The Israeli government has finally published its BDS blacklist, which would prevent entry to Israel– known for months to be in the works. It includes 20 organizations that support the Palestinian-led, nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) resistance movement against the occupation — including U.S.-based organizations American Muslims for Palestine, CODEPINK, the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights and Jewish Voice for Peace.
The blacklist would Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, who played a crucial role in compiling the blacklist, touted it as a strategic change in the way Israel handles BDS.
“We have shifted from defense to offense,” Erdan said, as reported by Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz. “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 other blacklisted U.S.-based organizations are National Students for Justice in Palestine and the American Friends Service Committee, as well as eleven European organizations and three more based in South America and Africa.
Leaders and members of the blacklisted organizations view it as an official implementation of Israel’s long followed unofficial policy of turning away Palestinian human rights activists at its border.
Omar Barghouti, a founder of the BDS movement, said the move by Israel’s “far-right regime” would only help the campaign to boycott Israel (in a statement released by IMEU):
“Israel’s new McCarthyism is reaching a new low. By waging an all-out war on the peaceful BDS movement for Palestinian rights and by now banning international human rights organizations and advocates from entry, Israel’s desperate and brutal attempts to weaken support for BDS are already backfiring.
In an interview with +972 Magazine, Jewish Voice for Peace executive-director Rebecca Vilkomerson noted that “Israel’s decision to specifically ban JVP leaders from entry is disconcerting but not surprising, given the consistent erosion of democratic norms as well as increasing fear of the BDS movement in Israel.”
To Vilkomerson, the blacklist is not only an organizational hardship but a personal one. The Brooklyn activist is married to an Israeli and has extensive family and friends in Israel and the West Bank whom she will likely no longer be able to visit.
But the barring of Jewish Voice for Peace, an explicitly Jewish organization, suggests a true ideological contradiction forming between Israel’s claim as homeland to all Jews and Israel’s fear of the catalyzing BDS movement. And it further reveals the fissures within the mainstream American Jewish community regarding Israel.
In fact, in the approximately two days since it was made public that Jewish Voice for Peace is included on the blacklist, the general social media response suggests that membership and donations to the non-profit have increased.
Vilkomerson told Mondoweiss this would be impossible to confirm until tomorrow.
Among the twenty blacklisted organizations there was an overwhelming sense of momentum — an affirmation that BDS is successfully putting pressure on Israel to end its abuse of Palestinians.
“This [blacklist] is a declaration of failure and defeat by the state of Israel and it grows out of the global BDS movement,” Dr. Osama Abuirshaid, national policy director at American Muslims for Palestine, told Mondoweiss.
“[Israel] failed in confronting this movement, which is a nonviolent movement for Palestinian rights, and the only way for Israel to deal with this is to repress the activists who are fighting for Palestinian rights in a non-violent way, as it represses the Palestinians in a violent way within the borders of occupied Palestine,” Abuirshaid added.
It is unclear exactly how or if the ban will inhibit the work of the blacklisted organizations, many of which already work primarily inside the United States.
But Ariel Gold of CODEPINK noted that the BDS blacklist could have the effect of keeping “those of us that work really hard for Palestinian rights as disconnected as [possible] to the people struggling on the ground.”
The blacklist would almost certainly prevent Gold and other members of CODEPINK, a organization particularly active in protests alongside Palestinians in places such as Nabi Saleh or Hebron in the occupied West Bank, from entry into Israel.
It will “keep us from being able to see with our own eyes and keep us from being able to participate with our own bodies,” Gold told Mondoweiss.
But Gold recognized the absurdity and desperation in this move and is confident many others will as well.
She explained to me that as a Jew, it is fair for her to challenge everything, even the very concept of god. But to Israel, the only thing immune to challenge is “the validity of a Jewish state.”
“Israel is willing to do anything, even give up their image — which was already a false image — of being a democratic state and being a homeland for all Jews in order to try and prevent the inevitable,” Gold said. “This BDS ban really only strengthens the movement further…it allows the rest of the world to see this hypocrisy that Israel is even more clearly.”
At the news that the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights was included on the blacklist, executive-director Yousef Munayyer wrote the following in a defiant letter to supporters:
“We wear this designation as a badge of honor. When Israel, which aims to portray itself to the world as liberal and democratic, blacklists activists dedicated to nonviolent organizing and dissent, it only further exposes itself as a fraud. It is clear to us how effective building the movement for Palestinian rights around the world has become. Our commitment to the rights of Palestinians, and our demand to hold Israel to account for the denial of these rights, is unwavering. As in the effort against apartheid in South Africa, this blacklist and repressive efforts like it will be mere footnotes in the historic march toward freedom, justice and equality.”
Here is a full list of the organizations on the blacklist.
US: 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
Europe: The France Association Palestine Solidarity, BDS France, The European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine, BDS Italy, 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 (BDS Germany)
South America: BDS Chile
Africa: BDS South Africa
Palestinian BDS National Committee