.


I was crying at this point. Some of the female border police began laughing at me. The officer told me I would be reimbursed for the cost of the stuff that had been exploded.

"How do you know how much it was worth??? You EXPLODED It BEFORE YOU EVEN HAD A CHANCE TO LOOK"

"Don't worry," he told me, "Just go to the Eilat police station and they will give you a report and you can get money back."

Well there was nothing I could do at that point. There was some of mineand some of Jonas's stuff in that bag. Some of my original artwork too that I was giving him as a gift.

I made a list of everything:
Original art
Rainbow kuffiya
3 books
Fire poi
Bike light
3 shirts
Lens cap for camera

I'm sure they feel like they thwarted a terrorist plot. All they did was waste a lot of people's time and money. Maybe it was because they didn't like my cartoons? I don't know. "

(end Katie's story)

So, as if it couldn't get any worse, now I am without about 1200 dollars worth of my belongings. My plan was to get back right away to Egypt and sit down at the computer and do some of the tasks I was doing in Palestine but from Cairo: sending e-mails, updating the website, compiling digests, editing reports, uploading photos and video… anything I could do to help. But it all went up in smoke, with the Israeli border authorities giving new meaning to: Your Hard Drive is Fried.

So I will try and start again. Subdue my frustration. Breathe deep. Like a kidney stone, just Let it pass.

**If anyone out there would like to help me get a new laptop to continueworking, please let me know.I am accepting PayPal donations at this email: Or contact me for other donation methods.**

Thanks to everyone out there who has been so supportive thus far! This is just another twist in the road. But I have anti-lock breaks and I know how to use them!

From Egypt with Love,

Saturday, August 18, 2007


I would like to take a moment to thank shelves of books...

...for providing a way of getting to know someone.

...for being one of the best ways to wile away time at house parties when you don't feel like talking to anyone.

...for evidencing the things we have known and the things we want to know.

(Oh, and doesn't even hold a candle.)

Sunday, August 12, 2007


"Well, I mean...I've loved books forever, and so I love words, and so this makes sense. And it's just paper. I live in San Francisco, so dealing with glass is really out of the question--all those stacks of plates and saucers and things. Dealing with glass really freaks me out, even just getting near it, really. And furniture's too heavy. Anyway, this stuff [gesturing around her at bins full of filed, celo-covered pieces of paper] is so much more interesting than glass or wood. The thing about paper is that it is supposed to be ephemeral but I've got pieces here that are more than 120 years old and they look brand new. It's magical."

--one of the dealers at Hal Lutsky's Vintage Paper Fair, which, this past weekend, was visiting the County Fair Building in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park

Sunday, August 5, 2007

9/11 Research

I'm working on a short story about 9/11 right now which is kind of weird for many reasons--not the story but the working on it--particularly because 9/11 isn't entirely the focus of the story and also because in my procrastination as I work, I've been finding things like this image to the left. I also found this, which I'm not posting directly since it seems a little tasteless--still fascinating, though. I've also been watching clips from that morning on youtube, an activity which has proved more disturbing than originally anticipated.