Israel Includes Jewish Voice for Peace on a BDS Ban List for Supporting Palestinian Human Rights

Strategic Affairs Ministry, which is compiling the list, names 19 other organizations whose members will be barred from entering the country.

Yesterday Israel announced that it is compiling a blacklist of organizations whose members will not be allowed to enter Israel due to their support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel. The announcement initially had Jewish Voice for Peace as the only organization specifically named. Rebecca Vilkomerson responded with this op-ed.

Rebecca Vilkomerson, Jewish Voice for Peace Executive Director:

“Israel’s decision to specifically ban JVP leaders from entry is disconcerting but not surprising, given the further erosion of democratic norms as well as rising anxiety about the power of BDS as a tool to demand freedom. JVP members are now joining Palestinians as well as Muslims from around the world, people of color and other activists who are often barred from entry.

Our JVP members have no doubt about the justice of fighting for equality and freedom for all people in Israel/Palestine, and the legitimacy of BDS to bring that closer. We will not be bullied by these attempts to punish us for a principled political stance that increasing numbers of Jews and non-jews support worldwide.

As someone with considerable family in Israel, this policy will be a personal hardship. But I am also heartened by this indicator of the BDS movement’s growing strength, and hope that it will bring the day closer when just as I go to visit my friends and family in Israel, so will Palestinian friends and colleagues be able to return home.”

The Israeli Knesset (parliament) had previously passed a bill in March, 2017 banning entry to those who support boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel until Palestinians have full equal rights. This blacklist announcement is an escalation of that action. Now simply being a member of a nonprofit group on their list, which endorses BDS, can be cause for Israel to deny entry.

The BDS travel ban is part of a broader crackdown on support for these nonviolent tactics to hold Israel accountable to international law. The United States Congress is currently considering the draconian Israel Anti-Boycott Bill that would penalize people and companies that boycott business with Israel or Israeli settlements with penalties of up to 20 years in jail and $1 million in fines.

This announcement comes at a time when Israel is facing greater scrutiny for its brutal military occupation. The pop superstar, Lorde canceled her Tel Aviv concert after BDS supporters and fans of hers asked her not to go. It is also a time of heightened violence in the region, after Trump announced that the U.S. would move its embassy to Jerusalem, and when well-known Palestinian activists like Ahed Tamimi and her mother Nariman Tamimi are being held in military detention for barring soldiers from their home and posting on social media.

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