Whenever peace activists devise a new means of challenging Israel’s Occupation, whether it be BDS, Nakba protests, the Gaza Flotilla, the September UN vote on Palestinian statehood, or the Flight of Return, the primary response from Israel seems something verging on outright or barely controlled hysteria. Bibi Netanyahu said recently that this Friday’s Ben Gurion protest is an attempt to undermine “Israel’s right to exist.” Excuse me? A few hundred peace activists converging non-violently on Ben Gurion airport in order to affirm their right to travel to Palestine is an existential threat to the “Jewish state?”
Undercover officers will patrol the airport. All flights from Europe will disembark at an isolated spot at the airport [fearing terrorism are we?]. Departures will be delayed and all passengers will be searched before boarding. Israel approaches the protest at fever pitch. “Everyone is in a state of hysteria,” said one government source after a meeting hosted by Internal Security minister Yitzhak Aharonovitz and attended by Netanyahu, senior police officials and the relevant authorities at Ben Gurion, all of whom detailed the steps there were taking to confront the hundreds of expected protesters.
…The prime minister listened to presentations about the plans for each agency and how they would adhere to international law [after all, it might be a tad embarrassing to see the blood of peaceful protesters splattered on the walls of Israel’s international airport–that’s something expected more of tyrants like Lukashenko].
It’s a bit like the old May Day parades in Red Square in which the Soviet military used to proudly showcase its new military hardware before a beaming Fearless Leader. The problem with this paranoid thought process is that ANY sign of support for Palestine becomes automatically a threat to Israel’s existence. When you turn everything into such a zero sum game, you leave practically no room for compromise, which is precisely as Bibi prefers it.
Another interesting feature of the government’s plans is the expectation that airlines will obey Israeli instructions to prevent specific passengers from boarding flights, which places these international companies in the position of enforcing Israel’s Occupation policies. Israeli authorities are especially concerned that the protesters will “misbehave,” attempt to wave placards, shout slogans, attack at the check in counter, and otherwise delegitimize the “Jewish state.” There is a generalized fear of those who wish to engage in unspecified “provocations.”
Each arriving flight will be met by a team of police officers and flights will be staggered so as not to allow the intruders to mass themselves in the airport at any particular time. In no uncertain terms, the authorities will refuse to allow order to be disturbed at the airport. They aver however that the treatment the activists will receive is reserved for those who disturb the peace, but such treatment does not mean they’re considered terrorists, God forbid:
It’s important not to forget that we’re not talking here about armed activists.
But are we really sure of that? Have they checked with Danny Ayalon to see whether he’s put his finger to the wind to detect the presence of gun powder or sulfur on the persons of these wicked no-goodniks?
One genius from the government even had this flash of insight:
The interest of the foreign airlines is first and foremost that there not be pictures of Israeli police beating protesters, something that would affect the number of tourists who plan to spend the summer in Israel. And so these companies interest is aligned with that of Israel.
There was an implicit warning from Israeli sources that some airlines might refuse to return some of the travelers to their home country for fear of the potential for violence. It wasn’t clear whether they were talking about the potential for violence on the Israeli side or the passengers’ side. But we can infer it was the latter. And as usual absolutely no proof is offered that any passenger intends to engage in violence or even that the airlines would contemplate refusing to fly someone home from Israel.
An official of the Internal Security ministry did note that it’s possible that the infiltrators have already entered the body politic, where they may be passing their ideas and even bodily fluids directly into the minds and bodies of Israelis.
The same level of paranoid fear characterizes an impending decision by the IDF to refuse to identify by name any senior officers either in the media or any public forum. Maariv reports the new regulations are meant to address a fear of exposing them to legal prosecution after wars like Cast Lead and Lebanon II. Officers’ pictures will also be pixellated to prevent their further identification. Israel already does this with its intelligence personnel, who may not be named during active service or even after they leave the service. But the new rules would place IDF officers under deep cover as well, and further shield the military from the gaze of NGOs and “Israeli left-wing extremists” seeking to ensure that Israel adheres to standards of international law in its treatment of Palestinians. In fact, one important feature of this blog is revealing the identity of individuals (such as Doron Zahavi/Captain George) who may have committed specific acts which would qualify as crimes or war crimes. Since Israel and Israelis can no longer do this for themselves in most cases, someone has to do it.
The IDF attributes the new policy to the “Goldstone Effect” and links it as well to efforts by Palestinian activists to bring Israeli officials and officers to justice outside Israel.
You could be forgiven for imagining that Israel is beginning to sound like Geena Davis’ character in The Fly when she warns: “Be afraid, be very afraid.”