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‘Racial discrimination’ against Pro-Palestinian costs Air France

Press TV – April 5, 2013

A court in France has fined French flag carrier Air France 10,000 euros ($12,800) for removing a pro-Palestine activist from a Tel Aviv-bound flight because the passenger was a ‘non-Jew.’

On Thursday, the court found Air France guilty of a ‘clear-cut case of racial discrimination’ against Horia Ankour, who had intended to travel to Israel in April 2012 to attend the Welcome to Palestine protest.

On the plane, an airline employee asked the 30-year-old nursing student whether she had an Israeli passport or was Jewish. After answering no to the questions she was escorted off the aircraft.

The court has also ruled that Air France pay Ankour some 3,000 euros in damages and to cover her legal fees.

Meanwhile, the French airline has stated that the activist’s name was on a list of ‘undesirables’ provided by the Israeli regime. Air France said it would appeal.

During the fly-in protest, which was called by the media the ‘flytilla’ campaign, hundreds of pro-Palestine activists from across the globe tried to fly to Israel in an effort to travel to the occupied West Bank.

However, several activists were prohibited from boarding Israel-bound flights because their names were on the blacklist that the Israeli regime had given to a number of European airlines.

The campaign was not the first ‘flytilla’ that planned a trip to the occupied Palestinian territories.

In July 2011, Israeli authorities made intense efforts to interrupt the first ‘flytilla’ and arrested a number of activists. About 120 people were also denied entry and deported. In addition, several European countries prevented activists from boarding their flights as the Tel Aviv regime had already blacklisted them.

April 5, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | Comments Off on ‘Racial discrimination’ against Pro-Palestinian costs Air France

Air France accused of racism after banning non-Jew from flight

Al Akhbar | April 17, 2012

French activists participating in the Welcome to Palestine campaign over the weekend accused Air France of racism on Tuesday after the airline asked passengers if they were Jewish as part of a strategy to prevent the activists from boarding.

“The racism of Israel and Air France was brought in plain light on Sunday…It was proven that one had to declare themselves Jewish or holder of an Israeli passport to have the right to travel,” the French contingent of Welcome to Palestine 2012 said in a press release on their website.

The activists noted the case of a passenger named as Horia, who had successfully boarded the plane, but was then asked by an air hostess whether she was Jewish before the flight had taken off.

An Air France employee signed Horia’s response on an official document (see below), and was then allegedly told by Air France personnel that she was prohibited to travel to Tel Aviv, according to activists.

Coordinator for the French chapter of Welcome to Palestine 2012, Maximilien Shahshahani, told Al-Akhbar that Air France was colluding with Israel’s secret service, Shin Bet, in determining which activists were not permitted to board Sunday’s flight to Tel Aviv.

“Shin Bit shared a blacklist of names with Air France, but told the airline to double check [others not blacklisted] with a series of questions,” he said.

The questions were also asked of other passengers, Shahshahani said, who were not participating in the Welcome to Palestine campaign.

“We saw another passenger, to which the same questions were asked. The response to the second question was that they were Jewish. The passenger was extremely shocked by the nature of the questions,” he said.

Air France in a statement issued on its website said Israeli authorities demanded that the airline question one of the passengers, without detailing what kind of questions were asked.

“The Israeli authorities requested that one of the passengers be questioned. The answers did not satisfy the Israeli authorities, the passenger had to disembark the flight at their demand,” Air France said.

Hundreds of activists, mostly from Europe, were due to fly into Tel Aviv international airport on Sunday as part of a global campaign to raise awareness of the restriction of movement and travel for Palestinians brought by Israel’s military occupation.

But, as in 2011, Israel threatened airlines that they faced sanctions if they did not prevent activists from boarding their flights, providing them with a list of names.

“You are ordered not to board them [activists] on your flights to Israel. Failure to comply with this directive will result in sanctions against the airlines,” a stern statement from Israel’s Ministry of Interior to airlines, obtained by activists, read.

Dozens still managed to board flights to Israel, with the official website for the French contingent of Welcome to Palestine saying that 40 French activists were detained upon arrival.

Preparations for legal proceedings against Air France are underway, Shahshahani said.

Welcome to Palestine has become an annual campaign, which is part of a growing international movement to highlight the continued suffering of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and Israel’s apartheid policies.

An alleged Air France document showing questions asked of a passenger boarding a flight to Israel on Sunday 15 April 2012. (Photo: Handout – Welcome to Palestine 2012)

April 17, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | 3 Comments

‘Flytilla’ for Palestine hit by arrests as Israel clamps down

Al Akhbar | April 15, 2012

Dozens of activists were detained as they flew into Israel on Sunday, as part of a protest to highlight the continued oppression of Palestinians.

