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Israel’s border interrogations and the ‘MeToo’ cascade

Israel/Palestine
on 12 Comments

Four days ago, the prominent Jewish author, columnist and political commentator Peter Beinart was detained and interrogated at Israel’s Ben Gurion airport, and he reported in detail about the ordeal in the Forward. Prime Minister Netanyahu went into damage-control mode and called it an “administrative mistake”. 

Beinart’s account prompted bestselling author on religion Reza Aslan, who came out with his story of border detention and interrogation by Israel, which occurred two weeks ago. He said Israel is “becoming a full-blown police state”. He reported how he was threatened: “If you don’t cooperate it will be a long time before you see your kids again”.

Already here, there is a significant pattern to be noticed, and although it might be early to predict such trends, I would say that this reminds me a lot of the MeToo movement.

Peter Beinart is one of those privileged Jews who could historically count on their privilege. And he was apparently poised to write his experience down and have it splashed all over the world if they but dared to touch him. He has the public clout, the credibility, to expose Israel in a very bad light, and Israel quickly realized it was messing things up for itself, PR-wise. But Reza Aslan, he was not inclined to do that, he was in a somewhat more vulnerable position, despite his prominence. He noted that the recent visit to Israel was his fourth in the past decade, and that the repeated interrogations have gotten worse. Somehow, he chose to live with it. There is a logic to this. Israel uses intimidation-terror, which causes those more vulnerable people who may want to enter in the future to watch out for what they say and do, because “we are watching you”. As Aslan reported:

In the end, after hours of this, she warned “I may let you into Israel but, who knows, I may not let you out. I will keep you here and kick out your family. It depends on you. You would miss your kids yes?” That my friends is the classic police state trick. Iran has perfected it. Her final warning was not to visit the Palestinian Territories. Not to meet with or speak to any Palestinians or any Israeli trouble makers. “We are watching you.”

People who know they are being watched tend to be careful, and they know that if they are too vocal in their condemnation of Big Brother, it may cost them. They tend to keep a low profile. There’s a risk calculation here.

Beinart’s report was a door-opener for Aslan and he wrote on Twitter, “Peter’s experience has spurred me to share mine. ” Aslan probably felt that this was the time to go for it, because there is momentum here, and it might actually mean something to come out of the ‘interrogation closet’ as it were. Aslan might also be aware that what he wrote may mean that he would be denied entry in the future. Aslan wrote openly that he defied the warning not to visit the Palestinian Territories, and posted a photo of the Ahed Tamimi mural in Bethlehem. In other words, he was openly declaring that he has defied Israeli warnings. He knows Israel monitors these things, and he’s basically declaring he doesn’t care. 

The MeToo campaign has succeeded because of the critical mass of women coming out with stories which they felt a need to hide, because they felt that if they came out with them it would cost them and that they would be alone. But when more and more women came out with their stories, it became its own momentum, because other women felt that they were not alone, and they could see that it had the power to take down those who abused the power. There is this element of a critical mass, where people actually start to listen. It’s no longer a lone voice here, a single story there – it becomes a movement. 

Such movements are not subject to the linear rules of international law, UN resolutions etc. They have their own power. It’s a grassroots power, very much like the BDS movement. It’s no longer the talk of ‘this is illegal’, but rather ‘this is outrageous’. Public condemnation has its own power. In the BDS context, campaigns will often be based upon a specific violation by a specific company. But with these border interrogations, people may come at it with a whole different perspective: they may simply start saying openly that that they would not visit Israel, and that they would boycott it wholly for its practices. Not that they would necessarily fear interrogation themselves, but that they would simply want nothing to do with that state for what it regularly does to others.

And it’s not like it’s a secret that Israel has been using these methods. Sadly, the Israeli interrogation and intimidation culture has been inflicted upon Palestinians forever, with little public outrage. Israel has managed to inculcate the ‘security’ notion and justify its ‘racial profiling’ under that notion, and many kept quiet. But now that it has increasingly been targeting Jews, and not only from abroad but even Israelis (see author Moriel Rothman-Zecher), the purpose of the interrogations can no longer fall under these alibis. They become exposed as an unabashed political censorship, befitting a police state.

It is already clear, that thick volumes could be written with stories like that of Aslan. It is a regular occurrence for so many who are not Jewish. And now they are increasingly coming after the Jewish dissidents. It’s not a completely new phenomena, but it appears to be increasing and we are hearing more stories about it. What is important is not just that the stories are told, but that people listen. And when Peter Beinart and Reza Aslan tell their stories, people tend to listen. Israel can only answer with pathetic Hasbara, that is so boilerplate, that many people just don’t hear it anymore.

P.S. After finishing this post I saw this tweet from the author Gershom Gorenberg. Seems I’m not the only one to have noticed this:

About Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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12 Responses

  1. amigo
    amigo
    August 16, 2018, 12:58 pm

    I guess we won.t be seeing Peter Beinart on CNN for a while.

