Peter Beinart
Peter Beinart Flash 90

American left-wing Jewish activist Peter Beinart was detained at Ben Gurion Airport after he flew to Israel with his family.

Beinart and his family arrived in Israel last week to attend his niece's bat mitzvah.

A security official at passport control asked Beinart to accompany him to a side room where he was asked about the circumstances of the visit. He was asked whether he had acquaintances in Israel and whether he was involved in an organization that could provoke violence in Israel.

Beinart said that he was not involved in any such organization.

The official then asked about a protest Beinart had been involved in in Hevron during his last visit to Israel.

Beinart wrote about the incident in The Forward: "I don’t remember all the dialogue that followed but two things stand out. First, my interrogator never offered any legal basis for my detention. A recently passed law permits Israel to bar entry to people who advocate boycotts of Israel or Israeli settlements in the West Bank—and I have done the latter. But my interrogator never mentioned boycotts."

"The conversation was depressing but not frightening. I never felt scared or victimized. I’m a white American Jewish journalist with influential Israel and American Jewish friends. My situation wasn’t remotely comparable to the black, brown and non-Jewish visitors with whom I shared the holding room. I may not have felt protected by Israeli law but I felt entirely protected by my national, religious and class privilege," Beinart wrote.

Yael Patir, director of the Israeli office of the J Street lobby, criticized Beinart's detention. "The slippery slope is turning into a dark and dangerous abyss, when every foreign citizen who dares to criticize the Netanyahu government is liable to find himself questioned about his views.