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Hundreds to challenge restrictions on traveling to Occupied Territories

Israel is not yet done with the second flotilla, and a new effort to challenge its control over the travel to and from Palestinian Territories might take place this week – in no other place than the Tel Aviv International Airport

This post was updated.

A coalition of organizations has made public [French, PDF] its intention to have hundreds of international activists land at Ben-Gurion airport this Friday, July 8th, and openly declare their intention to visit the West Bank.

Until now, visitors coming in solidarity with the Palestinians had to conceal their destination when questioned at the airport, or risk immediate deportation. A couple of years ago, American scholar Noam Chomsky was denied entry to Israel at the Jordanian border, after declaring his intention to give a lecture at Ramallah’s Bir Zeit University.

The closure over the West Bank works in the opposite direction as well: Many don’t know it, but Israel controls all air and land entries to the West Bank, not only to Gaza. Palestinians wishing to travel abroad must apply for special permission from the Israel authorities. Those wishing to travel to the United States must first obtain a permit to visit the American Consulate in East Jerusalem and obtain their visa.

Human rights organizations have often cited the complete authority over entries and exits from the occupied territories as further proof of Israel’s effective control over Palestinians’ lives, in stark contradiction to the claim that since the Oslo agreement, “Palestinians run their own business.”

The organizations planning the protest at Ben-Gurion airport have declared that 600 activists have already bought tickets to Israel, but so far I haven’t been able to confirm this. When I have more details, I will report them.

UPDATE I: The Israeli media picked up the event, describing it as another provocation (Maariv) or a plan for a riot at the airport (walla.co.il). a senior police officer told Maariv that currently there is an effort to gather names of the activists planning to fly to Israel, with the intention to prevent them from boarding their flights. as for the rest, “we will refuse to allow them entry to Israel for security reasons,” the police officer told Maariv.

UPDATE II: mondoweiss has posted an article from one of the participants in the planned protest at Ben Gurion airport:

While Freedom Flotilla 2, sailing in the coming days, rightly puts the spotlight on Israel’s cruel blockade of Gaza, we intend to show that Israeli repression in the rest of historic Palestine—the West Bank, Jerusalem, and what is now Israel—is no less important and is part of the same project of ethnic cleansing and colonization.

The opening act of our week of nonviolent resistance is, in my opinion, its most creative and daring component.  On a single day, July 8, hundreds of internationals and Palestinians living abroad will fly in to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport and perform one simple but radical action: refuse to lie about the fact that we are there to travel to the Occupied Territories and visit Palestinians.

(…)

Some fellow activists have raised the possibility that this action will result in nothing more than hundreds of us being summarily deported, and possibly banned from entering Palestine in the future.  It is entirely possible that this will happen, and anyone participating in this action should be aware of the risk.  It seems to me a very small risk to take in comparison to the crushing violence Palestinians have stood up to for over 60 years.  While this action is not for everyone, I believe the time is right for those in a position to expose and nonviolently resist Israel’s repressive entry policies to do so on a mass scale.

Israeli activists are planning to wait for the participants of the protest at the Ben Gurion Airport reception hall.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Holden

      Everyone knows about this attempt to confound Israel authorities by mass convergence @ Ben Gurion. You may be sure that extra precautions will be in place and that a large and secure holding facility at the airport will be there to welcome would-be trouble makers. Also there will be more intensive pre-screening, which sadly may inconvenience other more honest travelers, but I think most right-thinking people understand.

      Reply to Comment
    2. David

      The flotilla was supposed to bring over a thousand people. In the end nothing.
      IF 600 land at Ben Gurion ( with Easy Jet from the UK ?! ), which I doubt, they will just be brought into the bowels of the airport and will be processed through the system.
      I can imagine that other arrivals may well get irate at TLV, I hope the police protects the anti-Israel activist. We would not wish to see scuffles at the baggage belt.

      Reply to Comment
    3. NormanF

      Radical leftists are delusional. No country will allow its sovereignty to be breached. Israel will take all the necessary measures to see to it hostile elements can’t enter the country to harm it and its people.

