No, Israel Isn’t Turning into a Police State—but the Shin Bet Shouldn’t Be Interrogating Journalists at Airports

Last week, the American journalist Peter Beinart—a relentless left-wing critic of the Jewish state and a supporter of boycotts of the settlements—wrote a story for the Forward recounting his extensive questioning by Israeli police upon his arrival at Ben-Gurion airport. He asserted that, based on the questions he was asked, he was being harassed because of his political beliefs. While no admirer of Beinart’s politics, Ben-Dror Yemini believes something is amiss with the Shin Bet, the Israeli agency that oversees internal security matters:

[It] is a state’s right to deny entry to those who reject its right to exist. Any civilized nation has a list of undesirables, and Israel’s lists are not much different from those of Britain or the U.S. But something has changed. Someone has [become] trigger-happy. Now it’s the “questioning” of Peter Beinart, which follows other unnecessary questioning of “suspects” whom there was no reason to suspect of anything. Not everyone who wrote an article against Israel or against one policy or another of the Israeli government needs to be questioned. And if that were the case, then 80 percent of academics, NGO members, and journalists . . . would have to be detained and questioned.

[It would therefore seem] that in recent months, someone at the Shin Bet has decided to act in the service of Israel’s vilifiers and provide proof to those who claim Israel has stopped being a democracy. . . .

These detainments, [however], don’t point to an Israel deteriorating and turning into a police state, or to the end of democracy. They point to the loss of discretion and to a severe level of stupidity, and that is no less grave. . . . [E]verything Beinart and his ilk have to say, they say in writing. They don’t belong to any underground movement. . . . We don’t have to wait for it to happen to know that every detainment like this is on the one hand a propaganda gift to Israel’s haters, and on the other hand useless. . . .

The Shin Bet needs a political [director] who understands the global left-wing map. Someone who could differentiate between activists of the campaign to eliminate Israel—who should be denied entry—and journalists or [run-of-the-mill] left-wing activists who have a right to criticize Israel, call for a boycott on settlement products, and even curse the Israeli government without being detained as they enter or leave the country.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Peter Beinart, Shin Bet

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy