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Israel’s welcome now reserved only for Jews who back Netanyahu

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Dustin Pfundheller, 30, an American dentist living in Singapore, was set to become the youngest person to visit every country in the world while in a full-time job. His globetrotting has taken him to 192 of the 193 recognised states, bringing his medical skills to the world’s remotest places. But in January he was barred for the second time from Israel, the only country left on his list, having previously been refused entry last year.

Despite an invitation to a dental conference in Tel Aviv, and Israelis who vouched for him, border officials banned Pfundheller for 10 years. No reason was given, but lawyers suspect visits to Iran and the Arab states sealed his fate. There could hardly be starker evidence that Israel stubbornly refuses to become a normal country.

Paradoxically, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Singapore last month to promote Israel as a tolerant country, one “committed to a better world, a world of diversity.”

The reality could not be more different. Arabs and Muslims have always struggled to gain entry to Israel. Palestinians are routinely abused at the borders, and thousands, especially from Jerusalem, have been stripped of the right to return home after living abroad.

But new figures show Israel is excluding other groups too. Entry denials have increased nine-fold in the past five years, topping 16,000 people last year. Among those increasingly turned away are political activists. Israel controls all access to the occupied Palestinian territories, and has been regularly denying entry to solidarity activists and those who support the boycott movement.

(Image: Carlos Latuff)

Legislation passed by the Israeli parliament on Monday night will only intensify the exclusionary trend. The new law forbids entry to anyone who supports a boycott, even if it is only of the settlements. As one legislator pointed out, that means Israel may quickly find itself bound to refuse entry to all officials from the United Nations and Europe.

In a sign of the new direction, Israel denied a tourist visa last week to Human Rights Watch’s new director for Israel and Palestine, having earlier refused him a work permit. One of the most prominent human rights organisations in the world was dismissed as an outlet for “Palestinian propaganda”.

Weeks earlier, Israel subjected Jennifer Gorovitz, an American Jewish vice-president of the New Israel Fund, to a humiliating interrogation at airport arrivals. NIF is one of the largest funders of Israeli organisations supporting human rights and social justice. That includes assistance to groups that monitor military abuses in the occupied territories.

This presumably explains why Gorovitz’s interrogators suggested she posed a “security threat”. She finally gained admittance only after Talia Sasson, the Israeli head of NIF and an adviser to former prime ministers, pulled strings.

Gorovitz wrote of her experience: “My privilege as a Jew means I never imagined that Israel could or would deny me entrance.

Such an assumption was justified. Israel’s Law of Return is supposed to guarantee Jews around the world the right to almost instant citizenship in Israel.

For that reason, the law is grossly unjust. It privileges Jewish access to Israel at the expense of the native Palestinian population, most of whom were expelled in 1948.

Nonetheless, it is noteworthy that Israel, a state that invested itself with the historical mission of offering sanctuary to Jews worldwide, is increasingly applying a political test to those who arrive at its borders.

Israel is denying entry not only to Arabs and would-be record breakers. And it is deporting not just those such as migrant workers and African asylum seekers who might pollute the Jewish state with non-Jewish genes. Now it is openly targeting Jews whose politics do not align with the far-right government of Netanyahu.

It should be noted that many of the solidarity and boycott activists turned away are Jewish. Famous Jewish critics of Israel such as Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein have been barred too.

On Monday, Rebecca Vilkomerson, the US executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, observed that, despite her husband and children being Israeli citizens, and her grandparents bured there, under the new anti-boycott legislation she was now denied the right to visit.

In Israel’s eyes, it seems some Jews are more equal than others.

The pulling up of the drawbridge comes as Israel’s leadership has remained largely silent in the face of a rising tide of anti-semitism in the US, fuelled by Donald Trump’s election as president. Dozens of Jewish centres have received bomb threats, and Jewish cemeteries have been vandalised.

There are growing rumblings among American Jews that their interests are being overlooked by the Netanyahu government to avoid damaging relations with the new US administration. But another reason for the lack of response should be considered.

The principle of the “ingathering of the exiles”, according to Israel’s official ideology, Zionism, assumes that Israel is the rightful home of Jews everywhere. And the largest Jewish population outside Israel resides in the US.

In November, Yaron London, a popular TV host, welcomed Trump’s election, pointing out that “a worldview which supports white supremacy matches our [Israeli] government’s interests.”

Last week opposition leader Isaac Herzog urged Israel to prepare for an influx of US Jews fleeing persecution.

But will Israel’s arms really be open to all Jews equally, or only to those willing to contribute enthusiastically to the tribal project?

And can Jews of conscience ignore the true cost of their migration? They can leave behind anti-Jewish bigotry in the US, but only if they bolster the Jewish bigots of Israel who lord it over the native Palestinian population.

A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.

Jonathan Cook

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His new website is

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26 Responses

  1. RobertHenryEller on March 7, 2017, 11:19 am

    Actually, there are very few Jews left in Israel.

    You think Fake News is a problem?

    Fake Jews are an even bigger problem. And Israel is mostly filled with Fake Jews. And that’s an all too kind and polite term for these people. We all know what to more accurately call them.

    • Marnie on March 7, 2017, 12:07 pm

      Fake Jews = zionists.

      • rosross on March 9, 2017, 6:06 pm

        Zionists are fake Jews because Zionism is atheism. But many Israeli ‘Jews’ are also atheist or secular and do not, have never practised the religion, but are allowed entry because they could find a Jewish ancestor.

        Quite how a religion confers anything which could be deemed to be inherited is beyond both science and reason.

  2. amigo on March 7, 2017, 11:39 am

    Given Netanyahu,s propensity for equating Israel with all Jews (him being the king of all Jews ) , it would be legitimate to bar , for example , all American Jews from entering the EU.

    Certainly it would be legal to bar all Israeli Jews who support Israel,s crimes ,from entering any nation whose citizens are affected by Israel,s latest legislation , banning those who object to Israel,s war crimes and human rights abuses.If Israel wants to play rough , then play rougher.Interrogate them for a day or so and then put them on a flight back to so called Israel and mark their passport , “Denied entry ,Security risk” .

  3. AddictionMyth on March 7, 2017, 12:15 pm

    This new policy will backfire so bigly it’s not even funny.

  4. Ossinev on March 7, 2017, 12:51 pm

    Currently a significant number of Western Countries inc here in the UK have a Terror Alert Status Foreign Office advice website for visitors mainly tourists to a range of countries and this status is monitored and updated on an ongoing basis. Perhaps these information websites should be expanded to include a “possibility of denial of entry” status in which case Zioland would be a leading contender for inclusion. There is also the question of the responsibility of Tour Operators to advise clients on Terror Status ( something which is currently the subject of potential litigation in the UK following the Tunisian beach massacre). Perhaps they should be advising them also as to the possibility of denial of entry .Over and above that there is the question of insurance cover ie does conventional travel insurance routinely cover the possibility and cost of denial of entry?

    All in all the result of the actions of these arrogant brain dead Zios could be that despite all those cute invitation to visit “the Land of Creation ” Israeli Tourist Board ads a lot of people will simple be put off going there taking into account also the endless repetitive Stasilike questions at entry and exit points from pimply 18 year olds doing their Zio internships.

  5. Yakov Hirsch on March 7, 2017, 2:12 pm

    Mooser, I can use a good “pirate radio” critic. Any chance that is included in all your myriad skills?

    • JLewisDickerson on March 7, 2017, 3:49 pm

      I almost always find Beinart’s commentaries to be exceptionally perceptive!

      • Maghlawatan on March 7, 2017, 5:14 pm

        Me too. Norm Ornstein, Chemi Shalev, Green Greenwald and David Frum are very good as well.

      • echinococcus on March 7, 2017, 6:01 pm

        Except for his total deafness when he hears “get the hell out of where you don’t belong!” Absolute, incurable and malignantly deliberate.

        That’s the most murderous kind of Zionist.

    • Mooser on March 7, 2017, 4:48 pm

      “Yakov” I don’t have the necessary disinterestedness to critique your broadcast. It is incumbent upon me to consider Hasbara Culture as a mass or social manifestation of co-dependent Ziocaine Syndrome episodes.

  6. Maghlawatan on March 7, 2017, 2:42 pm

    “My privilege as a Jew means I never imagined that Israel could or would deny me entrance. ”


  7. JLewisDickerson on March 7, 2017, 3:00 pm

    RE: In November, Yaron London, a popular TV host, welcomed Trump’s election, pointing out that “a worldview which supports white supremacy matches our [Israeli] government’s interests.” ~ Jonathan Cook

    THE PROPHETIC HERZL: “The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.”

