Having seen the problems that supposedly “non-violent peace activists” could cause Israel, for example the Mavi Marmara flotilla, or regular protests and damage to the West Bank security barrier inflicted by foreign activists, it’s no wonder that Israel took this latest provocation very seriously and preferred to prevent these people from entering Israel at all.
A demonstration at Ben-Gurion Airport under the banner “Welcome to Palestine” is probably a more accurate reflection of the motivations of the activists. After all, most of the radical campaigns against Israel are less about Israeli policies and all about Israel itself and its very right to exist in the region. Rather than “pro-Palestinian”, the actions of many of these protesters is anti-Israel and does nothing to promote peace in the region.
This didn’t, however, stop Phoebe Greenwood, who also reports for The Guardian, from describing the campaign as a “protest against the expansion of Israeli settlements into Palestinian territory” in the Daily Telegraph.
Harriet Sherwood in The Guardian termed it as an “attempted show of solidarity with the people of the West Bank.” She also couldn’t help but include a subtle dig at Israel:
Those suspected of being pro-Palestinian activists were taken first to a smaller terminal, with a “Welcome to Israel” sign above its doors, for interrogation and from there to a nearby prison.
While Sherwood may have portrayed it otherwise, the irony was not deliberate on the part of Israel. Rather, Ben-Gurion Airport’s Terminal One does indeed have a large sign greeting travelers as it has done for many years and not just for this particular occasion.
Overall, however, as the Israeli letter to the activists pointed out, other very pressing concerns in the Middle East continue to expose the obsessive and disproportionate and often hateful attention leveled at the region’s only real democracy. Thankfully, at least in this case, the international press also had better things to do with its time than pander to what turned out to be an expensive failure of a PR stunt.
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Image: CC BY-SA HonestReporting.com, flickr/tomhumphries.