No Clowns in Ramallah!

Prado: Extreme Leftist Clown. Literally.

Haaretz and the JTA reported that Spanish clown Ivan Prado had been deported from Israel late last month. He was planning on organizing a clown festival in Ramallah, but officials said he was turned back for unspecified security reasons. Prado is the director of the International Clown Festival in Galicia, although Haaretz’s depiction of him as “Spain’s most famous clown” may have been a tad generous. Since his deportation, Prado has, as per Haaretz, “…launched a media campaign denouncing Israel and comparing the situation of Palestinians in the West Bank with Jews in Poland.”

The thing is though, that had Prado not been deported, he would in all likelihood have condemned Israel anyways. This was not Prado’s first trip to Israel and the West Bank. He was here in 2002 and 2009 and described the situation in the territories as a “new Holocaust” and the Jews, yes specifically the Jews, as perpetrators of Genocide. This is not unusual given that Prado runs “Pallasos en Rebeldía” – Clowns in Revolt? Revolting Clowns? Sorry my Galician is a little rusty… in any case, this group puts on the annual Festiclown and is notable for their far left political leanings and anti-Spanish, pro-Galician nationalist sentiment. Prado is not just some clown, he is an admitted enemy of Israel and a savvy political operative.

That having been said, he was still allowed into Israel on prior trips. Being critical, even extremely critical of Israel is no bar to entry to the country and that’s the way it ought to be. I think Israel can handle diversity of opinion. However, this time around he was denied entry and I have to trust the security officials who made that decision. Chances are that Prado did not really pose any serious security threat. However, something set the security people at Ben Gurion airport off and given Prado’s enmity towards Israel, he was probably less than forthcoming when detained. And that’s what happens when you do not cooperate with security officials at any airport anywhere in the world – you get denied entry and you get sent home. Entry to a foreign country is a privilege, not a right and security people usually like to err on the side of caution.

The result of the deportation has not been that bad for Prado. The press has parroted Haaretz’s erroneous description of him as Spain’s most famous clown and now if you Google “Spain’s most famous clown” Prado’s name is all that appears. Furthermore, had he been allowed in to Israel, his anti-Israel sentiment would have been limited to his usual cadre of supporters. Now he is benefiting from international outrage at the fate of a simple clown who just wanted to bring laughter to the poor oppressed people of Palestine. Getting deported from Israel was the best thing that ever happened to Prado.

About the author


Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.


  • did you consider the possibility that nothing changed with Pedro the clown, but it is Israel that now views criticism as a threat to national security? personally I don’t like clowns very much, but don’t trust unexplained and obscure “security reasons” as well.

    and there is another point here: how can we go on claiming that Israel doesn’t run Palestinians’ lives (i.e., that it’s not Apartheid) when we, among other things, get to decide who enters and who leaves the PA territory?

    • Running security checks and preventing people perceived to be risks is not apartheid. Running people’s lives, as you put it, is also not apartheid. Besides, if you keep talking like that, you’ll hurt Fayyad’s feelings. The guy is adamant that they’re almost ready to announce a state. Pretty bad apartheid regime the Israelis are running, if the leader of their victims runs around announcing a state whenever he feels like it.

  • Noam, as far as I can tell, the vast, vast, overwhelming majority of people critical of Israel attempting to enter Israel, continue to be permitted entry. As for the security concerns used to justify Prado’s expulsion, based on my first sentence, I have to assume they are valid given the context. Any country can prevent any foreigner from entering its borders for any reason and I suspect Prado was being vague or contradictory in his responses to the security agents’ questions. By the way, do you agree with Prado’s description of the Palestinians’ situation as being the same as that of the Jews in Poland in WWII? Not that that justifies his expulsion but it ought to be clear that that is who folks are defending when they criticize Israel’s actions.

    As for Israel’s control of the West Bank, until there is a final disposition based on a comprehensive peace treaty and cessation of violence, it’s Israel’s responsibility under international law to secure the area under its control. That’s not Apartheid Noam. Sorry.

  • Entry to a foreign country is a privilege, not a right and security people usually like to err on the side of caution.

    And if that is the case with “just visiting,” just imagine how much more that is the case when it comes to immigration.

    Hi, HIAS!

  • funny how haaretz didnt report on his previous visits to israel, his anti israel stance and his use of the clown convention to propogate his political view

    i dont remember any clowns voicing their opinions on world politics when i used to go to the circus….what a world

  • Thanks David for the info, but we already reported on his extremist political leanings and idiotic, clown-like opinions. We’re a democracy and we ought to be able to handle a diversity of opinions but guys like Prado abuse these privileges. He was coming in to rile up his audience, to accuse Israel of Genocide and compare her to Nazis. I mean whenever I come across Nazis all I want to do is smash their faces in, thus using the term Nazis is meant to provoke a response. We’re better off without him but clearly, he benefited tremendously from getting denied entry into Israel. Oh well.

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