Prior to his being questioned at Israel’s international airport on Sunday, CNN political commentator and Israel critic Peter Beinart admits to consulting a George Soros-funded radical anti-Israel organization about “what to do if I were detained” upon entering Israel.
Beinart seems to have anticipated that he may be questioned upon landing at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport, and claims that he was detained for about an hour and questioned over “my beliefs.”
Beinart wrote in a column at the liberal Forward newspaper that prior to his latest visit to Israel this week, he previously participated in a protest in the West Bank city of Hebron, and that he “become involved in the protest” through the Center for Jewish Nonviolence.
The Center seeks to “bring an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza.” Israel refers to the West Bank, which houses ancient Jewish communities, as disputed and not occupied territory. Eastern Jerusalem includes the Temple Mount, Western Wall, and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.
The Center admits on its website that it deploys the “use of proactive nonviolence and noncooperation with systems of injustice.”
A Times of Israel article from July 2016 documented Beinart’s participation in a Hebron protest in which activists reportedly entered a building that had been declared a closed military zone by the IDF. The news outlet reported that the activists staged a sit-in and refused to leave when prompted by the Israeli military, leading to the arrests of six people.
Writing at the Forward, Beinart documented that before he departed to Tel Aviv, he consulted the New Israel Fund (NIF) about what to do if he were detained:
Before the trip I had asked friends at the New Israel Fund what to do if I were detained. They had generously put me in touch with the renowned Israeli human rights lawyer Gaby Lasky. Upon returning to the holding pen I knew that by calling Lasky and asking her to intervene, I could likely end my ordeal—something the people sitting around me could not do. I looked at my wife—who would not leave me and as a result was about to miss the first evening of Bat Mitzvah activities for her sister’s daughter—and made the call. A few minutes later I was free. The whole experience took just over an hour.
The New Israel Fund is a radical, foreign-funded anti-Israel NGO that in turn finances scores of anti-Israel groups.
Hacked emails document Soros’ Open Society Foundations provided the NIF with at least $837,500 from 2002 to 2015. Breitbart News found that NIF’s 2015 annual report lists the Tides Foundation as a donor. Tides is a far-left financing clearinghouse that itself is heavily funded by Soros’ Open Society nonprofit.
Beinart wrote that after landing in Tel Aviv for a family event, he was brought to a room where he was questioned about whether he was “involved in any organization that could provoke violence in Israel.”
When Beinart replied in the negative, he says that the security agent questioning him brought up the Hebron protest.
Then he told me that on my last trip to Israel I had participated in a protest, which is true. He asked where it occurred and I answered “Hebron.” He asked its purpose and I answered that we were protesting the fact that Palestinians in Hebron and across the West Bank lack basic rights. (I wrote about the protest at the time). He asked how I had become involved in the protest and I mentioned The Center for Jewish Nonviolence. He asked if the Center had incited violence, and I replied that, as its name suggests, it practices non-violence. My interrogator then replied that names could be misleading.
The session ended when my interrogator asked me, point blank, if I was planning to attend another protest. I answered truthfully: No. With that I was sent back to the holding room.
A few minutes later I was free. The whole experience took just over an hour.
Beinart writes that while “the conversation was depressing but not frightening,” he “never felt scared or victimized.”
Israel recently passed legislation allowing it to bar entry to activists involved in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. Beinart has written in support of boycotting Israeli settlements, but says that he wasn’t asked about that activism during the airport ordeal.
Responding to reports of Beinart’s ordeal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office released a statement saying the prime minister “heard of Mr. Beinart’s questioning at Ben Gurion airport and immediately spoke with Israel’s security forces to inquire how this happened. He was told it was an administrative mistake.”
“Israel is an open society which welcomes all–critics and supporters alike. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where people voice their opinions freely and robustly,” the statement adds.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.