Miriam Elman: Israel Is Right to Boycott Its Boycotters

By Miriam F. Elman

(The Forward | Jan. 9, 2018) This weekend Israel published a list of 20 mainly European and US-based pro-BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) organizations whose senior members will be automatically barred from entering the country. The list is a follow up to Israel’s decision last March to amend its 1952 Entry Into Israel Law so that foreign nationals who support a boycott would be prevented from abusing tourist visas.

“Now that Israel has specified exactly which radical anti-Israel groups will be affected by the ban, the fury is reaching apoplectic proportions.”

Despite the outcry from liberal circles, the amended law, and now the list of BDS organizations to be barred from Israel, are long overdue correctives to an absurd situation in which Israel welcomes those who work to undermine the country 24/7, and who actively incite hatred and discrimination against the state.

In recent years, key BDS activists entered Israel for the sole motive of engaging in a wide range of anti-Israel political activities such as harassing and obstructing IDF and security personnel at West Bank protests and collecting footage to be used to delegitimize the Jewish State once they got back home. For years these high-profile activists were basically taking advantage of Israel’s democratic institutions like freedom of the press in order to work against it. It makes sense if you think about it. People calling for a boycott of Israel aren’t there to enjoy the country but to find evidence of its alleged wrongdoing. In other words, prior to the ban, you had people visiting Israel whose only goal in so doing was to demonize the only country in the Middle East that actually grants all its citizens the kinds of civil liberties and human rights that others in the region can only dream about.

The new targeting of active BDS proponents entering Israel is a means of rectifying the harm that this was causing.

Nevertheless, the amended entry law has already drawn considerable outrage from US-based anti-Israel activists, first when five “famous and significant” radical BDS-promoters were barred from flying from the U.S to Israel this summer. Now that Israel has specified exactly which radical anti-Israel groups will be affected by the ban, the fury is reaching apoplectic proportions.

Media outlets and social media sites are being inundated with statements, op-eds and press releases opposing the ban, some even claiming that the move shows the effectiveness of BDS, and will rebound to the benefit of the banned groups by leading to increased interest and membership.

Much of this response is silly. Overwhelming evidence suggests that BDS is actually contracting, not growing. Two dozen U.S. states have now passed anti-BDS laws, recognizing that its platform is merely a continuation of the discriminatory Arab League boycott of Israel. According to a recent study of a number of American campuses, the vast majority of students reject academic boycotts of Israel, and not a single university has implemented a divestment policy.

Indeed, now ranked among the top 25 richest countries on the planet, Israel continues to forge new economic partnerships and diplomatic ties with countries and companies across the globe, despite the persistent calls for boycott and sanctions …

Read more: https://forward.com/opinion/391724/israel-is-right-to-boycott-its-boycotters/

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