The following two accounts of discrimination against parties critical of Israel were published in an email appeal circulated last week. Please read them and consider signing the petition circulated by Credo Action.
The first account is shared here:
I’m the First Jew Banned from Israel for Supporting BDS
Long before I was barred from boarding a flight to Israel due to my political beliefs, I felt conflicted about my decision to show up at the Dulles International Airport this past Sunday. I was bound for Israel and Palestine as part of an interfaith delegation co-sponsored by my organization, Jewish Voice for Peace, along with American Muslims for Palestine and the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. Though I’ve been to Israel/Palestine nearly a dozen times before — I grew up visiting Israel with family, spent a summer in Israel with my Jewish summer camp, studied at Hebrew University in Occupied East Jerusalem in college, and spent three summers on the West Bank living and working with Palestinian communities — I have become much more uneasy about these trips. Since college, when I learned about the forced displacement of Palestinians that began in 1948 and continues to this day, I have been deeply unsettled by the idea that I have a “right” to visit the ancestral land of dear Palestinian friends and colleagues who cannot themselves visit what they consider to be their homeland. Despite this unease, I became a rabbi for one core reason: to build toward justice and liberation for all people by organizing with Jews in deep partnership with directly impacted communities across borders and faiths. Our delegation planned to spend 12 days in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories, meeting with Palestinian and Israeli grassroots activists and faith leaders and visiting our respective holy sites. Instead, five of us were barred from even getting on the flight. When I arrived at the check-in counter at the airport, to my shock, a Lufthansa airline employee informed five of us — three Jews, one Christian and one Muslim — that the Israeli government had told the airline not to let us on board. This isn’t just about me, or Jews or other faith leaders not getting to go to Israel. Banning, profiling, detaining and deporting Palestinians and Muslims at Israeli airports has long been part of Israeli practices. This pattern has been documented not only by human rights organizations but also by the U.S. federal government, and has been explicitly acknowledged — and condoned — by Israel’s High Court … What happened to us Sunday was something new. We were being barred for our beliefs, we would learn. In a statement, Israeli officials confirmed that we were denied entry because of our support for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, also known as BDS … With the BDS ban, Israel promised to ban foreign nationals who publicly call for sanctions against it. Widely criticized as a huge infringement on basic civil liberties like freedom of speech and nonviolent resistance, my fellow travelers and I are its first victims. By criminalizing activism for Palestinian rights through this travel ban, Israel is shattering the myth of itself as a Jewish democracy. A country that bans those who criticize its human rights violations is fundamentally anti-democratic. To deny me entry because I publicly and unapologetically oppose the oppression of Palestinians is an act of desperation by a government that knows its rule by force is unsustainable. But the ban also reveals that Israel is deeply afraid of the power of people’s movements, non-violent resistance and human connection across borders. Historically, campaigns utilizing boycotts and divestment campaigns have built essential grassroots pressure, demanding change from governments and institutions enforcing oppressive policies. I believe that these tactics are the most ethical and hopeful way forward to ensure that, one day, Palestinian families might pray, live and move freely in their homeland … Israel knows these connections between people and movements are powerful enough to challenge its nearly 70 years of dispossession and 50 years of occupation. That’s why BDS scares Israel so much.
~ Alissa Wise
July 26, 2017
The second account is written here:
These 4 Things Will Get You Barred from Entering Israel
A day after five activists in the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement were barred from flying from the United States to Israel, senior Israeli government ministers published an official statement explaining their decision to keep them out of the country. “These were prominent activists who continuously [sic] advocate for a boycott and who sought to come [to Israel] as part of a delegation of extremist boycott organizations whose entire purpose is to harm Israel,” Interior Minister Arye Dery and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said in a joint statement. In March, the Knesset passed a law that bars from Israel any foreigners who have publicly expressed support for boycotting Israel. In their statement, Dery and Erdan said the BDS supporters were barred from the plane because of this new law. Separately, Erdan said “the rules of the game have changed,” and that organizations seeking to harm Israel’s “national security” [sic] through boycotts would be denied entry to the country … A spokeswoman said decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, usually in compliance with recommendations from the Strategic Affairs Ministry, which monitors the international boycott movement … The five activists barred from flying to Israel were part of a 22-member interfaith delegation. They were about to board a Lufthansa flight from Washington Dulles International Airport when an airline representative notified them that instructions had been received from Israeli immigration authorities not to allow them to fly. The activists prevented from flying with the group were members of three organizations that support BDS: Jewish Voice for Peace, American Muslims for Palestine and Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. On Monday, the Interior Ministry published a list of criteria that determine which organizations and activists fall under the controversial new ban. The organizations that will be targeted, according to these criteria, are those that promote a boycott “actively, consistently and continuously.” The document notes, however, that just because an organization is “anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian, or has an agenda that is critical of Israeli government policy,” is not an excuse to ban its members from the country. The ban on BDS activists, the document said, will apply to activists in those organizations that have been targeted as well as to independent activists who meet one of the following criteria:
1. They hold senior-level positions in the targeted organizations;
2. They are key activists in the boycott movement, whether or not they operate independently or through the targeted organizations;
3. They are establishment figures (such as mayors) who openly support a boycott;
4. They operate on behalf of targeted organizations.
A complete list of organizations that have been targeted by the new law will be published in the near future
~ Judy Maltz
July 25, 2017