Israel Takes Offense in Battle Against BDS

The United Nations Security Council chamber in New York City

The United Nations Security Council chamber in New York City

The BDS campaign encourages people to boycott Israel, urges universities and other organizations to divest from the country, and calls for worldwide sanctions until Tel Aviv complies with global law with respect to Palestinians and withdraws from Palestinian land.

Responding to news of the blacklist, Gary Spedding, a British cross-party consultant on Israel and the Palestinian Territories, told The Independent the blacklist was merely an excuse to legally justify barring activists and human rights observers from entering the country. "No country would allow visitors who come to harm the country to enter it, and certainly when the goal is to destroy Israel as a Jewish state".

The Ministry of Strategic Affairs published the list after deciding together with the Ministry of Interior back in back in March, 2017 that entry to Israel would be denied to individuals associated with the listed organizations.

"We have moved from defence to attack".

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One such organization included in the list is the American Friends Service Committee, an organization honored with a Nobel Peace Prize in 1947 for its assistance in aid for victims of Nazis.

The blacklist follows up on a controversial law enacted by Israel a year ago which bans any activist who "knowingly issues a public call for boycotting" the country.

"The State of Israel will actively prevent such groups from spreading their falsehoods and odious methods from within the country", he said in a statement on Sunday.

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".

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According to the Strategic Affairs Ministry, the regulation does not include those who express political criticism of Israel but only those who have taken significant, ongoing, consistent "material action" to harm Israel through advocating boycotts.

"We will continue to stand up for peace and justice in Israel, occupied Palestine, and around the world".

Asad Rehman, executive director of War on Want, said the blacklist is "a desperate attempt to silence a growing movement that is holding Israel to account for its systematic abuse of Palestinian rights, and persistent violations of worldwide law".

In November Israel denied entry to a United States employee of Amnesty International as part of its anti-boycott offensive under the same rules.

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Rights groups criticised the law as "thought control" and noted that Israel also controls who enters the Palestinian, territories apart from one border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

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