Israel Takes Offense in Battle Against BDS

Israel Takes Offense in Battle Against BDS

The list is part of Israel's efforts against a grassroots movement known as BDS, which calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel over its policies toward the Palestinians. The blacklist announced Sunday, which follows from that measure, identifies groups that are waging "a false propaganda campaign" and "undermining Israel's legitimacy in the world", the Interior Ministry said.

The Israeli government on Sunday identified 20 worldwide organizations it says promote a boycott of Israel, and said the Interior Ministry will work to block members of those groups from entering the country.

Israel's newly-published "blacklist" of NGOs whose activists are barred from entry is reminiscent of Apartheid South Africa, a legal rights group has declared.

"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 global programs.

But it is not only Palestinians who are protesting; among the Israelis who support BDS are musicians Aviad Albert and Yoav Beirach. Between 2010-2013 then Strategic Affairs Ministry Director General Yossi Kuperwasser developed an action plan on how to counter BDS. "The boycott organizations need to know that the state of Israel will act against them and will not allow them to enter its territory in order to harm its citizens".

"The anti-Israel boycott campaign seeks not to promote peace but to undermine Israel's national security and existence", Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said in a statement.

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Free speech advocates slammed the law as a form of "thought control", and note that Israel already controls who enters the Palestinian territories, with the exception of one border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

The NGOs on the banned list include the Paris-based Association France Palestine Solidarite, British charity War on Want, and the American Friends Service Committee - a Nobel Peace Prize-winning US Quaker organization. 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.

"Israel's decision to specifically ban JVP is disconcerting but not surprising, given the further erosion of democratic norms and rising anxiety about the power of BDS as a tool to demand freedom", Jewish Voice for Peace wrote on Facebook in response to the decision.

According to reports previous year, Hugh Lanning of PSC became the first British citizen to be refused entry to Israel under the law.

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.

"It really shows how vague this idea of BDS is".

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