Fiji: Israelis not welcome

08.08.06

It’s one of the most popular beach, sand and sun destinations for Australians, New Zealanders, and backpackers in general. But Fiji, where I spent a few hours on layover just a few months ago, is sending out a message: Israelis not welcome (via Meryl):

Three Israeli backpackers were evicted from Fiji after a Muslim immigration officer ruled that they had humiliated Palestinians during their military service in the territories.

The three – Amit Ronen, Eldar Avracohen, and Nimrod Lahav – left Israel in February for a tour in Australia.

In July they decided to spend a week in Fiji. On July 13 they arrived at Fiji airport where a surprise awaited them.

“We gave our passports to the officer, and when she saw we are Israelis she asked for ID cards. We told her we don’t understand why we need ID cards and she responded shouting: ‘You know very well how to ask Palestinians for IDs and humiliate them for three years.”

That’s what Avracohen wrote in a complaint letter he sent to Israel’s Ambassador to Australia Nati Tamir.

The three were held at Fiji airport for six hours and officials rebuked their pleas to be allowed to make a phone call.

Armed policemen took them to a cell at the airport where they spent the night before being sent back to Australia.

Catch that? A night in jail with no phone call, for having done absolutely nothing besides present a passport that happened to be from Israel.

There are a zillion Israeli backpackers in Australia right now. I ran into them in just about every hostel, on every bus, and in every tourist site imaginable. A fair number probably travel to Fiji on a regular basis. Fiji’s economy is largely tourism-based, and they depend on this business. I hope this story reaches the backpacker community far and wide, and that travellers of all stripes band together to refuse to go to Fiji until a suitable apology is issued. (Judging by the antisemitism too prevailant in the backpacker community, though, I wouldn’t hold my breath).

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ikram 08.08.06 at 8:12 PM

Fiji was the site of anti-Indian pogroms, and a military coup to dislodge a democratically elected indian-dominated government. If backpackers, including Israeli backpackers, don’t care about racist violence against indians, why would they worry about two Israeli young adults getting roughed-up by police.

For that matter, India was the site of vicious anti-Muslim pogroms in 2002, and Narendra Modi is still in power. Would you suggest that backpackers should avoid India? By these standards, most of the world would be off-limits.

(There’s such a thing as a “backpacker community”? What next — snowboarding community? Peanut-butter eating community?)

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2 Michael 08.08.06 at 10:01 PM

Ikram,

you seem to have missed the point. There is a backpacker community because there are so many people who travel and share many of the same experiences. The problem here is Muslim ignorance and hatred for humanity. It just makes me so angry that Israelis would be asked to leave a country for no reason other than anti-semitism.

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3 Ikram 08.09.06 at 2:41 PM

It just makes me so angry that Israelis would be asked to leave a country for no reason other than anti-semitism.

It also makes me mad. And it makes me angry that in 1987, 60,000 Indian Fijians had to leave their country for no other reason than a racist government. If I am outraged at backpackers for ignoring hatered of Israelis, should I also be outraged at backpackers (inclding the 2 Israelis) for ignoring anti-Indian racism?

It would be good if we could all expand our righteous outrage to include groups beyond our own. Narcissistic ethnic obsession is not an admirable trait.

The problem here is Muslim ignorance and hatred for humanity.

Hmm.

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4 laminar_flow 08.10.06 at 9:52 PM

I concur with Ikram.

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