Today, responding to news reports that Laura Mandel, a board member of the Abraham Initiatives, was questioned, subject to additional scrutiny and separated from her belongings by Israeli border security because of the NGO’s activities to promote equality between Arab and Jewish citizens in Israel, 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 and opportunities for political targeting. The government is demonstrating that the test for entering the country is a political one — either you agree with this government or you’re subject to questioning, intimidation, or refusal. This may be legal, but it’s morally unacceptable and anti-democratic.
“Over the last year, we have seen how the Israeli government 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 an 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.
“Now, after a campaign season marked by racism and delegitimization toward Palestinian citizens of Israel, this border practice has been applied to Laura Mandel, a former NIF staff member and current board member of the Abraham Initiatives which promotes partnership and equality between Jews and Arabs in Israel. It is as if the very idea of equality is cause for alarm.
“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.”