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Israeli Security Labels American Professor Terrorist, Then Realizes It Was Mistaken Identity
Richard Silverstein
Tikun Olam

Today, Haaretz confirms what I suspected yesterday, that the American professor forced to endure a full body search and whose privacy was invaded by a male officer entering the examination room while she was partially naked, was confused with another person. There are a lot of Heather Bradshaws in the world. That Shabak, which ordered the humiating treatment for Prof. Bradshaw, didn’t realize this after she presented her passport displaying four previous entry stamps for Israel, an academic conference invitation and other documentation proving her identity, attests either to incompetence or utter indifference (or both).

But there is something that makes no sense about the new Haaretz story, which says the following:

American prof. subjected to intense El Al search shares name of pro-Iran activist, Haaretz learns

Haaretz learned yesterday that there is an American activist of the same name who has been working on behalf of Iranian and Pakistani exiles and is involved in resettling them in the United States….It is thought that this other Heather Bradshaw may have appeared on a list that resulted in the close security scrutiny.

How many activists do you know who are involved in resettling Iranian refugees are “pro-Iranian?” That part of the story makes no sense. Either Shabak considers anyone who is involved in any way with Iran, regardless of their politics, as a potential security threat to Israel. Or this is a bogus claim. Frankly, I’ve tried to find this mysterious Heather Bradshaw online. You’d think such an activist would’ve left some kind of online trail. I don’t know many activists whose work isn’t documented in some way online.

Is this Shabak`s mystery Heather Bradshaw?
The only Heather Bradshaw I’ve been able to identify who remotely fits this bill isn’t American and doesn’t appear to be resettling refugees, let alone Iranian and Pakistanis. But as I noted in yesterday’s post, this Heather Bradshaw may have had the “misfortune” (in the Shabak’s eyes) of being raised in remote villages in Iran, Pakistan and Libya because her father was a public heath specialist:

Ms. Bradshaw spent her early childhood in the remote hills and dusty towns and villages of Iran, Pakistan, and Libya where her father often worked to use technology to bring clean drinking water, refrigeration, employment, skills, and more sustainable livelihoods to people who had not yet experienced these benefits.

As I wrote yesterday, I don’t know that this is the Shabak’s Heather Bradshaw. But it sounds at least plausible. And if I am right, then this makes the error even more incredible since this is a British PhD student whose online bio lists no current activities whatsoever having anything to do with the Middle East other than performing “aid work” (no region specified). It is frankly astonishing that a single sentence published online about one’s childhood can land one in hot soup with the Shabak.

I’ve been trying to find Zohar Blumenkrantz’s e mail to ask him about this Bradshaw and what he knows about her. But Haaretz doesn’t offer an e mail address. If any readers know how to reach this Haaretz reporter please let me know. I’ve also e mailed Prof. Bradshaw who appears to be still in Israel at her conference.

UPDATE: The Hebrew version of the Haaretz article linked above appears much more credible in that it states that Prof. Bradshaw was confused with another Heather Bradshaw who is a human rights activist involved in helping Iranian and Pakistani refugees. Nothing about this Heather Bradshaw being “pro-Iranian,” which simply didn’t make sense. All of which means that if you’re any type of human rights activist working in the Middle East, no matter what your politics, you’ve viewed as a threat to Israel. Crazy, isn’t it?

In the article, Prof. Arik Rimmerman, who filed a complaint with El Al on Prof. Bradshaw’s behalf, says about the case of mistaken identity:

If Prof. Bradshaw’s ill treatment did stem from a case of mistaken identity, then this troubles even more because they treated the misidentified person as a potential terrorist despite the fact that all the facts confirmed that it was otherwise.

Of course, not a word from Rimmerman questioning why a human rights activist, not even working in any field concerning Israel, would be treated as a potential terrorist.

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