Israel is now a nation governed by its reptilian brain. In response to the slightest challenge, it lashes out as though in each and every moment, its life were under threat.
Israel now only has one way of responding to criticism: to accuse its critics of being violent. By claiming critics are by their nature violent, violence then becomes the state’s necessary and unavoidable form of defense.
Israel has no political answers to its political critics — only the use of force, tear gas, detention, deportation and the occasional bullet in the head.
Having presented the arrival of a few hundred European tourists as a violent threat, Israeli paranoia thereafter needed some form of ‘proof’ for justifying its fears, thus today the Israeli press if filled with headlines like this:
Foreign pro-Palestinian activists clash with IDF in West Bank
Joseph Dana questions whether their is any basis for the reports. And in the video below showing “clashes” yesterday between non-violent protesters and the IDF, it’s clear that objective and accurate reporting would describe such events with very different language and headlines like this:
IDF attacks unarmed protesters in the West Bank
According to media reports carried by all major news outlets in Israel, four ‘air flotilla’ passengers were arrested/detained Saturday in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh during an unarmed demonstration this morning. Haaretz, in its headline story, is citing reports by Channel 10 (Heb), that four ‘air flotilla’ activists have been taken for questioning after they had been arrested in the demonstration. The Jerusalem Post, citing unnamed ‘organizers’, claims that air flotilla passengers are clashing with security forces in Nabi Saleh. The paper does not cite the name of the organizations that the ‘organizers’ are representatives of. Ynet is reporting that activists might be involved in demonstrations in Nabi Saleh and Qalandiya but they provide nothing to substantiate their claims. None of these reports seem to based on facts on the ground in Nabi Saleh.
Kobi Snitz, an Israeli activist with the Anarchists Against the Wall, told me by telephone from Nabi Saleh that he has not seen any ‘air flotilla’ passenger in the course of the day. He told me that four people were indeed arrested, but they were all Israeli Jews from Tel Aviv. In fact, the Israeli activists are being charged with assaulting soldiers despite clear video footage to the contrary according to Snitz. Snitz did comment that there were international activists present in the demonstration but ‘they were definitively not arrested or taken in by Israeli forces.” Other villagers in Nabi Saleh told to me that they were unaware that ‘air flotilla’ passengers were present in their demonstration today. I have not been able to reach anyone present at the Qalandiya demonstration at the time of this writing.
News outlets often make mistakes and +972 is no exception. However, it is strange for a story that is based almost entirely on unsubstantiated reports to become the headline of every major newspaper website in Israel. When rumors of arrests of air flotilla passengers began this morning, Yossi Gurvitz contacted the IDF spokesman for a confirmation of the story. He was given a categorical rejection of claims that air flotilla passengers were targeted for arrest in the West Bank. No comment was given about air flotilla activists involved in demonstrations in Nabi Saleh.
Shir Hever notes:
The hundreds of activists being deported from Israel’s airport, or denied the right to board the planes to begin with, are mostly European citizens, who have the same right which every Israeli enjoys when visiting Europe. As an Israeli citizen, I can take a plane to any European country without worrying about being denied entry. I don’t need to lie at the airport. Tens of thousands of demonstrators who fly to G8 meetings to protest them are also not denied entry. Still, European citizens visiting Israel and even more so if they are visiting the OPT, are interrogated, placed under surveillance and political controls.
The European Union has a reciprocity policy regarding countries whose citizens enjoy a free visa, and expects these countries to offer the same treatment to European citizens that Europe awards their citizens. So far, European governments (as well as the Canadian and US governments) do not concern themselves too much with the rights of their own citizens in Israel.
A proper response by France, Germany and the UK to the current mass deportations would be to suspend the visa agreement with Israel and demand that every Israeli citizen apply for a visa (like citizens of most countries in Africa and Asia), until Israel gives its reasons for expelling each and every activist who wishes to visit the OPT. Such a response is sure to remind the Israeli public that control over the Palestinian population in the OPT also carries responsibilities, and abusing those responsibilities carries consequences.