Apr 14, 2012 09:35 am | Laura Durkay
French activists protesting European airlines canceling flytilla passenger flights, 2011. (Photo: Abu Nawfal)
This Sunday, I was planning to fly to Tel Aviv with up to 1,500 other participants in Welcome to Palestine 2012, a peaceful initiative of travel and solidarity with Palestinians in the West Bank. We had an invitation from over 25 civil society groups across the West Bank. We had the blessing of the mayor of Bethlehem. Our plans consisted of such terroristic activities as laying the cornerstone of a kindergarten, repairing damaged wells, and planting olive trees.
This morning I received the following notice from the airline on which I had purchased a ticket to fly to Tel Aviv:
From: CustomerCare <firstname.lastname@example.org> Fri, Apr 13, 2012 at 10:21 AM
To: Laura Durkay
Jet2.com Flight LS907 Manchester to Tel Aviv Sunday 15th April 2012
Dear Laura Durkay,
Jet2.com is required by the Israeli authorities to provide Advance Passenger Information in relation to all passengers that it carries on flights to Israel. Advance Passenger Information includes a passenger’s name, date of birth, passport number and nationality.
In accordance with Article 7 of its Terms and Conditions, Jet2.com has provided Advance Passenger Information in respect of your flight from Manchester to Israel. As a result of providing that Information, Jet2.com has been informed by the Israeli authorities that you will not be not permitted to enter Israel. Consequently, if Jet2.com carries you to Israel, you will be refused entry and Jet2.com will be liable for both a fine and your return to Manchester.
As a result, and in accordance with Article 24 of its Terms and Conditions, Jet2.com: “may refuse to carry you where such action is necessary for reasons of safety and/or security and/or to comply with any applicable laws, regulations or orders of any country to be flown from, into or over including laws or regulations relating to Advance Passenger Information requirements.” We regret that, in light of the decision taken by the Israeli authorities, we are unable to accept you for carriage to Israel on this occasion and your booking with Jet2.com has been cancelled.
In accordance with Article 26.3 of its Terms and Conditions, Jet2.com is a non-refundable airline and we will therefore be unable to offer any refund, with the exception of a refund of the applicable taxes paid, as a result of the decision taken by the Israeli authorities.
Jet2.com would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused by the cancellation of your booking, which we hope you will appreciate is totally beyond our control.
Jet2.com Customer Care Team
I soon found out I was far from alone. Many other UK participants had received the same notice. In France, Lufthansa had cut to the chase and canceled an entire flight to Tel Aviv.
On the one hand, this is hardly surprising. The Israeli government has a long record of denying entry to any international suspected of sympathy with the Palestinians. And of course this is just the tip of the iceberg—the iceberg being the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who are unable to return to their own country, even for a brief visit as a tourist.
But it is worth taking a step back to realize how thoroughly absurd and far-reaching these policies have become. With this sweeping denial of entry of hundreds of activists simultaneously, the Israeli government policy of criminalizing mere travel to the Occupied Territories is laid bare for all the world to see.
When I participated in Welcome to Palestine 2011, last July, I was effectively imprisoned for four days simply for answering, when asked where I was going, “Bethlehem.” In the bizarre world of Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport, even to speak the word Palestine is forbidden.
One of the goals of the Welcome to Palestine initiative is to highlight the fact that, while conditions may not be as dire as in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank is also under Israeli siege, since Israel controls all points of entry and exit. Today, with the willing cooperating of European governments and corporations, that siege extends as far as Brussels, Paris and Manchester. But all the Israeli government has done is ensure that resistance to its policies will reach those shores as well.
I love this comment :
It’s time to implement the motto: “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.”
Since Israel sees fit — for political reasons unrelated to terrorism — to shut down a portion of international commercial airtraffic, I think the appropriate BDS response is for citizens to request every European country to shut down commercial airtraffic with Israel — also for political reasons unrelated to terrorism
For how long? How about: until the 650,000 settlers are removed, the wall dismantled, and the siege of Gaza lifted.
Please give Syrians a bit of your time by watching and spreading this clip.
Israel National News published today a poem by Itamar Yaoz-Kest, a Holocaust survivor. The poem is presented as “letter-poem in reply to German Günter Grass’ attack.” The poem is a clear reminder of horrific danger that is embedded within Jewish identity politics and contemporary Jewish nationalism. It is a glimpse into unique psychotic genocidal sense of retribution.
The “letter-poem” starts as follows:
I want to be a danger,
I want to be a danger to the world,
so that after my destruction, not a single blade of grass will remain on the face of the Earth,
or a single blade of grass for Gunther Grass’s pipe,
upon the Earth where, since I was born, I pose a danger to the world.
Because it is my right!
