Jennifer Gorovitz
Jennifer Gorovitz

Israel apologizes for detaining Jennifer Gorovitz at Ben Gurion Airport

One day after New Israel Fund vice president Jennifer Gorovitz was detained upon arriving at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport, Israeli government officials have apologized for the incident.

As reported in Haaretz and the Times of Israel, interim director general of the Population and Immigration Authority Amnon Shmueli apologized on Feb. 9 to New Israel Fund president Talia Sasson for holding Gorovitz for 90 minutes of questioning after she arrived in the country to attend a NIF executive committee meeting.

Gorovitz, who formerly served as CEO of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation, told Israeli media she had been sequestered and asked about NIF activities, including its funding of Israeli NGOs.

The New Israel Fund supports civil society nonprofits in Israel working to aid women, the poor, minorities, Israeli Arabs and Palestinians. It often comes under criticism for leaning to the political left, just as NIF officials harshly criticize the right-leaning government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Andy David, who serves as Israel’s S.F.-based Consul General to the Pacific Northwest, told J. that Israeli officials had contacted him to obtain Gorovitz’s phone number in order to speak with her directly.

Dismissing the notion that the questioning of Gorovitz was part of a government crackdown on NIF officials, David noted that Israel admits without incident thousands of visitors every week, many of whom quite possibly share NIF’s political views.

“Daniel Sokatch entered for the same meeting as Jennifer, and he’s the [NIF] director,” he said. (Sokatch was not detained.)

Sokatch told J. on Feb. 8 that he wasn’t sure whether Gorovitz’s detainment was “the beginning of a coordinated campaign from high above.”

Referring to Gorovitz’s experience, David said, “There is no policy in place, of course. This was a mistake made by the inspector or agent there. What he did was refer her to further questioning. That takes some time. Once she was questioned they found out there was nothing there and she was released. For that the authorities already apologized.”

David also noted that high-ranking officials from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Interior and Internal Security would soon meet “in order to make sure to tighten [airport] instructions and to better identify potential loopholes, in order to prevent any mistakes in the future. We take it seriously.”

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Dan Pine

Dan Pine is J.'s news editor. He can be reached at dan@jweekly.com.