    SEE: “Zionism and the Ethnic Cleansing of Europe”, by Siddhartha Shome, Stanford University, 2014

    [EXCERPTS] The Holocaust was by far the worst genocide in human history and has understandably attracted much scholarly interest. However, the Holocaust did not happen in isolation. As the term ‘final solution’ indicates, it was intended as the culmination of a broad effort to ethnically cleanse(1) Europe of its Jews – an effort that preceded the Holocaust and continued even after it ended. This paper argues that in a curious ideological relationship, Zionists(2) and their supporters embraced much of the ideological framework of European anti-Semitism, and, except for its most intense manifestation in the form of genocide, implicitly endorsed the effort to ethnically cleanse Jews from Europe and make Europe judenrein (free of Jews). . .

    . . . Zionism arose in Europe within the milieu of völkisch and ethnic nationalism and in reaction to the racist anti-Semitism that accompanied it(6). Instead of directly challenging the core ideological assumptions and narratives of völkisch nationalism, mainstream Zionists(7) sought to find an accommodation that would carve out a secure niche for Jews within the overall framework of völkisch nationalism. In so doing, Zionists, whether out of genuine convictions or otherwise, seem to have accepted and even internalized some of the core values and assumptions of völkisch nationalism. Jews, claimed the Zionists, constituted a nation, or a ‘Volk,’ united by ties of blood, with its national homeland located in Eretz Israel (the land of Israel). The solution to the ‘Jewish problem,’ they declared, lay in transferring the diaspora Jewish population to their national homeland, the only place where Jews could establish the organic blood-and-soil links necessary for any nation to flourish. Theodor Herzl, considered by many to be the father of the Jewish state, believed that European anti-Semites and Zionists would cooperate with each other to advance their mutually complementary goals of cleansing Europe of its Jews and transferring the Jewish population to Eretz Israel. Partly quoting Herzl, one author describes Herzl’s reasoning,

    [Herzl] predicted that the anti-Semites would be Zionism’s best supporters: “the Government of all countries scourged by anti-Semitism will be keenly interested in assisting us to obtain [the] sovereignty we want.” … Furthermore, “honest anti-Semites … will combine with our officials in controlling the transfer of our estates.” … He unapologetically affirmed: “The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.” (Massad 178)

    In the early years of the Third Reich, Zionists were quite eager to cooperate with the Nazi regime, even though its anti-Semitic credentials were never in doubt. The most famous example of the Nazi-Zionist cooperation is the Haavara Agreement, which facilitated the transfer of German Jews to Palestine. There were many other avenues for cooperation as well. In Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt quotes Hans Lamm, a leading member of the German Jewish community, “it is indisputable that during the first stages of their Jewish policy the National socialists thought it proper to adopt a pro-Zionist attitude” (Arendt 58). Arendt then goes on to explain why this was so:

    It was in those years a fact of everyday life that only Zionists had any chance of negotiating the German authorities, for the simple reason that their chief Jewish adversary, the Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith, to which ninety-five percent of organized Jews in Germany then belonged, specified in its bylaws that its chief task was the “fight against anti-Semitism”; it had suddenly become by definition an organization “hostile to the State.” (Arendt 58)

    What is unsaid, but implied in Arendt’s comments, is that the Zionists did not consider the “fight against anti-Semitism” their chief task, and perhaps, not their task at all.

    According to the logic of Zionism, the root cause of Jewish suffering was not anti-Semitism per se, but the Jewish exile from their national homeland. In this view, anti-Semitism was no more than the inevitable consequence of the Jewish exile, which had severed the organic bond between the Jewish people and their homeland, and had eroded the Jews’ moral fiber, reducing them to a ‘parasitic’ existence, thereby arousing the ill-will and hatred of their ‘host nations.’ The Zionists thus accepted and endorsed the notion, advanced by völkisch anti-Semites, that Jews in Europe were alien parasites. The Zionists then called upon Jews to rectify this dire situation by ‘returning’ to their homeland, shedding their ‘parasitic’ disposition, and becoming self-reliant and valorous farmers and warriors. David Ben-Gurion describes the task at hand:

    The very realization of Zionism is nothing else than carrying out this deep historical transformation occurring in the life of the Hebrew people. This transformation does not limit itself to the geographical aspect, to the movement of Jewish masses from the countries of the Diaspora to the renascent homeland – but in a socioeconomic transformation as well: it means taking masses of uprooted, impoverished, sterile Jews, living parasitically off an alien economic body and dependent on others – and introducing them to productive and creative life, implanting them on the land, integrating them into primary production in agriculture, in industry and handicraft… (Avineri, 200) . . .