It is my right to live or die while annihilating my annihilators, without riding again as a crying-boy in a transport train,
Into the world-vacuum, while placing my head in the lap of a mother who is disappearing into the fresh air of the Land of Wotan,
and the urine tin darts dark-yellow specks onto the walls of the cabin – like gunshots that spray
a yellowish-reddish liquid from besides the train guards, and among them – maybe – the soldier G.G., also, wearing a steel helmet.
Later in the poem, Yaoz-Kest issues what appears to be a statement of intent along the lines of “the Samson Option”:
“For it is the right of the Nation of Israel to finally shut the gates to the world after it leaves this place (not of its free will!), and we have the right to say, at the price of the 3,000 year old fear: “If you force us yet again to descend from the face of the Earth to the depths of the Earth – let the Earth roll toward the Nothingness.”
The Samson Option – taking out Israel’s enemies with it, possibly causing irreparable damage to the entire world – has been a phantasmic Israeli strategy since the early 1950’s.
The message for the rest of us is clear- Israel is the biggest threat to world peace. Time is overdue to discharge the Jewish State of its destructive power.
April 12, 2012
I am the Iraqi child of Fallujah you exposed to cancer with your depleted uranium.
I am the Palestinian women whose olive tree you uprooted and kids you left starving.
I am the Afghan man who has only seen years of brutal Soviet war and now US occupation.
I am the Iraqi man you shot dead at a checkpoint because you felt like it.
I am the Palestinian family you forcibly removed from their home.
I am the widowed Afghan whose land you continue to occupy and children you continue kill.
I am the Iraqi women you raped in the name of liberation.
I am the prisoner you tortured at Abu Ghraib and Bagram in the name of democracy.
I am the civilian in Iraq you named ‘collateral damage’ and left to rot.
I am the Palestinian school child you prevented from getting to school with your apartheid roads forcing me to wait hours at a checkpoint and miss class.
I am the Afghan woman you so wish to liberate, except you can leave your liberation in the trash can where it belongs.
I am the Muslim man you accused of being a terrorist, water-boarded and locked up in Guantanamo without parole.
I am the victim of your so called war on terror.
I am the shadow that walks alone.
I am the one that haunts your dreams.
How can you go to sleep with the bloody image of me in the back of your mind?
I am Palestine. I am Iraq. I am Afghanistan.
April 14, 2012
A Swedish tourist trying to enter Israel was made to sign a “contract” promising she won’t get in touch with “pro-Palestinian” organisations, and acknowledging she’ll get deported if she “gets caught doing even one of these things.” Meanwhile, Prime Minister’s Office released a letter that will be handed to deported Flytilla activists: Go to Syria.
Check this out. This is a “contract” that a Swedish citizen was required to sign upon entering Israel via the Eilat land crossing:
Please, stop snickering at the “nine-tens,” the “passpot,” and the bizarre grammatical construct in the first sentence. This is quite serious. The person in question told +972:
I’ve been in East Jerusalem on and off for six months now, visiting friends. Since I am here on a tourist visa, I have to leave the country every three months and renew my visa at the border. No problem, until this time when me and a friend made an Easter trip to Jordan and planned to get a new visa stamp in my passport on our way back. I’ll go back to Sweden next week again, so I just need a visa for my last days here.
When we got to the Israeli section of the border crossing – that one between Aqaba and Eilat – we were asked to sit down and wait a moment while they kept my passport. Then I was invited into an office and was questioned about my religion, if I had contact with any religious organizations here, what I do during the day, how much money I have got to spend and where I got it, what I do in Sweden and so on. Then we had to wait again, not knowing what would happen. After 4 hours and 20 minutes, I was asked to sign this contract and got back my passport with visa stamp in which the expiration date (normally three months later) was corrected to April 19, which is when I have my plane ticket home. Then we could finally enter Israel again.
They retained the original “contract” at the border control, and mine is only a copy. I don’t know what consequences I could expect if I would break it. Personally, I am pleased that I was let in and can spend one last week in Jerusalem. I am five months pregnant and hardly look like any security risk. As far as I know, I haven’t done anything illegal during my stay here.
When reached for comment by my colleague Haggai Matar, Population and Immigration Authority spokeswoman Sabine Haddad said : “The purpose behind the document was to make sure the lady doesn’t visit friction areas. Nevertheless, we intend to check the issue and the document itself.”
Considering the inane phrasing, spelling errors and the fact the entire letter was custom-printed for the woman personally (as opposed to a form where her departure date would have been written in), I’ll go on to venture a highly charitable guess this is the local initiative of staff at this particular crossing, rather than a policy. The initiative might actually belong to the very same “Meital Yahud”, who appears as the other signatory to the contract and might be anxious to have an alibi (a rather weak one, mind you) in case the person she let in goes on to do something as dangerous, as, um, speak the word “Palestine”, or something. It’s still morbidly fascinating to see the Flytilla getting our authorities to make themselves look like complete buffoons even before a single activist actually boarded a plane.
