For the first time, Israel refused to allow an activist for the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement into the country on the grounds that she is working against the interests of the state. The move sets a precedent which could see thousands of anti-Israel activists turned away at the airport.
Isabel Phiri, from Malawi, has had a long affiliation with the BDS movement, which seeks to undermine Israel through “nonviolent” economic attacks. She landed at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport on Monday but, after consultations between Interior Minister Aryeh Dery and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, she was denied a tourist visa.
The incident came several months after Deri and Erdan announced an initiative to keep BDS supporters out of Israel, and deport any activists already in the country.
Phiri is an activist with the World Council of Churches group, a pro-BDS organization which is attempting to advance the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine (EAPPI) plan. According to the EAPPI website, its agenda is to urge the international community to “act against injustice in the region” and help end the “occupation” of Palestine by Israel.
Israeli officials say that EAPPI activists come to Israel on false pretenses to carry out anti-Israel activities.
“Granting an entry permit to activists such as Phri would in effect reinforce the wrongful activities she and her peers are advancing and I have no intention of lending a hand to that,” said Dery of the decision. “I will use any authority at my disposal to avert harm to Israel.”
“The place of the boycotters is outside the country’s borders and we shall continue to do everything possible to prevent them from entering our country,” Erdan vowed.