Israel has forced low-cost airline Jet2.com to cancel the tickets of three women from Manchester intending to travel to Bethlehem via Tel Aviv this weekend for a gathering of pro-Palestinian activists.The article reports that Israel is taking this policy with other airlines as well.
Jet2.com informed the women by email that the airline would refuse to carry them and no refund would be paid. The move follows pressure on airlines from Israel to ban known activists.
Ahead of Sunday's planned 'fly-in,' Israel's Interior Minister sends airlines list of names of blacklisted activists, threatens punitive steps if companies allow them to board Israel-bound flights.
Referring to a list of names of known pro-Palestinian activists whom Israel suspects will attempt to enter the country over the weekend, which was included in the letter, Shmueli writes, "In light of the above, you are requested not to board them onto Israel-bound flights.
The letter then goes on to threaten punitive steps if the airlines fail to comply with Israeli demands. "A failure to uphold this directive is liable to lead to leveling of sanctions against the airlines."
My concern is that this branding of activists which Israel has started may take on a life of its own. What if airlines share the list and add to it? What if Israel broadens its labeling to include critics. This is a slippery slope.
What if the list the airlines gets is used by the US as well to restrict movement in the US as well. This is a meme that is very dangerous.
Other nations have a way of dealing with this kind of thing. They do to the nation what the nation does to its people. If a US citizen wants to go to Brazil, for example, she must go to the Brazilian consulate and apply for a visa. Once at the consulate there are run-around chores that are not apparent, that jerk the traveller around. Why? Because the US imposes that treatment on Brazilians seeking entry to the US. Just saying. Maybe some nations should do the same to Israel.
Of course, some will argue that Israel has the right to keep troublemakers out, that blocking protesters from entering the country is a reasonable approach to security. My problem is that slippery slope, the possibility what starts as a program to keep out pro-Palestinian activists could morph into something bigger, more insidious, which covers any protester, even journalists who cover protests or who write op-eds criticizing Israel, or whatever. As the shadow of the security state looms larger and larger, darkening mankind's future, this action by Israel could accelerate the darkness.