    • Rob Roy on March 7, 2017, 6:20 pm

      JLewisDickerson: Thank you for an interesting excerpt.
      However, your first sentence is wrong ,”The Holocaust was by far the worst genocide in human history.” Horrible as the Jewish Holocaust was, the Armenian Holocaust was even worse. Zionist Jews in Washington, D.C. blocked a section of the Holocaust Museum from being a display of the Armenian Holocaust. They insist at all times that the Jewish Holocaust is the ONLY one of any importance that ever happened and the only one ever worth mentioning. It’s upsetting when anyone denies the Jewish Holocaust, but just as upsetting when Jews deny the Armenian Holocaust. .

      • JLewisDickerson on March 9, 2017, 6:02 am

        [Dis]Honourable mention should perhaps go to King Leopold’s holocaust in the Congo!

        Congo Free State
        From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ~

        The Congo Free State (French: État indépendant du Congo, lit. “Independent State of the Congo”) was a large state in Central Africa from 1885 to 1908, which was in personal union with the Kingdom of Belgium under Leopold II. Leopold was able to procure the region by convincing the European community that he was involved in humanitarian and philanthropic work and would not tax trade.[2] Via the International Association of the Congo he was able to lay claim to most of the Congo basin. On May 29, 1885, the king named his new colony the Congo Free State. The state would eventually include an area now held by the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

        Leopold’s reign in the Congo eventually earned infamy due to the increasing mistreatment of the indigenous peoples. Leopold extracted ivory, rubber, and minerals in the upper Congo basin for sale on the world market, even though his nominal purpose in the region was to uplift the local people and develop the area. Under Leopold II’s administration, the Congo Free State became one of the greatest international scandals of the early-20th century. The report of the British Consul Roger Casement led to the arrest and punishment of white officials who had been responsible for killings during a rubber-collecting expedition in 1903.

        The loss of life and atrocities inspired literature such as Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, and raised an international outcry. Debate has been ongoing about the high death rate in this period.[3] The boldest estimate concludes that the forced labour system led directly and indirectly to the deaths of 20 percent of the population.[4] During the Congo Free State propaganda war, European and US reformers exposed atrocities in the Congo Free State to the public through the Congo Reform Association, founded by Casement and the fervent humanitarian journalist E. D. Morel. Also active in exposing the activities of the Congo Free State was the author Arthur Conan Doyle, whose book The Crime of the Congo was widely read in the early 1900s. By 1908, public pressure and diplomatic manoeuvres led to the end of Leopold II’s rule and to the annexation of the Congo as a colony of Belgium. It became known thenceforth as the Belgian Congo. In addition, a number of major Belgian investment companies pushed the Belgian government to take over the Congo and develop the mining sector as it was virtually untapped.[5] . . .

        Death toll
        A reduction of the population of the Congo is noted by all who have compared the country at the beginning of Leopold’s control with the beginning of Belgian state rule in 1908, but estimates of the death toll vary considerably. Estimates of contemporary observers suggest that the population decreased by half during this period and these are supported by some modern scholars such as Jan Vansina.[35] Others dispute this. Scholars at the Royal Museum for Central Africa argue a decrease of 15 percent over the first forty years of colonial rule (up to the census of 1924).[citation needed]

        According to British diplomat Roger Casement, this depopulation had four main causes: “indiscriminate war”, starvation, reduction of births, and disease.[36] Sleeping sickness was also a major cause of fatality at the time. Opponents of Leopold’s rule stated, however, that the administration itself was to be considered responsible for the spreading of the epidemic.[37]

        In the absence of a census providing even an initial idea of the size of population of the region at the inception of the Congo Free State (the first was taken in 1924),[38] it is impossible to quantify population changes in the period. Despite this, Forbath claimed the loss was at least five million[39] Adam Hochschild, and Isidore Ndaywel è Nziem, 10 million;[40][41] However, no verifiable records exist. Louis and Stengers state that population figures at the start of Leopold’s control are only “wild guesses”, while calling E.D. Morel’s attempt and others at coming to a figure for population losses “but figments of the imagination”.[42]

        Nevertheless, Hochschild cites several recent independent lines of investigation, by anthropologist Jan Vansina and others, that examine local sources (police records, religious records, oral traditions, genealogies, personal diaries), which generally agree with the assessment of the 1919 Belgian government commission: roughly half the population perished during the Free State period. Since the first official census by the Belgian authorities in 1924 put the population at about 10 million, these various approaches suggest a rough estimate of a total of 10 million dead.[43] To put these population changes in context, sourced references state that in 1900 Africa as a whole had between 90 million[44] and 133 million people.[45] . . .

