J Street was alarmed by yesterday’s detention of Jennifer Gorovitz at Ben Gurion Airport. Gorovitz, a vice president at the New Israel Fund, was held and questioned for an hour due to “national security concerns” related to her political activism.
While pleased that the Israeli government apologized for the trauma they inflicted on Gorovitz, we are troubled that they described the detention as “routine.”
There is nothing routine about Israeli authorities viewing an NIF official as a national security threat and detaining her at the airport. This action is emblematic of a troubling trend: Israel views well-intentioned friends who question its policies with suspicion and scorn.
The open exchange of ideas is vital to a functioning democratic society. Shutting out critical voices is not only contrary to Israel’s founding values of tolerance and equality – it hurts Israel’s standing on the world stage and hampers its ability to reckon with the very real issues threatening its future.
Much of the opposition – internally and externally – to settlement expansion and anti-democratic trends in Israeli society stem from genuine concerns about its future as the democratic homeland of the Jewish people. Shutting out and ignoring individuals, organizations and countries who raise concerns about these issues will not make them go away. Instead, it will deepen Israel’s international isolation and eat away at its democratic norms.
Passionate advocates for Israel who speak out against government policies should never be harassed for their views. They should be welcomed, with open arms, as the friends and supporters that they are.