Ynet reports (Hebrew) that the Shin Bet detained a 26 year-old Irish woman at Dublin airport when she arrived three hours prior to flight time (in order to go through the security check). She’d hoped to fly to Israel for a romantic reunion with her Israeli boyfriend, Alon, who she’d met in South America. It was to be her first visit to Israel.
When the Shin Bet security interrogators asked her why she was flying to Israel and she told them, they actually called her boyfriend in Israel to confirm this. They asked personal questions about the nature of their relationship. But that wasn’t enough.
At first, she was told she could board the flight, but without any personal electronic devices. Then, she was told she couldn’t bring any luggage at all. When offered this option, after the decidedly chilly reception she’d experienced from the Israeli security apparatus, she said: thanks, but no thanks. The distinct impression she got from her inquisitors was that the only reason she was treated this way is that she isn’t Jewish.
Keep in mind that her boyfriend is a former IDF officer who served his country and understood the need for security precautions.
During her trip to South America, she’d met many Israelis who told her about the bad rap that Israel got in the world media. They assured her that the real Israel was something else entirely.
The Shabak claims that it told the woman she could board the flight without her baggage and could send it separately via London. She denies they made this offer. They also claim that they couldn’t allow her luggage aboard because it required scanning by a special device which local airport security didn’t make available to them. I’d venture to say that if any Irish journalist picks up on this story and queries officials at Dublin airport they’ll find this is a crock. But the way the Shin Bet works, it only has to deflect criticism for a day or so for the embarrassing incident to be forgotten (or so they expect). That’s why they often don’t even make a pretence of having a credible story.
Alon’s girl still wants to reunite with him–anywhere but Israel. So think about this, if Alon and his girlfriend someday marry, where do you think they’ll live? Anywhere but Israel. But that won’t bother the racist thugs who control entry to the Jewish homeland. They prefer their guests and betrothed to be Jewish. Non-Jews need not apply. The needs of the national security state trump love and romance.
There are two lessons to be learned from this story. First, don’t fly to Israel on an Israeli airline. Second, if I were Irish authorities I’d demand the head of whoever was responsible for this mess. In South Africa, when a flyer was abused racially, the authorities threatened to ban the airline from flying to South Africa. That got Israel’s attention.
Since I published this story, Maan reporter George Hale told me he received the exact same treatment. He was told on two separate occasions that he could only fly without luggage (that’s besides the regular strip searches). The Shin Bet official told him he could retrieve it “the next time you’re in Zurich.”. That didn’t sit too well with George since it was everything he needed to practice his profession.
When he arrived at Ben Gurion he filed a complaint with the Press Office and the Shin Bet relented and returned his effects (which included all his electronic reporting gear). The Irish lass’ story is, unfortunately, not unique.
This article was published at Tikun Olam