August 15, 2008
As a young Palestinian from Gaza, I had been eagerly anticipating the opportunity to study at the University of California San Diego on a Fulbright scholarship. The chance to escape Gaza's confines and immerse myself in an American education was deeply thrilling. With Israel controlling Gaza's border exits, air space and sea access – notwithstanding its “pullout” of 2005 – I imagined the long, open roads of the United States and its people's unchallenged freedom of movement.
I love my people and my homeland, but a young person needs opportunities. These are far more abundant in the United States than in the besieged Gaza Strip.
Last week, I landed in Washington, D.C., brimming with optimism. Upon arrival, I was whisked into a separate room. An American official informed me that he had just received information about me that he could not reveal. However, it required him to put me on the next plane home. I was shocked. And I was taken aback at the cruelty of snatching away my educational dreams at the last possible moment.