When President Clinton made her his Secretary of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala became the first Arab-American member of a presidential cabinet. That background as well as her formidable résumé in academia—she was the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin (go Badgers!) and is currently the president of the University of Miami—gave her massive credibility when, last month, she traveled to Israel and spoke out strongly against Israeli boycotts. “Whether it’s disinvestment or a boycott against Israeli academics,” Shalala, the daughter of Maronite Lebanese, said then, “it’s inappropriate and not worthy of any educational institution.”
Given all this, maybe she should have been greeted a little more hospitably? Shalala is now claiming that, despite the fact that her host, the American Jewish Congress, had notified authorities ahead of time who she was, she was detained and questioned intensively for over two hours upon her arrival at Ben Gurion Airport last month, apparently because of her Arab last name.
It is not clear if the Israeli government has since offered an apology; certainly, Shalala is owed one.
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.