Richard Silverstein at Tikun Olam says it best:

The Only Democracy in the Middle East™ has struck again: the English editor for the independent Palestinian news agency Maan, American Jared Malsin, was detained along with his girlfriend at Ben Gurion airport on his return to Israel from a European vacation. During the detention it became clear that the Shin Bet intended to expel him from Israel as a security risk. It provided no justification whatsoever. And when Malsin notified the U.S. embassy of his predicament and they called to inquire, security officials lied by claiming neither individual was in custody and that they were probably “enjoying a night on the town in Tel Aviv” and had simply forgotten to notify them.

Actually, the immigration department did have a justification, exactly the one you’d expect from….China or Iran: Malsin apparently wrote news stories that “criticized the State of Israel.”

Really. But my favorite part of this story, which evolves by the minute, is that Malsin, a Yale graduate, apparently first came to Israel through Birthright, the program that gives free plane tickets to Israel to young Diaspora Jews in an effort to win their everlasting love. In my book, becoming a journalist who accurately covers the assault on democracy is the perfect way to show your everlasting love. It’s the only way to make it better. But that’s just me. I wonder if Malsin knew he’d become the subject of his own story.

-Cecilie Surasky