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Tamari said she was searched, placed in a holding cell and flown back to the U.S. the following day. “The idea that somebody my age, a Quaker, on a peace delegation with folks from the U.S., would be denied entry _ that never crossed my mind,” she said.

Najwa Doughman, a 25-year-old Palestinian American from New York City, said she underwent a similar experience when she arrived for a one-week vacation on May 26.

A female interrogator ordered Doughman to open her Gmail account, threatening she would be deported if she didn’t.

“She typed in and she turned the keyboard toward me and said, ‘Log in. Log in now,’” Doughman recounted. “I asked, ‘Is this legal?’ She said, ‘Log in.’”

She said the agent searched for keywords like “West Bank” and “Palestine” and made fun of a chat in which Doughman talked of reading graffiti on Israel’s West Bank separation barrier.

“After she read a bunch of stuff, humiliating and mocking me, I said, ‘I think you’ve read enough,’” Doughman said, adding that agents jotted down names and emails of her friends as they inspected her chat history.

Doughman’s traveling companion, Sasha Al-Sarabi, said agents pulled her aside and checked out her Facebook page.

Both women said they were approached because of their Arab family names, and were repeatedly asked about the nature of their visit, and whether they planned to go to the West Bank and participate in anti-Israel demonstrations.

While acknowledging she belonged to Palestinian activist groups when she was in college, Doughman said she insisted the one-week visit was purely for a vacation.

“The interrogator asked me, ‘Do you feel more Arab or more American? … Surely you must feel more Arab,” Doughman said. “I told her I was born in the U.S. and studied there, but she didn’t like my answer.”

After hours of questioning, both women were told they would not be allowed in. They said they were subjected to strip searches, placed in a detention center and sent back to the U.S. the following day. Doughman said they weren’t allowed to call the U.S. Embassy.

American Embassy spokesman Kurt Hoyer said the embassy does not comment on specific cases. But he said the embassy is “usually” contacted whenever an American citizen is not allowed to enter Israel, or any other country.

The embassy typically remains in contact with local authorities throughout the process until a decision on entry is made.

He said the U.S. stresses to all governments “to treat American passport holders as Americans, regardless of their ethnic origin … At the same time, any sovereign nation has the right to decide who to let in, and not to let in.”

Tamari and Doughman’s cases were first reported on the left-wing blog Mondoweiss.

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