Israel to ´thank´ fly-in activists in mocking letter (JERUSALEM POST) By HERB KEINON, YAAKOV LAPPIN, TOVAH LAZAROFF 04/15/12)
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Pro-Palestinian activists arriving Sunday at Ben-Gurion Airport as
part of the anti- Israel fly-in dubbed the “flytilla” will be greeted
with a sarcastic letter noting that while they could have chosen to
protest the brutality in Syria, Iran and Gaza, they opted instead to
protest against the “Middle East’s sole democracy.”
“Dear activist,” starts the letter that will be translated into a
number of different languages for the participants in an event
formally being called “Welcome to Palestine.”
“We appreciate your choosing to make Israel the object of your
humanitarian concerns,” the letter continues.
“We know there were many other worthy choices.”
Israel plans to bar entry by some 2,000 activists from at least 15
different countries, mostly in Europe, either by preventing them from
boarding their flights or by deporting them once they arrive.
The activists want to draw attention to Israel’s practice of barring
foreigners it believes could cause trouble by engaging in pro-
Palestinian activities during their visit.
The letter – drawn up in the Prime Minister’s Office – noted, that
the activists “could have chosen to protest the Syrian regime’s daily
savagery against its own people, which has claimed thousands of
Alternatively, they could have chosen to protest “the Iranian
regime’s brutal crackdown on dissent and support of terrorism
throughout the world.” Or, if they simply had to come to this part of
the globe, they “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.”
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.”
The letter concludes with a suggestion that the activists first
solve “the real problems of the region” and then “come back and share
with us your experience.”
In an indication that Israel will not let the protesters in but will
instead deport them back to their countries of origin, the letter
ends with the line: “Have a nice flight.”
Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry officials said Saturday night that
responsibility for dealing with the flytilla was in the hands of the
Public Security Ministry, which will be in contact with the
consulates of the countries whose nationals are to be barred from
entering the country.
The Foreign Ministry has over the past few weeks been in discussions
with its counterparts in capitals around the world, explaining
Israel’s position regarding the fly-in and making clear that those
coming to engage in provocative actions would not be given an entry
Israeli authorities circulated to the airlines the names of some
1,200 pro-Palestinian activists expected to participate, in the hope
that the companies would prevent them from boarding.
One official explained that if someone flies into a country without
the necessary visa or is not given that visa when he or she lands,
the responsibility – and expense – for flying the person back falls
on the airline.
Already on Wednesday, Amnon Shmueli, who heads the Immigration
Authority at Ben- Gurion Airport, sent a letter to all airlines with
a list of names of the people it believed were planning on
participating in flytilla, according to a document posted on its
The document said, “Due to statements of pro-Palestinian radicals to
arrive on commercial flights from abroad to disrupt order and
confront security forces at friction points, it was decided to deny
“Attached is a list of passengers that are denied entry to Israel. In
light of the above mentioned, you are ordered not board them on your
flights,” the letter states.
“Failure to comply with this directive will result in sanctions
against the airlines.”
According to the website, already as early as Tuesday a foreign
visitor from Sweden who entered Israel from Eilat was asked to sign a
pledge not to be a member of a pro-Palestinian organization, not to
be in contact with any pro-Palestinian organizations and not to
participate in pro-Palestinian activities.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch confirmed Saturday
night that Israel had asked airlines not to board fly-in passengers.
“They acted pretty much accordingly,” he said.
The public security minister, who is in charge of Israel’s response
to the flytilla, said a passenger plane with activists could land in
Israel as early as Saturday night.
“We’ve started initial preparations tonight,” he said on Saturday.
“Tomorrow is the main day.... Clear instructions have been given to
police, the interior minister... to prevent provocations and not
allow disturbances at Ben-Gurion Airport.”
Those identified by Israel as provocateurs who manage to circumvent
the no-fly lists and land in Israel will be “isolated from the
central airport,” Aharonovitch said.
Activists who get past all of Israel’s measures “will be arrested if
they cause disturbances,” he added.
Two European airlines, Jet2.com and Lufthansa, told passengers on
Friday that they planned to comply with Israel’s demands, according
to the Welcome to Palestine website.
Jet2 advised passengers that Israel had denied them entry and as such
they might not be able to board their flights. Lufthansa informed the
passengers in question that their tickets had been canceled.
The pro-Palestinian website #Airflotilla2 uploaded a scanned image of
one of the tickets canceled by Lufthansa and reported that the same
notification had been sent to dozens of activists on Thursday,
informing them that their reservations had been canceled “by order of
Hundreds of unarmed police officers will guard the airport on Sunday,
when anywhere from 500 to 1,000 activists try to land in Israel,
according to police estimates.
Sunday is expected to be one of Israel’s busiest air travel days,
with some 45,000 passengers landing and taking off from Ben-Gurion.
Central police district chief Cmdr. Bentsi Sao will oversee the
operation, which is aimed at ensuring routine at the airport.
Palestinian activist Mazin Qumsiyeh, a professor at Bethlehem
University and one of the organizers of the event, said that Israel
was only harming itself with its “hysterical” reaction.
“Why do they want people to lie to them at the airport?” he
asked. “Why can’t they say they are coming to visit us in Bethlehem?”
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report. (© 1995-2011, The
Jerusalem Post 04/15/12)
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