      And its not going to win them any friends in Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    4. DeIr Yassin

      If everything goes as planned, Palestinians from all over the world, North- and South America, Europe and Asia will be on the flights to Ben Gourion too.

      In the video posted by Noam Sheizaf [French, PDF], Palestinian kids sing a famous song by Fairuz, including the words:
      min al-nâs al-attarîn (from the waiting people)
      I’ve heard some folks waited 2000 years to ‘return to their ancestral homeland’.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Shoded Yam

      Hey uh, Norm,
      .
      re. “…Radical leftists are delusional. No country will allow its sovereignty to be breached. Israel will take all the necessary measures to see to it hostile elements can’t enter the country to harm it and its people.
      And its not going to win them any friends in Israel.”
      .
      That not the point of the action, sparky. The point is to get the gov’t of Israel and folks like yourself to react, thereby bringing attention to your attitudes and their cause. Hell. You just demonstrated that these guys don’t even have to actually do anything to get you worked up. All they have to do is talk about showing up at the airport, and already you’re starting with the melodrama and the histrionics, waxing Churchillian; “..We shall fight on the beaches and in the streets, we shall never surrender”. What a tool. :-D LOL

      Reply to Comment
    6. When humanitarian action, peaceful resistance and camera’s have become the greatest threat to New Sparta, something is definitely changing. What will happen if the world realizes that there are Palestinian intellectuals, artists, real human beings? And so many that Israel can’t hide them behind some scary Hamas fighters? Will they finally understand that Einstein wouldn’t have been Einstein without algebra?

      Reply to Comment
    7. Sylvia

      Welcome. It is up to the organizers to make sure no candidates to martyrdom are on those planes. We wouldn’t want those humanitarians blowing up in the air now would we? THAT would be too embarrassing.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Shoded Yam

      “..It is up to the organizers to make sure no candidates to martyrdom are on those planes. We wouldn’t want those humanitarians blowing up in the air now would we? THAT would be too embarrassing.”
      .
      Victimhood masquerading as bravado. OY GEVALT!!! Awake and Arise Ye Citizens of Chelm!!! Alice Walker’s comin’ to kill us!! :-) LOL. Yeah. The holocaust survivor’s gonna blow himself up at the airport. Get a grip. No one’s buying it.

      Reply to Comment
    9. directrob

      Sylvia,
      Your factual statement is false, it is up to air port security. The rest of your contribution is a collection weasel words aimed to connect the organizers with terror acts.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Sam Smith

      Are they flying into Damascus as well? How about protesting the rocket that was fired out of Gaza yesterday?
      Didn’t think so.
      They’ll get what they deserve: a night in the slammer and a 10-year ban on entering Israel. Which means a couple hundred less wackos to deal with for a while.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Shoded Yam

      “…Which means a couple hundred less wackos to deal with for a while.”
      .
      Good point. I mean why go out for milk when you got a cow at home? :-P

      Reply to Comment
    12. Saed Butrus

      when I land in Tel Aviv, I will even refuse an israeli stamp in my passport. I will ask for a Palestinian stamp

      Reply to Comment
    13. yesspam

      Are they flying into Damascus as well?

      Well they could fly into the airport in Gaza, if it hadn’t been destroyed by Israeli warplanes.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Rachel

      Although I tend to agree with a lot of the content on +972, this particular action seems quite stupid and counterproductive: yes, there is a huge problem with the way Israeli airport security is overextended and carried out in a manner designed to cause maximum humiliation and harassment of ordinary Palestinians and anybody else the state is not 100% lacks right wing Zionist credentials, but surely the problem here is the state’s unwillingness to differentiate between travelers such as these and travelers who clearly fall into the category of potential security threat by being avowed activists or coming to Israel mainly to get involved in political action in the occupied territories?

