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Israel Reportedly Aims to Bar 20 Organizations From Country Over Boycott Calls

09 January 2018

"The creation of this list is another step in our struggle against the incitement and lies of the boycott organisations".

"We have moved from defense to attack", Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said in a statement, according to the Times of Israel.

Numerous organizations on the list are affiliated with the "boycott, divestment and sanctions" movement, or BDS, which discourages the purchase of Israeli goods and pressures global companies and celebrities to avoid doing business with or in Israel.

The Israeli Strategic Affairs Ministry on Sunday published a "blacklist" containing names of 20 BDS-linked organizations from around the world who will be banned from entering the country.

The NGOs on the banned list include the Paris-based Association France Palestine Solidarite, British charity War on Want, and the American Friends Service Committee - a Nobel Peace Prize-winning US Quaker organization.

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"It is a desperate attempt to silence a growing movement that is holding Israel accountable for its systematic abuse of Palestinian rights and persistent violations of global law", Rehman said. AFSC notably argues for a partial, not full, boycott of Israeli companies and entities.

Supporters of the movement say the tactics are a nonviolent way to promote the Palestinian cause, while Israel says the campaign goes beyond fighting its occupation of territory Palestinians claim for their state and often masks a more far-reaching aim to delegitimize or destroy the nation of Israel.

CODEPINK has organized two successful BDS campaigns, one against the cosmetics company AHAVA and another against SodaStream. AFSC's inclusion in the list has surprised allies, especially given the organization's history of aiding Jewish refugees.

Erdan's office said the list would be provided to Israel's immigration authority, but it wasn't clear how the ban would be enforced, including for Israeli citizens who might be members of the groups.

"With fewer visitors to support Palestinians in Jerusalem, Israel appears to be in its final phase before occupying the holy site", he said. In March, the Knesset approved a travel ban on foreigners calling for a boycott of Israel or its settlements.

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Hassan Jabareen, of the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, said the travel ban was draconian and arbitrary.

"Who today doesn't oppose a boycott of the settlements? 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, associate general secretary for worldwide programs for AFSC.

"We will continue to stand up for peace and justice in Israel, occupied Palestine, and around the world".

The BDS movement is a Palestinian-led nonviolent campaign launched more than a decade ago seeking to end Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories.

American pro-Israel groups such as the Anti-Defamation League and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee have accused JVP of exploiting its status as a Jewish organization to bolster the BDS movement.

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Rebecca Vilkomerson, the executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, criticised the publication of the list, saying it was "disconcerting but not surprising given the further erosion of democratic norms and rising anxiety about the power of BDS as a tool to demand freedom".

Israel Reportedly Aims to Bar 20 Organizations From Country Over Boycott Calls