‘Flytilla’ protest rocks the Israeli status quo in a sacred place – the airport

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A report over the weekend in Maariv said that IDF special forces went on a flight from Geneva in Ben-Gurion Airport to sort the passengers between “pro Palestinian activists” and the rest of the passengers. Eventually, they deported 25 people. This is only one of many events that took place as over 600 peace activists landed in Ben-Gurion airport and declared the true goal of their visit: visit in the West bank, and participating in non-violent activities against the occupation.

Thus, a new frontier between the peace activists and Netanyahu’s government opened, and this one is especially sensitive. Israelis consider the airport as a sacred place – their gate to the free world, an escape from the mess the Palestinians “caused” them. It is also a gate that is closed to Palestinians, and was therefore a source of suffering, both in the concrete and the symbolic level. Now this sacred Israeli temple was violated, and the illusion many Israelis had, of belonging to the international Western community, was exposed as well.

The “flytilla” is another demonstration of the third undeclared intifada – this Intifada is being carried out by Palestinians, Israelis, and international groups, and is using non-violent creative means of resistance to the occupation. It’s goal is to make sure, again – using non-violent means – that convenient escapism will not be an option for Israelis. Based on the Israeli reaction it seems this third Intifada has been a huge success so far. This can be seen in the laws against boycott, and the public attention given to the protests. Most of this attention is so far negative, but there were also few initiatives and calls to end the occupation by powerful groups in the society, that were directly linked to the BDS actions. This raises critical and interesting questions – when will the Israelis say “enough” and cut their losses? And could it be done without a major shift in the U.S. policy toward the conflict?

Elinor Amit is a post doctoral student in the psychology department at Harvard University. She moved to the US from Israel in 2008.

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