An executive of the New Israel Fund, one of the left-wing NGOs currently being targeted by the Israeli government for receiving foreign-state funds, was detained for questioning at Ben Gurion Airport, Haaretz reported on Thursday.
The vice-president of the NIF, Jennifer Gorovitz, said that she was delayed for an hour-and-a-half by immigration officials who interrogated her about the organization’s activities and finances.
Gorovitz arrived in the country on Wednesday for an NIF board meeting. It was apparently the first time a senior INF official has faced this type of treatment at the airport.
The incident occurred against the background of a series of protests made by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in meetings with British and Belgian leaders concerning foreign funding of groups that seek to undermine the IDF and Israel. Also on Thursday, the Belgian ambassador to Israel received an official reprimand at the Foreign Ministry following his prime minister’s visit with Breaking the Silence.
Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg on Thursday demanded an explanation for the questioning, and urged Interior Minister Rabbi Arye Deri to clarify the matter.
“This is political persecution, harassment and an attempt to silence those who fight for Israeli society,” Zandberg wrote in a letter to the minister. Israel’s gates, she said, cannot be a place for “harassment and political labeling.”
“I would like to know why Gorovitz was detained, and if there is a special procedure relating to members of human rights and civil society organizations,” the letter said.
During the questioning, Gorovitz said she declared to the officials that she is “a Jew and a Zionist,” but was nevertheless accused by them of “building the society of the Palestinians.”
“It was humiliating and emotionally scarring to find that, although I am a Jew and a Zionist, I might not be allowed into the country because I do not adhere to the government’s ultra right-wing ideology,” Gorowitz said. “I was truly shocked that this place I love so much would turn me away at its gates.”
Gorovitz said she was also asked about involvement in BDS, but she told the border official that she’s against BDS and denied any such involvement.
The Interior Ministry’s Population Immigration and Border Authority spokesperson, Sabine Hadad, said in response, “The passenger, who raised the border inspectors’ suspicion, as occasionally happens, was taken for brief questioning and released. Altogether she was detained for about an hour. Beyond that, it’s not clear where the inaccurate facts were taken from, in view of the fact that the issue of BDS wasn’t mentioned and wasn’t the reason for the questioning.”