Israel, you have a PR problem (hint; you can’t give up oppressing Arabs)

And these wonderfully inventive stunts will only increase:

Israel is being confronted by what observers call an increasingly formidable form of pro-Palestinian activism – foreign nationals staging non-violent publicity stunts.

Israel’s reaction to these international incidents, critics said, have played into the hands of activists, who blitzed news organisations to cover their protests.

The latest protest, organised through social-networking websites and e-mails, featured American and European activists planning to fly to Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport during the weekend and declare their intention to visit “Palestine”.

Israel responded by deploying hundreds of security personnel to the airport to help deport arriving activists and pressuring European carriers to hand over passenger manifests and prevent suspected activists from flying into the country.

The activists’ plans were quashed, with more than 120 detained at the airport and many more denied boarding their Tel Aviv-bound flights.

Those held at the airport would be deported within the next “24 to 48 hours”, a police spokesman said last night.

Only weeks earlier, Israel faced another news frenzy surrounding hundreds of foreign activists who tried, and eventually failed, to sail into the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip from Greece. The participants were branded by Israel’s military as radicals possibly carrying lethal chemical agents on their ships.

Flotilla organisers, calling themselves peaceful, replied with headline-grabbing accusations that Israel had sabotaged their boats.

Writing in Israel’s Yediot Ahronot daily last week, Haim Zisovitch, the head of the communication unit at Bar Ilan University’s School of Communication, compared Israel’s response to a wayward “child who was late to come home at night, and in order not to alert his sleeping parents used drums and trumpets to cover up the sound of his steps”.