      It seems to me as if this only strengthens the arguments from the right about the need for such unreasonable security measures because by coming in a bloc on this kind of mission, the activists fall into such a category; it is obvious that they would be removed from pretty much any country they tried to enter with these intentions, highlighting the need for airport security in the first place rather than highlighting the highly unjust way it affects ordinary people forced to travel through the airport to go about their daily business.

      Reply to Comment
    15. modechai ben yosef

      So Rachel, Israel is the Jewish Homeland for the Jews with the correct political view.God forbid there exists “avowed activists,” and those who “get involved in political action in the occupied territories.” Seriously Rachel, can this be called “democracy?” Can democracy exist without avowed activists and political action?

      Reply to Comment
    16. David

      STRIP SEARCH!
      “Bend over please, Sir.”

      Reply to Comment
    17. Shoded Yam

      STRIP SEARCH!
      “Bend over please, Sir
      .
      You’re wallowing in absurdity. On one hand you’re wetting your nappies because a bunch old people, holocaust survivors, and granola munchers want to show up at your airport and on the other you’re army officers are afraid of showing up at anyone elses airport. As far as I can ascertain, the only people taking it in the rear, are people like yourself. The interesting thing here is, that while one usually hears about people doing this to each other, one almost never hears about someone doing it to themselves. :-D LOL

      Reply to Comment
    18. This planned action will not win any converts: since 9/11 most people have some trepidation about flying and any little disturbance at airports is felt like a life threatening event. Yes, you may disrupt life as usual at Ben Gurion but it will translate as a potential threat everywhere. I honestly hope the organizers have thought this through meticulously but, ever since those “peace” activist’s shenanigans on the Mavi Marmara this seems doubtful.

      Reply to Comment
    19. Shoded Yam

      “…This planned action will not win any converts”
      .
      Again. Missing the point. This action wasn’t meant as a recruitment drive. Much like the Mavi Marmara incident, it was meant to illicit a certain reaction from the Israeli gov’t and people like you. Judging by the diplomatic acrobatics that the Israeli gov’t has undertaken with the Greeks recently and the rather (comparatively speaking) subdued performance of passport control officers at Ben Gurion at this very moment, it would appear the powers that be have taken the lesson of the Mavi Marmara to heart. Unfortunately, the cat is already out of the bag, and such actions at this point are largely irrelevant, since the entire affair was designed around and predicated upon known Israeli attitudes and past behaviours. As such it is a Catch-22, whereby any Israeli reponse will be seen as out-of-control paranoia. You lose.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Shoded Yam

      “…As such it is a Catch-22, whereby any Israeli reponse will be seen as out-of-control paranoia. You lose.”
      .
      Mea Culpa. I was in a rush and this wasn’t expressed properly. It should read, “…As such it is a Catch-22, whereby a subdued Israeli reponse can be spun as a victory for the activists and an out-of-control response as the usual Israeli paranoia.”
      .
      You still lose.

      Reply to Comment
    21. Rachel

      @Mordechai: Look, I’m not saying anything about who Israel exists for, those are your words not mine. What I’m saying is that responsible activism involves action likely to bring about some specific positive change rather than just being disruptive behaviour; this will only inconvenience the security personnel in a very small, temporary way and isn’t going to convince anyone that it’s unjust to ban activists from entering the West Bank because it won’t be clear from the coverage what these activists intend to do once there and whether that really does represent a security issue or not; obviously there are constructive ways to engage in activism but there are also activists who do more harm than good and this particular action seems to make it very easy for the media to lump both kinds together. Democracy should be upheld, obviously, but concerns over security and terrorism aren’t baseless either, to suggest that would be naive.

