The Activists' Fly-in Stop the Israeli Isolationist Flotilla

This is what the world sees: Israel is becoming the old Albania, a fortified destination with a thought police at its gates and a demonstrations police on its borders.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

The danger is tangible. It is approaching our shores at alarming speed. It is approaching us from the air, from the sea and from the land and nobody can stop it. Someone must do something, quickly. Warning, danger! Israel is losing its senses.

We had not yet finished celebrating our victories - killing those who sought to cross the border on Nakba Day, thwarting the flotilla to Gaza, not handing bodies over to the Palestinians and saving Amir Peretz from a British prison - when we were already forced to prepare for the next existential threat: activists flying in from Europe.

Here's a safe bet: We're going to win another sweeping victory. The public security minister said "hooligans," the police commissioner promised that "we won't treat them gently." The prime minister held a special "security" consultation before taking off for Romania and hundreds of policemen and security guards, both uniformed and plainclothes, as well as Shin Bet and Mossad agents deployed in Ben-Gurion Airport.

Our next great victory is already assured. Early yesterday afternoon, our forces scored their first triumph on the battlefield: Five activists were expelled.

If it weren't so sad, it would be funny. Israel is becoming grotesque. Nonviolent demonstrators, some of them well-wishers, who pose no threat to Israel's security, wish to go to Gaza, some by sea and some by air. Yet they are being portrayed as enemies of the state and of the people, not to mention of all humanity. Israel is employing its entire arsenal of tricks to prevent them from carrying out their legitimate protest.

First Israel magnifies the danger, then it legitimizes all means against it. And finally, it glorifies the achievement of destroying it.

But the truth is the opposite. Israel's hysterical responses have magnified the protest, which few in the world would have noticed had Israel not taken all these absurd measures against it.

This is the picture the world sees: Israel is becoming the old Albania, a fortified destination with a thought police at its gates and a demonstrations police on its borders. Israel has already tightened surveillance on those entering it in recent years and has deported visitors solely for their views, from a famous Spanish clown to a renowned Jewish-American intellectual.

The Israeli public responds to such acts with yawning indifference, as though it were the norm in the enlightened world to deny people entry due to their opinions.

If this is how things proceed in ordinary times, imagine what will happen today and tomorrow in Ben-Gurion's live-fire zone. How will the all-knowing security forces know which visitor is a "pro-Palestinian activist" and which an ordinary tourist come to relax on our beaches? How will they distinguish between an Israel-loving Frenchwoman and a Palestine-loving Frenchwoman? By her dress? Her accent? And why does it even matter?

What would have happened if Israel had ignored the provocation and invited everyone to come, to travel to the territories, to visit Tel Aviv, to demonstrate lawfully, to do whatever they pleased and visit the West Bank freely? Nothing.

But that behavior is foreign to the Israel of recent years. Openness? Not us. Understanding that strangers are also allowed to protest and demonstrate? Not here.

The people who will land at Ben-Gurion Airport today and tomorrow are coming at the call of conscience. They say they only mean to visit the territories; that is their right, perhaps even their duty, and there is no reason or justification for preventing it. When they hold protests in other states of iniquity, many Israelis understand and even admire their courageous civic engagement.

But not in our backyard, whose gates are closing to the world and barring entrance to critics. Do we really want only Hadassah women and Birthright youth to visit here?

This dangerous flotilla threatening Israel must be stopped quickly. This Israeli flotilla - introversion, entrenchment, idiocy and menacing the whole world - endangers Israel more than any invasion of foreign activists. It will disarm Israel of its most valuable weapon: being an open, enlightened society.

A thousand policemen in Ben-Gurion Airport can't quash this danger. A thousand people deported from Ben-Gurion will only bring it closer.



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