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Anti-Semitism: Israeli Knesset Passes Anti-BDS Legislation

(March 2017)

On March 7, 2017, the Israeli Knesset approved legislation aimed at barring supporters of the BDS movement from entering the country.  The legislation was passed with a final vote of 46-28, following three readings.  The anti-BDS legislation applies to any individual who knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel that, given the content of the call and the circumstances in which it was issued, has a reasonable possibility of leading to the imposition of a boycott.  In addition to applying to those who call for boycotts against Israel, the bill also prohibits entry to those who support boycotts against Israeli institutions as well as settlements.  

The legislation faced tough criticism from all sides, including from civil rights organizations in and outside of the country.  The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) issued a statement asserting that the law violates basic democratic rules in that it sets a political position as a reason to prevent foreigners from entering Israel and occupied territory.  The U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) took to Twitter to express their disappointment, tweeting Israel’s democracy, pluralism, open society serve as best defense against #BDS.  New law harms rather than helps.  The CEO of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), David Harris, explained that while AJC, a longtime, staunch friend of Israel and opponent of the BDS movement fully sympathizes with the underlying desire to defend the legitimacy of the State of Israel...  barring entry to otherwise qualified visitors on the basis of their political views will not by itself defeat BDS, nor will it help Israel’s image as the beacon of democracy in the Middle East.  

Sources: ADL opposes Israel’s anti-BDS law, Israel National News, (March 7, 2017);
AJC joins US Jewish groups criticizing Israel’s anti-BDS entry law, JTA, (March 7, 2017);
Lis, Jonathan.  Israel's Travel Ban: Knesset Bars Entry to Foreigners Who Call for Boycott of Israel or Settlements, Haaretz (March 7, 2017)