It was meant to be a Palestinian PR dream. Over 2,000 activists scheduled to converge on Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport, arriving on planes from around the world as part of a “Welcome to Palestine” flytilla.
Israel had done its homework, however. No-fly lists of potential activists sent to airlines prevented many from even boarding their flights at the point of departure. What could have been a major international incident turned from a flytilla into a floptilla, the lack of action described by The Times of Israel reporting from Ben-Gurion Airport:
But by mid-morning, nothing much was happening. Nothing had been happening for quite some time, reported an Associated Press TV cameraman in the arrivals hall who had replaced another cameraman who had watched nothing happen for most of the night. …
There were no fewer than 13 TV cameras and about 30 journalists around the terminal, bored and standing around in clumps. Anyone expecting Tahrir Square was presented instead with “Waiting for Godot.”
Indeed, the story barely registered on the radars of the US press, probably due to the fact that the majority of the activists were Europeans.
Snide headline of the day went to CNN:
Hours later, CNN updated the headline to something more neutral: “Israel detains pro-Palestinian activists”.
And what of the “snide letter” described by CNN? It’s worth noting as one of the means deployed by Israel to pop the activists’ balloons.
We know there were many other worthy choices. You could have chosen to protest the Syrian regime’s daily savagery against its own people, which has claimed thousands of lives.
You could have chosen to protest the Iranian regime’s brutal crackdown on dissent and support of terrorism throughout the world. You could have chosen to protest Hamas rule in Gaza, where terror organizations commit a double war crime by firing rockets at civilians and hiding behind civilians.
But instead you chose to protest against Israel, the Middle East’s sole democracy, where women are equal, the press criticizes the government, human rights organizations can operate freely, religious freedom is protected for all and minorities do not live in fear.
Therefore we suggest to let you solve first the real problems of the region, and then come back and share with us your experience.
Have a nice flight.