AN EL AL Boeing 777 aircraft is seen at Ben-Gurion Airport.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The vice president of the New Israel Fund, Jennifer Gorovitz, was delayed and questioned at Ben-Gurion Airport upon her arrival to Israel this week, in what the NIF has called an “apparent act of political targeting by border security.”
Gorovitz, who serves as vice president for finance, operations, and administration at NIF and was previously CEO of the San Francisco Jewish Federation, arrived in Israel in order to participate in the annual meeting of NIF's international board in Jerusalem.
According to the organization, Gorowitz told border control officers that she is “a Jew and a Zionist,” and that she works for the NIF -- which provides funds to many left-wing Israeli NGOs -- to support the Israeli civil society sector.
Yet despite this, the officers scoffed and derided her for "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."
During an interrogation, Gorovitz said she saw the officer underscore "BDS" on her report sheet, but informed the officer that the NIF does not support the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement.
Gorovitz was asked to detail her familial lineage, including names and birth places of her parents and grandparents, and list “where in the field” she would be working during her visit.
She was released after approximately one hour and three separate interrogations and after pressure from several NIF-affiliated individuals, including NIF President of the Board and former Israeli State Attorney Talia Sasson.
Sasson was told that Gorovitz was being detained for "national security reasons."
"Jenn Gorovitz has dedicated her life to promoting the best of Israeli society," said Daniel Sokatch, CEO of the New Israel Fund. "She is precisely the kind of person Israel should be proud to host as a guest. This shows that the ultra right-wing government is shamelessly using a political litmus test to decide who can enter the country and who cannot. We will not accept an Israel that is for ultra-nationalists only."
Acting Director General of the Immigration Authority Amnon Shmueli spoke with NIF President Talia Sasson on Wednesday reiterating the Authority’s stance that it was a routine procedure, he went on to apologize for any distress the questioning may have caused Gorovitz.
In an earlier statement the Interior Ministry’s Population Immigration and Border Authority did not provide reasoning for stopping Gorovitz except to say that “the need arose to conduct a more professional questioning,” and that she was released after a “delay of less than one hour.”
“The procedure is a required professional procedure and there was no intention to cause distress to the passenger,” the statement said.
Sabine Haddad a spokeswoman for the Population Immigration and Border Authority told the Post that the NIF official was not asked about BDS affiliation and the topic was not mentioned during questioning.
Israel denied entrance to an NGO official due to alleged BDS support for the first time in December. At the time, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said he would use his authority to prevent the entrance of BDS activists to Israel.
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