        Genocide question
        In the aftermath of the 1998 publication of King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild, where he had written “the killing in the Congo was of genocidal proportions”, but “it was not strictly speaking a genocide”,[49] The Guardian reported that the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Brussels would finance an investigation into some of the claims made by Hochschild. An investigatory panel announced in 2002, likely to be headed by Professor Jean-Luc Vellut, was scheduled to report its findings in 2004.[47] Robert G. Weisbord stated in the 2003 Journal of Genocide Research that attempting to eliminate a portion of the population is enough to qualify as genocide under the UN convention. In the case of the Congo Free State, the unbearable conditions would qualify as a genocide.[49]

        In the aftermath of the report, an exhibition was held at the Royal Museum for Central Africa entitled The Memory of Congo. Critics, including Hochschild, claimed that there were “distortions and evasions” in the exhibition and stated “The exhibit deals with this question in a wall panel misleadingly headed ‘Genocide in the Congo?’ This is a red herring, for no reputable historian of the Congo has made charges of genocide; a forced labor system, although it may be equally deadly, is different.”[4] An early day motion presented to the British Parliament in 2006 described “the tragedy of King Leopold’s regime” as genocide and called for an apology from the Belgian government. It received the signature of 48 members of parliament.[50] . . .

        P. S. On second thought, perhaps the U.S. is more deseving of [dis]honourable mention than is Belgium’s Leopold II.

  8. Kaisa of Finland on March 7, 2017, 4:53 pm

    So does this mean that the “dream of a Jewish democracy” is turning in to a Zionist dictatorship?? Atleast the political methods of Netanyahu’s goverment remind me of the ones Erdogan is using in Turkey.. And they do not sound that democratic either..

    • Kaisa of Finland on March 7, 2017, 5:05 pm

      … and soon the jails of Israel won’t only be filled with palestinians, but also with those jewish dissidents who do not agree with the ideology of their own government..

      • inbound39 on March 7, 2017, 5:41 pm

        Precisely Kaisa…..and where will the Special Relationship stand with Americans then…..will they still remain silent and grin cheesily at Netanyahu or will they finally get the intestinal fortitude to jettison Israel?

      • JLewisDickerson on March 9, 2017, 6:48 am

        RE: “grin cheesily at Netanyahu”

        ■ LIKE THIS?

    • Elizabeth Block on March 8, 2017, 10:49 am

      It’s not turning into a Zionist dictatorship. It already is one.

  9. Marnie on March 8, 2017, 12:43 am

    Trump was talking about the immigration policies of his govt, making sure ‘bad dudes’ don’t get in by what he called, as if he created it, ‘extreme vetting’. Making sure that people who enter the united states do so because they ‘love the people’ and ‘love the country’, but he must have been dissauded from adding that they love me. A loyalty oath to follow? I guess that son-in-law is good for something other than knocking up tRUMPs precious little first lady in waiting after all.

    US border agents ask Muhammad Ali’s son: ‘Are you a Muslim?’ | US … › US News › Trump travel ban

  10. Elizabeth Block on March 8, 2017, 10:50 am

    People say, Oh, Trump isn’t anti-Semitic, he has a Jewish son-in-law. Well, the top Nazis had their pet Jews. Jared Kushner is Trump’s pet Jew.

  11. Mooser on March 8, 2017, 11:22 am

    If I am only for BDSing the settlements, can I go in as far as my knees?

  12. Misterioso on March 8, 2017, 3:59 pm

    Bearing in mind that it is International Women’s Day:

    “Gaza’s women of steel”

    “Women in Gaza are stepping up as family breadwinners, breaking cultural norms as they strive to make ends meet.”

  13. Mivasair on March 9, 2017, 2:15 am

    This new law is despicable and is one more sign of Israel’s deterioration. However, I want to clarify a detail.

    As I understand it, the law does not forbid entrance to those, like myself, who support BDS. Rather it gives authority to border authorities to deny entrance on those grounds.

    That is a significant distinction. Not everyone who supports BDS is banned. The comment in the article about all Jews who don’t support Netanyahu’s policies and all EU diplomats being banned, etc, is obviously not going to happen. Rather, I expect there will be more refusals of entry and more people hassled and harassed. I expect it will be applied sporadically and selectively, not categorically.

    This new law obviously won’t stop anyone’s support of BDS. It’s main effect will be to further isolate Israel and further persuade the world that Israel is becoming more and more incapable of correcting itself.

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