'Erdan is pressuring in the right area'

BDS groups worldwide concerned about Minister Erdan's decision to ban their entry into Israel,with some caliing for violence.

Mordechai Sones ,

BDS demonstration
BDS demonstration
Last week, the Strategic Affairs Ministry under Minister Gilad Erdan publicized a “blacklist” of close to 20 organizations leading boycotts against Israel - and banned their members entry into the country.

Included in the list are BDS groups in Europe, the United States, Chile, and South Africa.

The Lev HaOlam Organization works against the boycott movement by supporting producers in Judea and Samaria and closely monitoring actions of BDS groups around the world. In a recent review of multiple publicly available sources on boycott groups such as organizational websites, Facebook pages, and others, Lev HaOlam researchers found that many of the groups are very angry, but also worried, about the move by Minister Erdan.

Minister Gilad Erdan
צילום: Flash 90

Among groups on the list publicized by Minister Erdan is the US-based group “Jewish Voice for Peace” which has played a major role in campaigning for BDS and was even named among the top 10 anti-Israel groups by the American Anti-Defamation League.

Kemal Hawwash, a known BDS activist in England, who is also to be banned from entering Israel, wrote on his personal blog that he and the head of Jewish Voice for Peace, Rebecca Vilkomerson, were hit “hard by the ban… First, I for now and Rebecca potentially are unable to visit Israel and the OPT to show our solidarity with Palestinians.” He added that he hopes the Israeli regime "will be consigned to the dustbin of history”.

The American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) group wrote on its Facebook page that it views the ban as an “attack on free speech.”

The “Middle East Eye” website, pro-Arab in outlook, ran an op-ed where the author, a central figure in the BDS Movement, wrote “the goal of Israel is to hide war crimes” and described the move by Minister Erdan as “intimidation and violation of the right to freedom of expression and movement.”

The Facebook page of the AFPS group based in France contained a message describing the move as a “serious threat to freedom of thought and access to Occupied Palestine.” Another French organization wrote, “We will not be able to reach the youth organization with which we collaborate in the West Bank. We won’t be able to coordinate projects… This is Israel’s way of silencing us.”

The Friends of Al Aqsa (FOA) group wrote about the "blacklist", stating “The blacklist clearly demonstrates how far Israel is willing to go to stifle the legitimate voice of dissent… immediate concerns raised are the implications for those who wish to travel to the Holy Al-Aqsa sanctuary.” Further the group claimed that the real reason for the ban was to reduce the number of visitors who support the Palestinians and Al-Aqsa. Several comments (now removed) on the Facebook post called for incitement, including one saying “forget signatures, get your guns; it’s time for action.”

The Irish ISPC organization called on its Facebook page for the European Union to condemn the move by Israel and cut ties: “The apartheid regime wants to arrest our colleagues… scary, sad, anti-Democratic.”

Attorney Nati Rom, CEO of the Lev HaOlam Organization said in response, “We are pleased and welcome the decision by Minister Erdan to take a strong stance. This is another step towards stopping groups that aim to harm Israel. From reading comments on these groups’ websites and social media we saw many anti-Semitic comments by their supporters and even incitement to violence. The recent move by Minister Erdan has led these groups to show their true face and only reinforces the need to refuse these individuals entry to the country. Their outrage and concern show that Minister Erdan is pressuring in the right area.

“I call on every citizen of Israel to whom the economic future of the country is important to join our fight against the boycott and support the local producers in Israel in general and in Judea and Samaria in particular. They boycott; we buy. That is the most effective response to BDS.”