Israel’s quest to undermine the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) has prompted the nation to blacklist a group that has long stood for victims of violence, including Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany.
The Quaker group American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is one of the 20 organizations listed by Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry as groups that have been barred from entering the country. The list, which was released Sunday, contains groups, such as the AFSC, that support BDS. Therefore, anyone with ties to these groups will no longer be allowed to travel to Israel.
“The state of Israel will actively prevent such groups from spreading their falsehoods and odious methods from within the country,” Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said, apparently insinuating that the peaceful group that helped victims of Nazism spreads “odious” ideas.
According to Erdan, this move is yet “another step in [Israel’s] work to thwart anti-Israel boycott organizations.”
AFSC received a Nobel Peace Prize in 1947 for its support and help of refugees coming from Nazi Germany during World War II. Unfortunately, the Israeli government is not willing to see beyond its contempt for a peaceful movement, such as BDS, even when the group in question did so much to help their own during one of the most horrific periods of world history.
According to the AFSC website, its support for BDS is part of its stance against Israeli occupation.
Pushing for “a just and lasting peace” in the region, the group clarifies that support for a boycott is only meant as a way of targeting companies that support methods that violate human rights.
“In the context of Israel and Palestine AFSC supports the the use of boycott and divestment campaigns targeting only companies that support the occupation, settlements, militarism, or any other violations of international humanitarian or human rights law,” the website states.
To Jeff Halper, the head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, adding the Quaker organization to its list of blacklisted groups proves just how misguided the Israeli government is.
“It really shows how vague this idea of BDS is. BDS has become a synonym for anyone critical of Israel,” Halper told Haaretz.
After the ban, AFSC defended its position and said that it will not waiver its support for BDS.
It’s quite telling that Israel is willing to ignore a group’s history of support for the Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany.
It’s almost as if the Israeli government is making clear that it does not care for a peaceful solution by standing in opposition of the most peaceful of protests there are: the consumer-backed boycott of services and products provided by those who support violence and military intervention.