Pro-BDS IfNotNow founder detained by Israel at border with Egypt

Simone Zimmerman, a vocal pro-BDS activist, was questioned about her ties to the Palestinians. 

By: World Israel News Staff

Simone Zimmerman, an outspoken critic of Israel and a one-time Jewish outreach coordinator on the presidential campaign of Democratic primary candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, was detained on Sunday by Israeli authorities when she attempted to enter Israel.

She was returning through the Taba border crossing after a weekend in Sinai when Israeli authorities detained her and her friend Abby Kirschbaum for four hours.

Zimmerman said she was questioned “solely about our political opinions and activities vis a vis the Palestinians, especially in the occupied territories.”

She currently resides in Israel on a work visa and is employed by an Israeli human rights organization.

Zimmerman is a founding member of IfNotNow, a movement that seeks to end American Jewry’s support for a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria.

“Why did you come here to work with Palestinians? Why not with Jews?” was one of the first things they asked me,” she tweeted.

She called the questioning an “attempted intimidation centering on our connections to Palestinians.”

Jews ‘hold a ton of privilege’

“The scariest part of this wasn’t the fear that they would deport us, to be honest. We had teams of people making calls and advocating for us, ready to raise hell. The truth is that for Jews in the Jewish state, we still hold a ton of privilege,” she tweeted after the incident. “All of the questions they asked me were about if I go to Palestinian areas, what do I do/ who do I meet there, why I go there… and why the hell would I want to do that.”

She also said that at one point “one [of them] asked why I work to help people in Gaza, and I said I believe that for all people to be truly safe and have hope here, people in Gaza need to have rights too, and she [the questioning official] straight up cut me off and said: I don’t want to hear idealism. I want to know why you’re really here.”

She claimed that the implication of this incident is “that believing in true freedom and liberation for all Israelis and Palestinians is nothing more than a load of BS. Not real, not possible, and certainly not logical in any way. Rights for Palestinians can only mean death for Jews. Period.”

“The scariest part is the horrifying realization of how badly the Israeli government wants to scare Jews away from Palestinians. They are using all tactics to make the cost of knowing & working with Palestinians too risky that we don’t dare to do it at all,” she concluded.

Times of Israel reported that the Population and Immigration Authority said the two women were held by the Shin Bet (Israel’s Security Agency), which refused to comment on the matter.

Inciting local Arabs to violence

Dozens of organizations, operating under various covers, operate in Israel to collect information related to the BDS movement that is used against Israel. The activists and anarchists also arrive in Judea and Samaria and incite the local Arabs to act violently against the IDF.

Zimmerman was active in the self-described “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobby J Street and the “Open Hillel” movement—both of which have been criticized in the Jewish community for ignoring Israeli grievances in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and whitewashing Palestinian terrorism.

Zimmerman is also been involved with IfNotNow, a new movement of young American Jews who oppose Israeli control in Judea and Samaria.

In a February 2016 op-ed for Ha’aretz, Zimmerman outlined her views on Israel, including her perceptions on what she called “grave injustices committed by the Jewish state” and the “disastrous reality of holding millions of Palestinians under military occupation.”

‘Anti-Zionism is not racism’

“Tell the UC Regents: anti-Zionism is not racism, it’s a political belief,” Zimmerman retweeted from the Twitter account of the anti-Israel group Jewish Voice for Peace in March 2016 reacting to the University of California Board of Regents’ adoption of a report that condemned both anti-Semitism and forms of anti-Zionism that are anti-Semitic.

Zimmerman cursed Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a Facebook post in 2015,  accusing him of war crimes.

“Bibi Netanyahu is an arrogant, deceptive, cynical, manipulative a–hole,” Zimmerman, who is Jewish, wrote on March 3, 2015. “F–k you, Bibi … you sanctioned the murder of over 2,000 people this summer.”

Zimmerman also accused Netanyahu of “consistent fear mongering [and] for pushing Israel, in word and deed, farther and farther away from the international community.” She added that “a brutal military occupation of millions more continues under your watch.”

Zimmerman later edited the post by switching “a–hole” to “politician” and “F–k you” to “shame on you.”

Sanders was later forced to suspend her over her anti-Israel diatribe.

JNS contributed to this report.