Israel announces travel ban on pro-Palestinian boycott advocates

Israel announces travel ban on pro-Palestinian boycott advocates

Israel on Sunday published a list of organizations whose members are henceforth banned from entering the country due to their support of the BDS movement, which calls for boycotting and imposing sanctions on Israel.

The blacklist follows up on a controversial law enacted by Israel previous year which bans any activist who "knowingly issues a public call for boycotting" the country.

Among the 20 groups, 11 are from Europe, six from the United States, one from Latin America, one from South Africa, and one is an global umbrella organization.

"We answered the call for divestment from apartheid South Africa and we have done the same with the call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions from Palestinians who have faced decades of human rights violations", said Kerri Kennedy, an AFSC official responsible for worldwide programs.

According to the Strategic Affairs Ministry, the regulation does not include those who express political criticism of Israel but only those who have taken significant, ongoing, consistent "material action" to harm Israel through advocating boycotts.

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Israel's Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, said the country has "shifted from defense to offense" by publishing the list. "No country would have allowed critics coming to harm the country to enter it".

Gary Spedding, a British and a member of the Alliance Party's youth wing, who was refused entry by Israel in 2014 noted that the list was "merely an excuse to legally justify barring activists and human rights observers" from reporting the ground realities.

This has fueled a lot of opposition backlash, with many waring that it's just going to further distance those NGOs from the situation inside Israel and make changing their minds harder. Supporters say the BDS movement uses peaceful means to pressure the Israeli government, but Jerusalem sees it as a strategic threat motivated by anti-Semitic animus against the Jewish state.

Israeli Interior Minister Arye Dery, who is responsible for implementing the list, slammed these groups for "trying to exploit the law and our hospitality to act against Israel and to defame the country". The following organisations from the United States also fall on the list- AFSC (American Friends Service Committee), AMP (American Muslims for Palestine), Code Pink, JVP (Jewish Voice for Peace), NSJP (National Students for Justice in Palestine), USCPR (US Campaign for Palestinian Rights) and BNC (BDS National Committee).

Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), said Israel's act was "disconcerting but not surprising". A message from Vaknin-Gil confirmed, "Dan Diker and the JCPA provided unbelievable research on the BDS, anti-normalization and delegitimization phenomena that really needed to be done to ensure that this global campaign can be contained".

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