In the wake of worldwide pressure, Israel is sending a clear message to the world, that the day of the Jewish state bowing down is over. The country realizes and recognizes its most important function is to remain a Jewish State and will do all it can to ensure the country remains safe.
In the UK, there are hate laws whereby enemies of the country are denied entrée to the nation. The United States has a myriad of laws and systems to ensure that those opposed to America do not enter our boundaries. In any democracy, someone seeking to harm a country is not permitted to enter.
This week in Israel, a group of Members of Knesset, from across the political spectrum – including those in opposition – presented a bill whereby boycotters of Israel will not be permitted entrée’ to the country. MK Yinon Magal (Bayit Yehudi) presented a bill which was co-sponsored by Zionist Union, Yesh Atid, Kulanu, United Torah Judaism, Shas and the Likud which stated “anyone who is not a citizen or permanent resident of Israel will not be allowed to enter Israel if he or she, or a company or organization he or she represents, calls to boycott Israel.”
According to the 2011 Anti-Boycott Bill which passed Israel’s Supreme Court, a boycott is “Deliberate avoidance of economic, social or academic ties or ties to a person or other body just because of his connection to the State of Israel, its institutions or regions under its control, in order to harm it economically, social or academically.” The words “regions under its control” is specifically mentioned, as it denotes and includes those who specifically call to boycott the West Bank.
As the bill noted, “The absurd situation in which a person can be active in boycotting Israel and harming it abroad and then come to Israel and be accepted with open arms must be stopped. A country that wants to live cannot allow such a reality.”
This policy is a continuation of one whereby Prime Minister Netanyahu recently said, “The boycott generators do not see the settlements in Judea and Samaria but the settlements in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Beersheba, Haifa, and of course, Jerusalem, as the focus of the conflict.”
Netanyahu noted “We must not cave into the pressure, [we must] expose the lies and attack the attackers. We shall unite forces in Israel and abroad, expose our enemy’s lies, and fight for the Israeli citizen’s right to live their lives peacefully and safely.” Isaac Herzog, the leader of the Labor Party added “For years, I’ve devoted efforts in the fight against the boycott movement. We will fight to protect Israel’s good name. This is a diplomatic intifada being waged by the haters of Israel.” Centrist Yair Lapid, said that the boycott “… is not about policies, or about the settlements, or about the peace process; this is classic anti-Semitism in a modern disguise.”
A few months ago, Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled that Israel’s Finance Minister can “impose fines and withhold funding from Israeli NGOs calling for boycotts of businesses in all or parts of Israel and the power to file lawsuits against those NGOs.” New Israel Fund (NIF) sponsored organizations, including Gush Shalom, Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) challenged that ruling in court – and were opposed.
Justice Hanan Meltzer described boycotts as “political terrorism, ” clarifying that the State of Israel has a right to defend itself from them.
There are those in the Jewish community that think they can “thread the needle” by being both “pro-Israel” and “pro-boycott” as long as the boycott is only of items from Judea, Samaria and Eastern Jerusalem. There are few things that unite the political left and right in Israel today, however standing up against the Israel boycott is clearly one of them.
The high-profile SodaStream debacle, which saw actress Scarlett Johansson step down as “global ambassador” of Oxfam centered around this very issue. Ms. Johansson resigned from Oxfam, noting she has “a fundamental difference of opinion” with Oxfam International because the charity opposes all trade from Israeli settlements – and the Jewish world across the political spectrum applauded her. This bill centers around this very issue.
Today in Israel, the right and left are telling Jews around the world “you can no longer try and thread the needle and be welcome here.” Differences of opinion on policy are fine, economic terrorism against Israel is unacceptable. Today the Israeli government is saying in no uncertain terms “you cannot stand with Israel while also supporting a boycott.”
The bill notes that in recent years there has been an increase in calls to boycott Israel: “It seems that [boycotts are] a new front in the war against Israel, for which the state, thus far, has avoided properly preparing. This bill is meant to prevent people or representatives of companies and organizations that call to boycott Israel to act within our territory to promote their ideas.”
Peter Beinart, Alisa Doctoroff, the President of UJA-Federation, Brian Lurie and others can continue to support the boycott against Israel – but they will do so from outside the country. We agree with the Supreme Court and the Knesset that entrée’ should be forbidden to those who support boycotts.