      Reply to Comment
    22. max

      Shoded,
      Perfect logic but the base is a tower in the air.
      .
      Thousands of visitors come every year with a clear WB destination on their tourist papers.
      Only those assessed to be trouble seekers are turned back.
      .
      So of those that will come, most will be allowed to go to the WB, and some will be returned.
      As always. As in any country who rejects trouble makers.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Shoded Yam

      “…As always. As in any country who rejects trouble makers’
      .
      I’m afraid not, jackson. We’re not talking about just any country, we’re talking about the self-proclaimed; “light unto the nations”. There are only 2 axioms that hold any water in modern journalism; “If it bleeds, it leads” and “Jews are News”. The activists are well aware of their media impact (clearly as are you) Israel’s seemingly docile responses, magnafied and exacerbated in real time by youtube, twitter and Facebook.
      .
      “….As always. As in any country who rejects trouble makers.”
      .
      Who cares? No ones seems to be intersted. Hence the reason that Tel Aviv seems to be everybodies favorite port-of-call. Yes. Max. We’d all like a different reality, unfortunately this is the one your stuck with. You chose the neighborhood. Don’t like it? Move.

      Reply to Comment
    24. max

      Well, Shoded, we seem to agree that it’s about the Jewish question, not so much Israel…

      Reply to Comment
    25. Shoded Yam

      “…Well, Shoded, we seem to agree that it’s about the Jewish question, not so much Israel”
      .
      Thats cute, but its also a cheap shot, and as usual Max, intellectually disingenuous. The activists are not responsible for these conventions in the media,(and if anybody is, it would be Jews themselves, rather than anyone else) but there is no reason they shouldn’t use them for their own benefit. If jews and Israelis do not want the spotlight upon them 24/7, than they should stop behaving as if they do.

      Reply to Comment
    26. max

      That’s risible.
      The activists are doing it only because they know that Jewish News will make it to the media and they risk nothing.
      How long have the French activists been active when the gypsies were deported? When the blacks were brutally pulled away from the public squares? How long did it stay in the news?
      It wasn’t Jews but French police – no news and high risk.

      Reply to Comment
    27. Shoded Yam

      Obiter Dictum. Your response is a study in irrelevancy. You’re like a big kid flailing around in 3 feet of water. Again. The activists cannot be faulted for using whatever tools happen to be available. If you don’t want the neighbors borrowing the Black & Decker Jig Saw, you shouldn’t have invented one in the first place. :-D

      Reply to Comment
    28. max

      Shoded, I’m not faulting the activists more than I fault a thief who came in through an unlocked door. I’m simply pointing out that while the house owner should have locked the door, the thief is still a thief – Ratio decidendi.

      Reply to Comment
    29. Shoded Yam

      “…I’m simply pointing out that while the house owner should have locked the door, the thief is still a thief – Ratio decidendi.”
      .
      You’re like Nureyev in “The Bullsh*t Ballet”.
      Theres no house, no unlocked door, and no thief. Just alot of double standards and duplicity.

      Reply to Comment
    30. max

      I sadly realize that you ran out of arguments :(

      Reply to Comment
    31. Shoded Yam

      Actually, I made my case rather well. You on the other hand never had one to begin with, all the half-assed hasbara and pseudo-intellectual sophistry notwithstanding.
      .
      When I was a kid, my grandmother would take me along on her errands. One day we paid a vist to the shochet. I was fascinated. He’d grab the chicken and with one deft motion, slice its head off with a very sharp razor. But the most amazing thing was that the chicken would continue to walk around without a head for several seconds before it would collapse. I’m reminded of this Max, as you’re behaviour often reminds of a chicken with its head cut off. You’re like that chicken Max. You don’t know when your dead. LOL

      Reply to Comment
    32. Mordecahi Ben Yosef

      Rachel, they are not my words, but the words uttered in the establishment of Israel. It proclaims itself a Jewish State, a formulation it insists everyone else must accept. Those who balk are “terrorist.” Who defines “responsible activism?” Should it be the State that is the target of the activism? In the US civil rights struggle, southern state governments made the same arguments you make. The airport action and boat actions are not formulated to convince Israeli Jews. We Jews are and always will be a tiny minority in this world, and to shut out the world with walls and blockades does not make us a majority, no matter how prolific the orthodox, or how many young Jewish women are impregnated on billionaire sponsored feel good tours to Israel. Security concerns are real, but when the security apparatus tries to kill dissent,the security of all is destroyed.

      Reply to Comment
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