By Zain Hussain, MA International Politics
The Israeli Government has published a list of organisation that endorse the Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions Movement (BDS) against the Israeli government. BDS aims to put pressure on Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank and its blockade of the Gaza Strip. Anyone who is a member of any of these organisations will be banned from entry into Israel. Organisations include Jewish Voice for Peace, American Friends Service Committee (a Quaker organisation that has received a Nobel Peace Prize for helping to rescue victims of Nazi persecution), and the European Coordination for Committees and Associations for Palestine.
According the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister, Gilad Erdan, has said, “The boycott organizations need to know that the State of Israel will act against them and not allow [them] to enter its territory to harm its citizens.” The Israeli Ministry of Interior is tasked with implementing the list. Interior Minister, Arye Dery, is reported by Haaretz to have said, “These people are trying to exploit the law and our hospitality to act against Israel and to defame the country. I will act against this by every means.”
The Independent has reported that Gary Spedding, a British consultant on Israel and the Palestinian Territories, claimed that the list is merely an excuse for Israel to ban human rights activists and observers from entering the country. He pointed out that this was due to the fragile nature of the Israeli regime, and a sign of the extent that Israel would go to curb dissent against Israeli policies towards the Palestinians.
Spedding warned that activists planning on visiting Israel and the Palestinian Territories, in order to engage with the reality on the ground, need to keep their social media presence minimal and ensure that they also have tourism reasons to elaborate on when entering Israel.
Israeli media and news channels are particularly sensitive to issues surrounding the boycott. News programmes in Israel often discuss the issue of BDS on university campuses outside of Israel, particularly in the US.
It remains to be said that anyone who is planning to travel to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories needs to be aware of organisations they may be affiliated with, and the potential repercussions once at entry point into Israel. Such people could be questioned intrusively for hours about their links and everyday lives. They may need to show their phones, and their social media and email accounts could also be investigated.
The full list of barred organisations, as reported by Haaretz, is as follows:
■ France-Palestine Solidarity Association
■ BDS France
■ BDS Italy
■ The European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine
■ Friends of Al-Aqsa
■ Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign
■ The Palestine Committee of Norway
■ Palestine Solidarity Association of Sweden
■ Palestine Solidarity Campaign
■ War on Want
■ BDS Kampagne
■ American Friends Service Committee
■ American Muslims for Palestine
■ Code Pink
■ Jewish Voice for Peace
■ National Students for Justice in Palestine
■ US Campaign for Palestinian Rights
■ BDS Chile
■ BDS South Africa
■ BDS National Committee