Not only Palestinians but also anyone standing up for the rights of the Palestinians will be silenced! Israel has come up with a ‘ban list’ banning activists of twenty organisations from entering the country because of their support to the Palestinian cause.
The ‘BDS ban list’ includes prominent organisations like Jewish Voice for Peace, War on Want and Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) which have been supporting the global Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanction (BDS) movement. The members of the banned organisations will be denied entry visas and residency rights under a controversial law.
The grassroots level BDS movement is aimed at putting pressure over governments and corporations across the world to end their ‘relationship’ with Israeli government and companies responsible for the brutal occupation and apartheid in Palestine.
The list has been prepared by Israel’s rightwing Strategic Affairs and Public security Minister Gilad Erdan. His strategic affairs ministry has a budget of around $36 million to make counter-plan to tackle the BDS movement.
Calling the move a shift from defence to offence, Erdan said, “The boycott organisations need to know that the state of Israel will act against them and not allow them to enter its territory to harm its citizens. No country would have allowed critics coming to harm the country to enter it.”
Human rights groups and activists consider such attempts by Israel as an attack on free speech and curbing any criticism of its apartheid policy towards Palestinians.
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.
“Israel’s publishing of a ‘BDS blacklist’ is the latest example of just how fragile the regime actually is and demonstrates a hypersensitivity to legitimate criticisms made of the state’s actions and policies vis-a-vis the Palestinians,” said Spedding.
Arye Dery, heading the Interior Ministry who will be responsible for implementing the list, said: “These people are trying to exploit the law and our hospitality to act against Israel and to defame the country. I will act against this by every means.”
According to Israel's Ministry of strategic Affairs, the banned groups from Europe are- AFPS (The Association France Palestine Solidarite), BDS France, BDS Italy, ECCP (The European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine), FOA (Friends of Al Aqsa), IPSC (Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign), Norge Palestinakomitee (The Palestine Committee of Norway), Palestinagrupperna i Sverige (PGS- Palestine Solidarity Association in Sweden), PSC (Palestine Solidarity Campaign), War on Want and BDS Kampagne. 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). Meanwhile, BDS Chile from Latin America and BDS South Africa from Africa are also mentioned in the list.
Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), said Israel's act was "disconcerting but not surprising". "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.”
According to reports last year, Hugh Lanning of PSC became the first British citizen to be refused entry to Israel under the law. In June 2016, the PSC along with War on Want brought a legal case against the British Government concerning guidance, which restricted local councils from pursuing BDS against Israel through their pension schemes.
They argued that the people had ‘a right to decide not to profit from human rights abuses’ and the High Court noted that government acted illegally by seeking to restrict “ethical” boycotts of Israel.
Shamiul Joarder, head of public affairs at Friends of Al Aqsa (FOA), said the list was proof that ‘BDS is working’. "Israel sees this as a deterrent, but I think that people will be even more dedicated to the cause.”