Comment is Free, Sam Bahour, Adam Shapiro and the malice of anti-Israel “activists”

It appears that the latest flytilla‘ provocation has been granted the Guardian seal of approval. On July 5th CiF published an article by Sam Bahour  extolling its virtues and attempting to place it in the category of people standing up for their ‘rights’.  

It all sounds so innocent and pastoral according to Sam Bahour, but just as his own Guardian profile has been sanitised into something approaching the anaemic, carefully editing out his connections to and affiliations with a plethora of anti-Israel organisations, so the ‘flytilla’ has been given a similar cosmetic make-over in this piece. 

Every sovereign country has the prerogative to deny entry to whomsoever it sees fit: there is no automatic ‘human right’ to travel to a country of which one is not a citizen, as Israelis – perhaps more than many others – well know. The fact that the holder of a specific type of passport may not be required to apply in advance for a visa to the country to which he wishes to travel does not guarantee automatic right of entry; it just means that the application process is carried out upon arrival and an entry stamp, which doubles as a visa for a limited period of time, is given (or not) at passport control. In this respect, Israel’s border authorities behave no differently than any other nation, but apparently Sam Bahour believes that what is accepted common practice in all other nations of the world should not apply to Israel. Some might call that a case of double standards. 

Bahour’s unsubstantiated claim that Israel denies the Palestinians ‘the right to receive visitors’ is of course absurd. Were that the case, we would not for one thing see the endless stream of B list celebs and intellectuals, activists known as Internationals‘ and misguided Christian ‘peace-makers’ wandering around the territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority. One of the ‘flytilla’ organisers, Mick Napier, claims to have visited the Palestinian-controlled territories numerous times; clearly disproving Bahour’s empty claims.

It is also of course possible to reach the Palestinian controlled areas either via Egypt (in the case of the Gaza Strip) or by means of a flight to Amman and a road journey to any of the three border crossings.  Had the Palestinian Authority continued with the Oslo process rather than choosing to initiate the second Intifada, it would by now not only have had its own border crossing with Jordan, but the level of security necessary today would not have come about. There were days – not very long ago – when one could travel unhindered, but terrorism brought that to an end.  Sam Bahour obviously subscribes to the much touted belief that Palestinians should never be required to take responsibility for the outcomes of their actions and decisions.

But beyond the practical, the most ridiculous aspect of Bahour’s article is the attempt to paint those scheduled to arrive en masse at Ben Gurion airport this coming Friday as ‘visitors’ – as though they were coming to see his new sofa. They are nothing of the sort; this is a pre-coordinated political provocation hatched by a group of anti-Israel organisations and activists and aided and abetted by radical far-Left elements inside Israel.  One of the organising bodies is the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) which is notorious for advising its foreign activists to deceive airport security when trying to enter Israel. Here is some travel advice from their website:

“Visitors coming in solidarity with the Palestinian people and/or to support Palestinian non-violent resistance therefore face a difficult situation. If they admit the goals of their visit to Israeli border staff, and admit any association with ISM, they will most likely be denied entry. If they state other reasons for their visit, they can also be accused of lying to Israeli authorities and denied entry for this reason.”

“Faced with this dilemma, some activists choose not to talk about their activist goals and instead explain other reasons for their visit, such as visiting the Holy Land, visiting an Israeli friend, tourism, etc. These activists generally articulate a clear plan for their visit, including places they will stay within Israel and the names, addresses and phone numbers of people they will be visiting (not mentioning visits to Palestinians).”

Here is the ISM co-founder and leader, Adam Shapiro, explaining exactly what the aim of the various ‘tactics’ employed by his organization is.


The ‘flytilla’ is indeed just another of the tactics in the arsenal of people such as Adam Shapiro, Mick Napier and Paul Larudee ; people who talk about “60 years of occupation”, people who openly admit to wanting to “undermine Israel” and spark conflict between “Israel and the rest of the world”.  As for those who have signed up for the campaign (donating their time and buying their own plane tickets), they have the responsibility to inform themselves of the objectives and affiliations of the organizers before they consent to becoming foot-soldiers for terrorist sympathizers and enablers. If they decide to go ahead regardless, they certainly should not feign surprise if they are turned back. No country on earth is required to respect the ‘rights’ of those collaborating with elements which seek its destruction.

But whilst we’re on the subject of rights, what about those of the other people – the real tourists and travellers – who will be flying to Tel Aviv on Friday from London, Paris, Zurich, Frankfurt or Rome? Are they entitled to expect the airport authorities and the airline with which they fly not to expose them unnecessarily to the possibility of harassment or danger by taking on board passengers willingly acting as pawns for people with links to Hamas?

One suspects that the editor who commissioned this article from Bahour might be a little less forthcoming with the Guardian stamp of approval for the ‘flytilla’ if his own children happened to be aboard one of those planes.  Yet another example of the Guardian’s double standards on Israel.  

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