Hundreds more were prevented from flying by airlines working in conjunction with the Jewish state, being stopped while boarding in countries including Britain, France, Switzerland and Turkey.

Reports on Sunday morning also said right-wing Jewish settler groups had appeared at airports in a counter protest, sparking fears of confrontation.

Over a thousand people had bought tickets to fly to Israel as part of Welcome to Palestine 2012’s ‘Flytilla’ campaign, according to event organizers.

However it appeared on Sunday morning that the majority had been prevented from boarding, with others arrested on arrival in Ben Gurion airport.

Activists condemned international airlines and countries for preventing them from boarding, with many threatening to take legal action over the cancelled flights.

Particular fury was vented at Turkey, which worked in conjunction with Israel to prevent activists boarding flights despite claiming to support the Palestinian struggle.

Spokesman for the event Diana Alzeer said three people had reached the country and travelled to Bethlehem.

Event organizers said the protest aimed to show how Palestine had become a “prison.”

“There is no way into Palestine other than through Israeli control points. Israel has turned Palestine into a giant prison, but prisoners have a right to receive visitors,” the Palestine Justice Network said.

“Welcome to Palestine 2012 will again challenge Israel’s policy of isolating the West Bank while the settler paramilitaries and army commit brutal crimes against a virtually defenceless Palestinian civilian population.”

Israel continues to deny Palestinians equal rights and restricts their freedom of movement.

The country maintains a siege of Gaza and continues to occupy the West Bank while encouraging the rapid development of Jewish-only settlements, which have been declared illegal by the UN.

April 15, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Bethlehem mayor to Israel: Allow our friends to visit

Ma’an – 12/04/2012

BETHLEHEM – The mayor of Bethlehem on Tuesday urged Israel not to humiliate hundreds of tourists invited to a week-long tour of Palestine.

Some 25 Palestinian organizations have invited internationals to visit Palestine from April 15 – 21 and Mayor Victor Batarseh urged Israel to let them enter and not to humiliate them, at a news conference in Bethlehem.

“We demand our international friends have access to Bethlehem,” the mayor said. “It is our right to welcome visitors.”

Israel’s public security minister, Yitzhak Aharonovitch, said Tuesday that guests of the Welcome to Palestine initiative would be detained and deported, the Israeli news site Ynet reported.

“If they arrive in Israel they will be identified, removed from the plane, their entry into Israel will be prevented and they will be moved to a detention facility until they are flown out of Israel,” Aharonovitch said.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Ma’an on Wednesday that police were preparing for the visitors’ arrival and implementing measures inside and outside the airport. He did not elaborate.

Palestinian organizations have arranged a week-long program, starting Sunday, which includes helping to build a school in Bethlehem and day trips to Hebron, the Jordan Valley, Ramallah and Jerusalem.

All visitors to the West Bank must first pass Israeli border control and many arriving in Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport do not tell Israeli security if they will be visiting Palestinian areas as this leads to interrogation and often deportation.

But the “Welcome to Palestine” campaign has asked its guests to be open about their plans to visit the West Bank.

Coordinator Abdul-Fatah Abu Srour told reporters in Bethlehem the participants are declaring their right to say they are coming to Palestine and “we are not hiding it, we are not going to lie about it.”

Organizer Mazim Qumsiyeh added: “We cannot understand why Israel wants people to lie about why they are coming.”

Qumsiyeh emphasized that the visitors were “normal average Europeans willing to visit people under occupation.”

“These are peaceful people that want to visit us here in Bethlehem and the Holy Land,” he added.

At least 1,500 people from over 15 countries have booked tickets to participate in the program, organizers say, adding that up to 2,000 could arrive. Most are flying in from Europe but visitors are also coming from Australia, New Zealand, the US and Canada.

The Welcome to Palestine campaign organized a similar program in July 2011 but Israel sent lists of participants to foreign airports who refused to let blacklisted passengers board. Over 120 participants who arrived in Ben Gurion airport were detained and deported by Israel.

Minister Aharonovitch told Israel’s Channel 1 on Wednesday that Israel would send blacklists to foreign airports again this week.

But Qumsiyeh said airlines had agreed not to cooperate with Israel’s blacklists after facing legal challenges over their refusal to let passengers board last year.

Another Welcome to Palestine organizer told reporters the initiative sent a message to European governments that Israel was “dismissing” their citizens’ freedoms.

Israel violates bilateral agreements by deporting Europeans, she said, noting that European countries allowed Israelis to enter freely.

“We reject all attempts to isolate us,” Abu Srour added

April 12, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment