It's been just a couple of days after Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) activists and others were barred from flying to Israel over their support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Now, the Israeli government is letting us know just what it takes for you to be barred from entering the country.
According to Israel's Interior Ministry, Israeli officials consider four criteria when choosing who they should keep from entering the country as support for Palestinians alone isn't why JVP activists were denied entry.
In a joint statement, Interior Minister Arye Dery and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan called the five men and women who were kept from entering Israel early this week “prominent activists.” They also said they were coming to Israel “as part of a delegation of extremist boycott organizations whose entire purpose is to harm Israel.” However, that couldn't be further from the truth.
Instead, JVP's statement claimed interfaith leaders were on their way to the country to witness co-existence as well as hear about how Palestinians have been living from people on the ground.
Regardless of their intentions, Erdan said, the “rules of the game have changed,” and those supporting boycotts that may harm “national security” won't be tolerated.
To advocates who seek a peaceful solution to the Israel-Palestine problem, resorting to one of the most harmless forms of protests known as boycotts may now keep them from having access to Israel. As a result, they will also be kept from having access to Palestinians living in the territories under Israeli occupation.
The Interior Ministry is now claiming that, while being part of an organization that is “anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian, or has an agenda that is critical of Israeli government policy” alone isn't enough to keep you from being able to enter the country, travelers who meet at least one of four main criteria will be barred from visiting Israel.
If the traveler holds a senior-level position in, or operates on behalf of a pro-BDS organization; or if he or she is a prominent BDS activist; or if he or she holds a position, such as mayor and is openly pro-BDS, then they will not be granted permission to enter.
In other words, Israeli officials said that anyone who supports boycott “actively, consistently and continuously” will be targeted.
To them, that does not amount to censorship of people critical of Israeli policy. Instead, they claim, pro-boycott groups are acting against Israel's national security.
Despite the rhetoric, Israeli officials always fail to explain how peacefully promoting the idea of boycotting organizations that support Israel's Palestinian policies harms national security in any way.
Something tells us they will continue to avoid explaining their reasoning as anyone can tell you that a boycott is the most peaceful way to actively protest a government or organization without harming anyone in the process.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/Ronen Zvulun