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Detained at BG Airport Photo: MCT
Detained at BG Airport Photo: MCT
 
 

'Preventing flytilla not necessarily best for Israel'

Diplomats remain divided over whether success in preventing pro-Palestinian fly-in serves Israel's PR interests

Aviel Magnezi
Published: 04.16.12, 09:14 / Israel News

Israel's efforts to stop the pro-Palestinian 'flytilla' have been ruled successful, but there is still a difference of opinion among Israeli officials as to whether the "stopgap solution" was effective, or did it actually do Israeli PR more harm than good, in the long-run.

 

Israel's diplomatic efforts vis-à-vis the European Union were largely successful, as most European airlines refused to allow pro-Palestinian activist to board their flights.

 

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Despite organizers' prediction that over 1,500 people will arrive in Israel, only about 100 arrived and authorities refused the entry of 78 people; the majority of whom were detained and are now awaiting deportation.

 

 

Only a handful of activists eventually arrived in Bethlehem.

 

Former Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Liel believes the mass security forces deployment at Ben Gurion International Airport shamed Israel, while Zvi Mazael, former Israeli ambassador to Sweden, said that refusing to allow the activists entry to Israel further impeded the anti-Israeli bloc's efforts to seek legitimization.

 


פעילי המטס בנתב"ג. "רמיסת זכות דמוקרטית" (צילום: EPA)

'Why are we so afraid?' (Photo: EPA)

 

Liel cautioned that Israel's reaction to what he called "a bunch of students and elderly ladies from Europe, who only wanted to hoist a sign in favor of a Palestinian state," was disproportionate.

 

"I don't understand what's the big deal. Why are we so afraid of these people?"

 

In the time that has passed since the first Gaza flotilla, Liel noted, Israel has become exceptionally proficient at dealing with such events. "But I want us to be different than the countries where you can't protest at the airport.

 

"This raving logistic success doesn’t make me happy… Trampling over the right to say 'I support Palestine' is exaggerated and undemocratic."

 

Mazael, however, disagrees. The former ambassador said he believes there is great difference between pro-Palestinian acts and anti-Israel ones.  

 


פעילים נעצרים בשדה התעופה בניס. "מטרתם רק להשמיץ" (צילום: MCT)

'Not peace activists but provocateurs' (Photo: EPA) 

 

"Israel did well in preparing as it did and making sure that the activists were refused entry.

 

"It's important to understand that these were not peace activists but provocateurs who only wish to see Israel isolated even further."

 

Mazael says the "flytilla" was the brainchild of Palestinian elements, who "joined forces with European and American radical-Left activists and are operating alongside innocent students, many of whom don’t really understand the core of the conflict, Islam or why they were dragged here.

 

"Israel prevented a potential PR catastrophe," he asserted, adding that one of Jerusalem's greatest achievements vis-à-vis the fly-in was minimizing the global media's interest in the move.

 

"The fact that nothing happened made it uninteresting to the media. Any riot would have made headlines and have fueled the Arab deceit, which is already backed by the European Left and naïveté. That's a very dangerous combination for Israel," he concluded.

 

 

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