Israel’s passing of a law that bars entry to foreigners involved in boycotting Israel (including its settlements) was condemned by a wide spectrum of Jewish organizations, including J Street, Americans for Peace Now, the American Jewish Committee, Jewish Voice for Peace, and others.
The bill alienates and criminalizes even those who have supported a ‘partial’ or ‘selective’ boycott, which has merely targeted settlements.
Such strategy has been the hallmark of those who sought to mark their opposition to settlements as an ‘obstacle to peace’ as USA would often call it, based on the perception of a two-state solution that was supposedly just around the corner. Policies such as EU regulations to mark settlement products in recent years, have been under this notion – to show that it was the settlements that are being criticized, not the state of Israel as a whole (so as to keep away from the notion of ‘delegitimization’ of Israel as a whole, which is often regarded as anti-Semitic by Israel apologists).
Conceptually, this selective notion has been puzzling for some – are the settlements not the child of Israel? Did settlers just appear there, again and again, with Israel simply ‘adjusting itself to a new reality’ which was forced upon it?
These used to be critical questions, entailing careful nuance. But Israel has cut through all that. With its new law (actually based upon the 2011 anti-boycott law which was meant mostly for ‘internal’ purposes), Israel is equating in no uncertain ways itself with its settlements. It does not matter if one is selective – the settlements, which are considered illegal by international law, are a one piece with the state.
So now, activists and organizations, even the liberal Zionist ones who have supported boycott of settlements, are to ask themselves: If Israel does not differentiate between itself and its occupied territories, if Israel bars entry to any foreigner who boycotts (even if they are Zionist), why should the boycotters make the differentiation between Israel and its settlements? Even if they still think that ‘settlements are an obstacle to peace’, it is now the state that fully and unequivocally sponsors them by this law. All masks are dropped.
This law will thus challenge the sincerity of those protesting against Israel’s policies: Are they willing to take Israel, as a one state, to task for its violations of international law? Will some continue to target the theft but not the thief, even when the thief has declared the theft their own?