U.S. appears to back Israel on removal of BDS activists

State Department spokeswoman says U.S. does not support BDS, says countries have the right to prevent entry to activists.

Nitsan Keidar,

Trump and team
Trump and team

The U.S. State Department appeared on Tuesday to back Israel’s policy of refusing the entry of BDS activists into the country.

At her daily press briefing, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert was asked about Israel denying entry earlier this week to Ariel Elyse Gold, a known anti-Israel activist belonging to the Codepink organization.

“I don’t know the details of this particular case. Countries are, however, allowed to admit or not to admit certain people into their countries. Just leave it at that,” said Nauert in response.

She also pointed out that “we as a United States Government do not support what you call BDS” though she stressed that the U.S. values freedom of expression.

“I don’t have the details on her particular case or on this particular case. We value the freedom of expression and we refer you back to the Government of Israel on that…last thing I will say is that countries are sovereign. They have a right to either admit or deny admittance to individuals at their border,” said Nauert upon being pressed on the issue.

The comments appear to reflect a new position by the administration in Washington, after many years in which the State Department was very strict regarding Israel's actions against anti-Israeli organizations and activists.

Gold was denied entry to Israel earlier this week when it was discovered, as she arrived at the Ben Gurion International Airport, that she is a well-known activist who was leading boycotts against Israel.

As a result, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri decided to cancel Gold’s study visa.

"I am again using my authority to prevent the entry into Israel of a woman who came to act against Israel and call for its boycott," Deri said. "This is a Jewish woman who tried to abuse this fact. Even more serious is the fact that the woman was warned and yet tried to enter the country anyway. Those boycott activists must understand that the rules of the game have changed. We will no longer permit those who harm the state and its residents to enter the country.”

Israel has several times in recent months refused entry to BDS activists who attempted to enter the country.

Earlier this year, Israel’s government approved a plan which will set aside $72 million to fighting the campaign to boycott it.

The plan, which would entail the largest monetary investment yet by Israel specifically toward combating the BDS campaign, calls for setting up a not-for-profit organization whose board will be made up of government officials and donors from abroad, the report said.