Denying Flytilla Activists About Saving Face, Not Security

by: Andrew Meyer

On July 26th I flew into Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport for the first time. Although I had never been to the region before, the buildings did not seem unfamiliar to me. I had painted a mental picture of the airport based on the accounts of dozens of my friends who had traveled to Israel in the past. I approached passport control, and very luckily for me, was asked only three questions before my passport was stamped with a three month visa. Perhaps my luck was based in the fact that –on some level – I lied.

The reason I gave less-than-truthful answers to the customs agent’s questions, and the reason I withheld as much information as possible, is because Israel has a well documented, long history of denying entry to Palestine solidarity activists. The product of Israel’s failed policies, from the West Bank to Gaza, is the constant scramble to hide Israel’s dirty little secret – their occupation of the Palestinian Territories. The reality of these policies for those who wish to travel to the Palestine is that they must remain less than honest when traveling to Israel, in an attempt ensure that they are granted entry.

The fact that Israel illegally occupies the West Bank and Gaza (along with the Golan Heights) is not lost on the international community. However, the specific consequences of Israel’s illegal occupation, siege, and blockade are not widely witnessed by the majority of the world’s population. This lack of witness is due in part to Israel’s calculated attempt at keeping internationals out of the Occupied Territories.

And so as hundreds of non-violent Palestine solidarity activist are being detained, arrested, and deported during Israel’s response to the current “flytilla”, the question must be asked – what is Israel trying to hide?

Perhaps it is the overwhelming  presence of the illegal Jewish only settlements that seem to be springing up on the top of every hill within the West Bank. Perhaps it is the continued construction of the daunting apartheid wall, which was deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2005. Perhaps it is the ramifications of the illegal blockade of Gaza, which has been imposed since 2007, leaving Gazans battling widespread poverty, a territory wide water crisis, and facing one of the world’s highest unemployment rates.

This leaves those who are responsible for, and apologists for, these failed policies in a rather uncomfortable position – attempting to defend the indefensible. In the end, this is what Israel is trying to hide.