Israel on Sunday identified 20 activist groups from around the world whose members will be banned from entering the country over their calls to boycott the Jewish state, stepping up its fight against a movement it views as a serious threat.
Israel last year enacted a law that would ban any activist who “knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel.” The list made public Sunday, which includes a Nobel Peace Prize winning organization, follows up on that legislation.
“The boycott organizations must know that the state of Israel will act against them,” Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said in a statement. “The creation of this list is another step in our struggle against the incitement and lies of the boycott organizations.”
The list is part of Israel’s efforts against a grassroots movement known as BDS, which calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israrl. The movement has urged businesses, artists and universities to sever ties with Israel, and it includes thousands of volunteers around the world.
Supporters of the movement say the tactics are a nonviolent way to promote the Palestinian cause. Israel says the campaign often masks a far-reaching aim to delegitimize or destroy the Jewish state.
The listed groups, from the United States, France, South Africa and beyond, count thousands of people as members. They were chosen because they are the main ones who “operate consistently and continuously” against Israel, according to Erdan’s office.
American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group on the list, said it would continue to work for “peace and justice.” The group, together with a British Quaker organization, won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1947 for assisting World War II refugees.
“We answered the call for divestment from apartheid South Africa and we have done the same with the call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions from Palestinians who have faced decades of human rights violations,” said Kerri Kennedy, an AFSC official responsible for international programs.
The U.S.-based Jewish Voice for Peace, the only Jewish group on the list, responded to the ban in an opinion piece published on the Haartez website.
“The public naming of JVP on this list is significant. Clearly, the Israeli government is very aware that increasing numbers of Jews and all people worldwide support the BDS movement, and are seeking to intimidate and coerce us into silence.”
“Israel’s decision to specifically ban JVP is disconcerting but not surprising, given the further erosion of democratic norms and rising anxiety about the power of BDS as a tool to demand freedom,” JVP wrote on Facebook.
In the years since its formation, the BDS movement has persuaded several church organizations to divest themselves of Israel-related investments and has garnered support on U.S. college campuses. Most recently, pop singer Lorde joined a number of other performers who have canceled performances in Israel amid pressure from BDS activists.
Even so, a slew of other musicians have defied boycott calls and performed. Israel has also enjoyed new economic partnerships and diplomatic ties despite calls for boycotts and it has become a top destination for international sporting and cultural events.
Below is the full blacklist:
• AFSC (American Friends Service Committee)
• AMP (American Muslims for Palestine)
• Code Pink
• JVP (Jewish Voice for Peace)
• NSJP (National Students for Justice in Palestine)
• USCPR (US Campaign for Palestinian Rights)
• AFPS (The Association France Palestine Solidarité)
• BDS France
• BDS Italy
• ECCP (The European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine)
• FOA (Friends of al-Aqsa)
• IPSC (Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign)
• Norgeׂׂ Palestinakomitee (The Palestine Committee of Norway)
• PGS Palestinagrupperna i Sverige (Palestine Solidarity Association in Sweden)
• PSC (Palestine Solidarity Campaign)
• War on Want
• BDS Kampagne
• BDS Chile
• BDS South Africa
• BNC (BDS National Committee)
(YWN / AP)