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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.  

In practice, the law is not applied to every person who has expressed support for BDS; nevertheless, it has been widely criticised by 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 Association for Israel Studies (AIS) also expressed concern that the law endangers academic freedom and is harmful to Israeli scholars as well as those who study Israel from abroad.

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);
Jonathan Lis, Israel's Travel Ban: Knesset Bars Entry to Foreigners Who Call for Boycott of Israel or Settlements, Haaretz, (March 7, 2017);
Statement of the Association for Israel Studies on the ‘Entry to Israel Law,’ (March 10, 2017).