Friday, 6 August 2010

U. of Miami President Halted at Israeli Airport


GOLBAL NEWS TICKER August 6, 2010, 11:06 AM ET

University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala was detained and interrogated for two hours at Ben-Gurion Airport on her way back to the U.S. after a visit to Israel last month, according to the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth. She was subjected to a "humiliating" security debriefing because of her Arab last name, the newspaper reports.

The former U.S. secretary of health and human services, under President Clinton, had been among a delegation of U.S. university presidents organized in part to protest the academic boycott of Israeli universities, and to discuss a new medical school being built in northern Israel as a joint venture between Miami and Israel's Bar-Ilan University.

Her hosts said they had told airport officials that she was expected. Ben-Gurion security officials said they had no record of the incident.

Ms. Shalala said after returning to the U.S. that she expected the joint venture to encourage more travel to Israel. "My hope is that faculty members will go back and forth, that students will go back and forth, that researchers will go back and forth, and to some extent that patients will go back and forth, because many of our patients spend considerable time in Israel," she told Miami Today.

UPDATE: Ms. Shalala issued the following statement about the incident after this article was published: "While I was inconvenienced, Israel's security and the security of travelers is far more important. I have been going in and out of Israel for many years and expect to visit again."

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