    He wil have to redeem himself publicly and submìt to the usual “Wing Clipping” (Goldstone style) before he is welcomed back into the tribe.

    Will he relent or show some chutzpah.

    • pabelmont
      pabelmont
      August 20, 2018, 8:31 am

      CNN (and USA MS Media) are, by implication here, which I believe accurate, in effect arms of Israel’s police-state and/or propaganda services. They censor what Americans see, hear, and know about Israel.

      I hope the new (too small) crop of independent Democratic Party candidates will speak up about this stuff, trying to establish a #MeToo w.r.t. Israeli misdeeds and American-political support therefore here in the USA.

      Let us all thank Peter Beinart and Reza Aslan. Sometimes torture-victims must speak out.

  2. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    August 16, 2018, 3:06 pm

    @Amigo
    Peter Beinart being interviewed on an Aussie News Channel ref his interrogation;
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3eWrhgoNI0

    Judge for yourself of course but I think he is gritting his teeth because he just can`t bring himself to saying the obvious ie Zioland has become an Apartheid Police State.

    He is being interviewed whilst still in Zioland of course so his position may change once he has left BG Airport ( with or without a two for the price of one S..t Bet interrogation ).

    On a general note are we reaching the point given the increasing numbers of foreigners being given the Ziozombie interrogation treatment on arrival + departure where Tour Operators (and Governments ) should really be red flagging Zioland as a “risk” destination where visitors may be subject to Orwellian practices ?

    Cue the usual howls of “Anti- Semitism” , “double standards” and the full whataboutery menu. Yawn.

    Tick tick

    • amigo
      amigo
      August 16, 2018, 8:08 pm

      0ssinev , we will see what he has to say when he is no longer in captivity.Did he say he has relatives there ??.

      I saw a cnn program today in which Amanpour interviewed Lawrence Wright . He ripped the zio entity a new rectum and even mentioned Deir Yassin and referred to Begin as a terrorist and mentioned a few other facts I have never before heard on cnn.Maybe it was because it was the European version and probably did not air in the US.

      Sorry I cannot fnd a link but you might be able to locate it.Well worth a listen. Scroll to the last 10 mins or so to get to the relevant portion.

      Btw , I do not rely on cnn for info re Palestine/Israel news , (I just happened on this) but cnn is the only US channel available to me in Ireland on “Free to Air ” and I get to stay informed on the Trump goings on.

  3. johneill
    johneill
    August 16, 2018, 9:32 pm

    a 972 writer coined the hashtag #fortressisrael to share these stories

  4. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    August 17, 2018, 10:15 am

    @amigo
    Further info ref Beinart`s detention and interrogation at BG Airport in his own words:
    https://forward.com/opinion/408066/peter-beinart-i-was-detained-at-ben-gurion-airport-because-of-my-beliefs/

    He says he was visiting Israel for his neice`s Bat Mitzvah ( the female equivalent of the male Bar Mitzvah) so yes it would appear he does have family there.

    Still get the sense of him being reluctant to really grasp the nettle and openly call out Zioland for what it has now become = a Fascist Racist Apartheid State

    As for the “administrative error”. Total Ziobollocks as in computer – key in name – action to be taken – action taken – whoops the Yahoo`s office got to hear about it = potentially bad PR limit damage = “administrative error” press release.

    As they say in Dublin? ” Do they think we came up the Liffey in a bubble?”

    Can`t find the Amanpour interview link which you referred to but good to hear that there are people out there who are reminding the public that the Ziocolony was largely the work of butchering terrorists like Begin and Shamir. Their terrorist apprenticeships including their murders of British Civilians and British Police officers apparently made them ideal material as Fascist Zioland PMs. And of course technically it makes all those Ziopoliticians and PMs inc the Yahoo who attend ceremonies commemmorating them and their deeds supporters of terrorism. Perhaps someone in JC`s camp should get in touch with the Daily Mail and remind them of this fact – doubt it will have any effect (Ziomoney etc) but it has the potential to create embarassment. Who knows ? Rival Newspaper Headline “Leading British Newspaper assailed for praising supporters of terrorists who butchered British civilians “

  5. Misterioso
    Misterioso
    August 17, 2018, 10:40 am

    @Ossinev

    “… good to hear that there are people out there who are reminding the public that the Ziocolony was largely the work of butchering terrorists like Begin and Shamir. Their terrorist apprenticeships including their murders of British Civilians and British Police officers apparently made them ideal material as Fascist Zioland PMs.”

    Well said!!