Update 18:30 And as if to vindicate that last sentence, Netanyahu’s spokesman Ofir Gendelman tweeted the official letter Flytilla activists will be handed on arrival. The grammar is a little better. The content – judge for yourselves.
…Going back to the political “contract” document, immigration and human rights lawyer Yadin Elam told +972:
“This is the first time I have seen such a form but as someone who deals with the Ministry Of Interior on a daily basis, nothing can surprise me anymore. Legally, she is very fortunate that it is written so badly. If she “cannot” be a member of a pro-Palestinian organization then I guess she is not…”
As for the question of responsibility, Elam suggests:
…it does seems like a private initiative of a low-level clerk at the Ministry of the Interior but one should be worried why a low-level clerk has the powers to make such decisions. We all remember that Israel blamed immigration officials for the decision to deny entry to Noam Chomsky nearly two years ago. Would it be too much to hope that after such a mistake, the ministry would make sure that private initiatives would not take place? and if the didn’t, can we still call it a private initiative?
Anyway, at least they didn’t summarily execute the visitor’s laptop this time. Things are looking up.
ANY WHERE in the World YOU Are!
21 April 2012 will be the first day in the 9th year Mordechai Vanunu, Israel’s Nuclear Whistle Blower has been under 24/7 surveillance and denied the RIGHT to leave Israel; on top of 18 years in jail for telling the TRUTH and providing the photographic proof that led nuclear physicists to conclude Israel had manufactured upwards of 200 nuclear warheads by 1986!Please post your PUBLIC ACTION in Comment section and join the Cause FREE VANUNU Now @
http://www.causes.com/causes/523841-free-mordechai-vanunuThe first announced is scheduled to begin noon 21 April at STRAWBERRY FIELDS in Central Park, New York City, with a Reading of Vanunu’s words from Ashkelon Prison, 1987:
“The passive acceptance and complacency with regard to the existence of nuclear weapons anywhere on earth is the disease of society today.
“This struggle is not only a legitimate one – it is a moral, inescapable struggle…no government, not even the most democratic, can force us to live under this threat. No state in the world can offer any kind of security against this menace of a nuclear holocaust, or guarantee to prevent it.
“Already now there are enough nuclear missiles to destroy the world many times over. This issue should unite us all, because that is our real enemy.
“Any country, which manufactures and stocks nuclear weapons, is first of all endangering its own citizens. This is why the citizens must confront their government and warn it that it has no right to expose them to this danger. Because, in effect, the citizens are being held hostage by their own government, just as if they have been hijacked and deprived of their freedom and threatened.
“Indeed, when governments develop nuclear weapons without the consent of their citizens – and this is true in most cases – they are violating the basic rights of their citizens, the basic right not to live under constant threat of annihilation.
“Is any government qualified and authorized to produce such weapons.”
I Am Your Spy by Mordechai Vanunu
I am the clerk, the technician, the mechanic, the driver.
They said, Do this, do that, don’t look left or right,
don’t read the text. Don’t look at the whole machine. You
are only responsible for this one bolt. For this one rubber-stamp.
This is your only concern. Don’t bother with what is above you.
Don’t try to think for us. Go on, drive. Keep going. On, on.
So they thought, the big ones, the smart ones, the futurologists.
There is nothing to fear. Not to worry.
Everything’s ticking just fine.
Our little clerk is a diligent worker. He’s a simple mechanic.
He’s a little man.
Little men’s ears don’t hear, their eyes don’t see.
We have heads, they don’t.
Answer them, said he to himself, said the little man,
the man with a head of his own. Who is in charge? Who knows
where this train is going?
Where is their head? I too have a head.
Why do I see the whole engine,
Why do I see the precipice–
is there a driver on this train?
The clerk driver technician mechanic looked up.
He stepped back and saw — what a monster.
Can’t believe it. Rubbed his eyes and — yes,
it’s there all right. I’m all right. I do see
the monster. I’m part of the system.
I signed this form. Only now I am reading the rest of it.
This bolt is part of a bomb. This bolt is me. How
did I fail to see, and how do the others go on
fitting bolts. Who else knows?
Who has seen? Who has heard? — The emperor really is naked.
I see him. Why me? It’s not for me. It’s too big.
Rise and cry out. Rise and tell the people. You can.
I, the bolt, the technician, mechanic? — Yes, you.
You are the secret agent of the people. You are the eyes of the nation.
Agent-spy, tell us what you’ve seen. Tell us what the insiders, the clever ones, have hidden from us.
Without you, there is only the precipice. Only catastrophe.
I have no choice. I’m a little man, a citizen, one of the people,
but I’ll do what I have to. I’ve heard the voice of my conscience
and there’s nowhere to hide.
The world is small, small for Big Brother.
I’m on your mission. I’m doing my duty. Take it from me.
Come and see for yourselves. Lighten my burden. Stop the train.
Get off the train. The next stop — nuclear disaster. The next book,
the next machine. No. There is no such thing.-1987, Ashkelon Prison