On Monday night the Knesset passed a law empowering the Interior Ministry to ban known Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activists from entering the country. The law does not apply to Israelis active in BDS. The law passed its third and final reading by 46:28.
This law is one of several steps the government has taken since establishing an anti-BDS task force two years ago. Other steps include lobbying foreign governments to curtail BDS activities when they cross the line from anti-settlement to anti-Semitism.
BDS is a loosely organized coalition of dozens of pro-Palestinian activist groups. It is active on many US and other Western college campuses.
BDS claims to be anti-settlement, and promotes efforts to boycott produce from what they define as “illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.”
In reality, many of the groups operating under the BDS banner have morphed from legitimate anti-settlement organizations to overtly anti-Semitic ones. They regularly accuse Israel of being an illegitimate apartheid state that has no right to exist, and call for total South African-style sanctions on it until it collapses, just as the apartheid regime in SA did.
BDS holds a series of “Israel Apartheid Weeks” on dozens of campuses all over the US, Europe and South Africa. Campuses with active BDS chapters have become hotbeds of anti-Semitism, masquerading as merely anti-settlement. Jewish students at these campuses report a pervasive atmosphere of hostility and intimidation.
Knesset Interior Committee Chairman David Amsalem (Likud) said the law was a reasonable self-defense response. “We are not talking about banning activists who criticize Israeli policy, and think we should withdraw from Judea and Samaria and allow a Palestinian state to be established there, but those who have clearly crossed the line, and are clearly pursuing an anti-Semitic agenda aimed not at ending what they call the Israeli occupation, but Israel’s very existence.”
Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Homeland) MK Bezalel Smotrich, one of the MKs who initiated the law said that the law send a clear message that Israel will confront its enemies wherever they are. “The days of turning the other cheek are over, and Israel will act to neutralize the threat posed by this new age anti-Semitism.”
Joint List leader Ayman Odeh and other Arab MKs condemned the law as undemocratic and another sign of right-wing McCarthyism.