August 16, 2018


Beinart's airport questioning: No mistake, just a fadiha*: Netanyahu doesn't think the policy is wrong -- he's just sorry it was applied to a prominent Jew (Yonatan Gher, AUG 15, 2018, Times of Israel)

It's obviously helpful that prominent organizations condemned Beinart's detention, but it also raises the question: Why just now? I'll focus for a minute on the response by Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League quoted in the above link. He said that: "Accepting wide-ranging views and advocacy strengthens commitment to a democratic Jewish state. Questioning those who may hold divergent views when entering or exiting Israel does the opposite." He then added that Netanyahu's response was "an important start."

I just checked in with Tanya Rubinstein, general-coordinator of the Coalition of Women for Peace, who was questioned in a similar fashion when she returned from a conference in Stockholm this past May. She says, nope, no letters from a Jonathan Greenblatt. I imagine I would get the same answer from Yehudit Ilani, a human rights activist, who had a similar experience two weeks after Tanya. Considering Simone Zimmerman, former Bernie Sanders adviser, has a little bit of history with the ADL, I guess it's no surprise that they did not speak out when she experience similar Shin Bet questioning last week.

Tanya's questioning, marking the first in this current wave, was described in the Haaretz article as an "unusual incident." Lest we forget that the only unusual thing about it was that it happened to a Jewish-Israeli citizen. For Palestinian-Israeli activists, let alone Palestinian-Palestinian activists, this would be their quite usual Ben Gurion experience.

Let's be very clear: when Netanyahu says this was a mistake, he does not mean the policy is a mistake. He means its application to Peter Beinart was a mistake. This policy is part of a broader "us vs. them" strategy. Palestinians are "them." Those who support Palestinian rights -- human or political -- is "them." Anyone who opposes government policy is "them." All these "thems" are evil. They oppose Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and "would have us all thrown into the sea." So they are not worthy of enjoying such privileges as freedom of expression, as afforded to the "us" -- being those who use their freedom of expression in praise of leader and state.

Posted by at August 16, 2018 1:50 PM