Published: Tue, January 09, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

Israel releases new BDS blacklist, denying entry to members of 20 groups

Israel releases new BDS blacklist, denying entry to members of 20 groups

Bethlehem, occupied West Bank - Israel has published a list of 20 worldwide groups whose members will be barred from entering the country due to their support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. It follows up on a law passed past year that bars visits by non-citizens and non-residents who support the boycott or belong to organizations that do.

According to a statement by the Strategic Affairs Ministry, those who have carried out "significant, ongoing and consistent harm to Israel through advocating boycotts may be considered to have their entry barred".

Public Security and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan defended the Israeli crackdown in a Hebrew-language statement.

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.

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Rebecca Vilkomerson, who leads the group, said in an op-ed for Haaretz that she was "personally feeling the pain of exclusion for the first time from a place that I am bound to by deep ties".

CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin spoke out in response to the blacklist: "It's outrageous that Israel would ban human rights activists who support a Gandhi-like boycott campaign that has historically been the bedrock of nonviolent social change movements". Erdan told Hadashot news the list was an additional step in Israel's campaign against BDS. "Israel's desperate attempt to counter the BDS movement with this latest blacklist, along with the millions of dollars they are spending on internet trolling and propaganda campaigns, will not stop our principled support of equality and justice for the Palestinian people". The movement has, predictably, caused anxiety among Israelis. There are a few groups from South America and one from South Africa as well.

"The state of Israel will prevent groups working to undermine its security and core interests from entering Israel".

But activists said the new policy represented a "broader crackdown" on nonviolent Palestinian rights movements aimed at holding Israel accountable to global law.

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"We will work to thwart anti-Israel boycotts, while pursuing a lasting peace with our neighbors", he added.

The Entry to Israel Law (Amendment No. 27) (Denying a Visa and Residency Permit for Advocates of Boycotting Israel), "prevents foreign nationals or non-residents who have publicly expressed support for the BDS campaign from entering Israel".

BDS groups from around the world are included on the list as is the US-based organization, Jewish Voice for Peace, which is calling for an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.

"A new crack in the wall of the occupation", tweeted Ayman Odeh, an Arab member of Israel's Knesset. "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".

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