No Clowns in Ramallah!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 RebeldÃa” – 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.