Today, responding to the news that journalist Peter Beinart was detained and interrogated by Israeli officials at Ben Gurion airport, Daniel Sokatch, CEO of the New Israel Fund, released the following statement:
“The Netanyahu government has shown once again that it is now a matter of policy to use border crossings as interrogation chambers. The government is demonstrating that the test for entering the country is a political one — either you agree with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ultra-right wing coalition or you’re subject to questioning, intimidation, or refusal. This may be legal, but it’s morally unacceptable and anti-democratic.
“The Israeli government has mobilized every ministry to mark its political enemies, including its own citizens and legal residents, its lifelong supporters, and visitors from many backgrounds. This is the next escalation of a longstanding practice that has targeted visitors of Palestinian or Arab descent, and those who are not Jewish, with extra scrutiny at the border.
“This is simply not something a democracy does. Israel now finds itself in very poor company: Only a government with something to hide would work this hard to keep out those with whom it disagrees. This is a clarion call to all who care about Israeli democracy: the time to speak up is now.”