    For the record:
    What happened in Palestine between late 1947 and 1949 was described by eye-witness Nathan Chofshi, a Jewish immigrant from Russia, who arrived in Palestine in 1908 in the same group as David Ben-Gurion: “…we old Jewish settlers in Palestine who witnessed the flight know how and in what manner we, Jews, forced the Arabs to leave cities and villages…some of them were driven out by force of arms; others were made to leave by deceit, lying and false promises. It is enough to cite the cities of Jaffa, Lydda, Ramle, Beersheba, Acre from among numberless others.” (Jewish Newsletter, New York, February 9, 1959; quoted by Erskine Childers in “The Other Exodus, in From Haven to Conquest, ed. Professor Walid Khalidi, Harvard, p. 800)

    Chofshi was deeply ashamed of what his fellow Jews did to the Palestinians: “We came and turned the native Arabs into tragic refugees. And still we dare to slander and malign them, to besmirch their name. Instead of being deeply ashamed of what we did and of trying to undo some of the evil we committed…we justify our terrible acts and even attempt to glorify them.” (Nathan Chofshi, Jewish Newsletter, February 9, 1959; ibid, p. 803)

    Also: In 2004, when asked by Ha’aretz journalist, Ari Shavit, what new information his just completed revised version of The Birth of the Palestinian Problem 1947-1949 would provide, Israeli historian Benny Morris replied: “It is based on many documents that were not available to me when I wrote the original book, most of them from the Israel Defense Forces Archives. What the new material shows is that there were far more Israeli acts of massacre than I had previously thought. To my surprise, there were also many cases of rape. In the months of April-May 1948, units of the Haganah were given operational orders that stated explicitly that they were to uproot the villagers, expel them and destroy the villages themselves.” (Ha’aretz, January 9, 2004)

  6. genesto
    genesto
    August 17, 2018, 1:22 pm

    When we were taken into the little tent village set up for processing me and my fellow members of the 2010 Freedom Flotilla, on our way to prison, each of us was interrogated no less than 3-4 times with the same questions asked over and over again. Later, in prison, we were interrogated at least another 3 times. Whether this was just Zionist paranoia, which was at least part of the reason, or harassment and intimidation as well (each of us was threatened with more prison time if we didn’t sign a document agreeing that we entered Israel illegally [seriously]) I’m not entirely clear to this day.

    Anyway, it’s good to see that the Zionist state, without any fear of accountability, is going too far and losing more and more support, even of previously loyal Zionists, in the process. The end may be closer than many of us thought, folks.

  7. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    August 17, 2018, 1:52 pm

    Back to the JC jackal hunt and the latest from Dame Margaret Hodge – you know the one who has been described as a “political rottweiler”:
    https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/opinion/a-project-born-of-shady-deal-making-and-arrogance/10018959.article
    She has compared the news of the proposed Labour Party into her slandering of party leader Jeremy Corbyn as being an Anti -Semite(with or without the alleged F-word).
    “She said it reminded her of “what it felt like to be a Jew in Germany in the 30s.”
    “And when I heard about the disciplinary, my emotional response resonated with that feeling of fear”
    https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/politics/7033832/margaret-hodge-compares-jeremy-corbyn-labour-nazis/

    It would appear that the weiler has been taken out of the rott but the rott is still very much there. Poor diddums. Sob yawn.

    Here is a suggestion Ms Hodge. Why not spend a night or two in one of the many thousands native Palestinian homes in the West Bank. Odds are that you will get a real life experience of Fascist Stormtroopers breaking into a native family home at 3.00 am terrifying all the occupants including infants,trashing the home just for the hell of it and for good measure cuffing and blindfolding teenage members of the family and taking them away from their parents for specialist interrogation. Now THAT I suggest Ms Hodge is how it must have felt for innocent Jews in 1930`s Germany.

    What a revolting hypocrite.

  8. Ian Berman
    Ian Berman
    August 17, 2018, 4:28 pm

    Israel is drunk on its own power. It is now turning against those it was supposedly created to protect, that is if those Jews don’t toe the party line.

  9. pabelmont
    pabelmont
    August 20, 2018, 8:46 am

    Police State tactics are self-reinforcing at least until victims speak out and are widely heard.
    Witness the USA MS Media with its — in effect — job of giving service to the Israeli propaganda of the day. Brian Lehrer at WNYC is a good example (see https://mondoweiss.net/2018/08/yourself-catholic-lehrer/ ).

    Some USA MSM folks may be convinced Zionists, but it doesn’t seem to matter if their subservience to Israel is from fear or conviction. The fear may come from friends and family, from their membership in professional organizations, or from their bosses and other employment prospects. We live in a world of taboos and there is a huge taboo in the USA on speaking truth to Israeli power. Rachel Maddow does not break the taboo. She’s terrific but knows the rules.

    How often do you hear really straight-from-the-shoulder reports on current and future disasters fom global warming / climate change from USA MSM? Seems a taboo there too.

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