Legal rights NGO: Israel's BDS blacklist 'reminiscent of Apartheid South Africa'

Legal rights NGO: Israel's BDS blacklist 'reminiscent of Apartheid South Africa'

The "BDS ban list" includes prominent organisations like Jewish Voice for Peace, War on Want and Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) which have been supporting the global Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanction (BDS) movement.

Israel instituted a travel ban on 20 worldwide organizations promoting a campaign to boycott the Middle Eastern country over its policies toward Palestine.

The Ministry of Strategic Affairs announced over the weekend that 20 organizations, including six that are based in the US, are on the list.

"We answered the call for divestment from apartheid South Africa and we have done the same with the call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions from Palestinians who have faced decades of human rights violations", said Kerri Kennedy, an AFSC official. The members of the banned organisations will be denied entry visas and residency rights under a controversial law. The Israeli NGOs produced numerous studies on BDS activities, and eventually the government began taking the issue seriously before launching a plan of action.

Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan declared in a statement that the move reflected how Israel has "moved from defense to attack" and called out the BDS movement for spreading "false propaganda". Between 2010-2013 then Strategic Affairs Ministry Director General Yossi Kuperwasser developed an action plan on how to counter BDS. The leaders of those groups will not be allowed to enter Israel. Most recently, pop singer Lorde joined a number of other performers who have canceled performances in Israel amid pressure from BDS activists.

Head of the Zionist Union faction Avi Gabbay leads a faction meeting at the Knesset
Head of the Zionist Union faction Avi Gabbay leads a faction meeting at the Knesset

Included on the 20 banned NGOs is the Quaker American Friends Service Committee, which won a 1947 Nobel Peace Prize for helping refugees flee the Holocaust during WW2.

Israeli Interior Minister Arye Dery, who is responsible for implementing the list, slammed these groups for "trying to exploit the law and our hospitality to act against Israel and to defame the country". "But I am also heartened by this indicator of the BDS movement's growing strength, and hope that it will bring the day closer when just as I go to visit my friends and family in Israel, so will Palestinian friends and colleagues be able to return home", Vilkomerson said in the statement.

According to Diker, "Over the last two years the government has done a lot of homework to determine who are the worst violators in the BDS campaign that completely reject Israel's very right to exist as a Jewish State".

In the years since its formation, the BDS movement has persuaded several church organizations to divest themselves of Israel-related investments and has garnered support on US college campuses.

"It really shows how vague this idea of BDS is".

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