(January 18, 2018 / JNS) Israel’s decision to finally ban 20 of the worst organizations leading the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is necessary for the country’s security, and is sensible and just. BDS is a political and economic warfare movement, often combined with violence and intimidation, that is aimed at eradicating the Jewish state. No sovereign nation should permit the entry of those dedicated to its destruction. Israel, like every nation, has a duty to protect itself.
BDS groups and leaders enter Israel to harm the country and its people. They instigate and join weekly violent and disruptive anti-Israel demonstrations, during which they throw rocks at the soldiers serving in the IDF and at Jewish civilians.
We’ve seen the harm that these BDS groups inflict right here in the U.S. The Zionist Organization of America has documentedthe heinous calls for “Death to the Jews” and violence perpetrated by BDS groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) on local American college campuses. A recent Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) study, “SJP Unmasked,” details the group’s violence, anti-Semitism, intimidation tactics and connections to terrorist groups.
Further, BDS groups are promoting the adoption of even more violent tactics. At the 2017 National Member Meeting of the virulent BDS organization Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), featured speaker Fadi Quran urged JVP’s members to become “freedom fighters,” adopt “resistance” tactics (a euphemism for anti-Israel violence), engage in “guerrilla disobedience,” shut down traffic, build barricades with thousands of people, and target Israeli army supply chains and the Israeli economy. Another featured speaker honored at the same JVP gathering was Rasmea Odeh, who was convicted of murdering two Jewish students in a bombing in Israel.
To protect the safety of Israel’s men, women and children, Israel cannot allow the entry of groups that promote violence, call for Jewish blood and honor Jew-killers.
BDS groups’ connections to designated terrorist organizations should also make them persona non grata.
JCPA’s study documented that many BDS organizations are front groups for the terrorist organizations Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), as well as for Fatah, the leading governing faction of the Palestinian Authority, which still pays terrorists to murder Jews.
Additionally, a former U.S. Treasury official testified before Congress that officials of the faux charities implicated in funding Hamas have top leadership roles at the BDS group American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), which in turn sponsors and organizes efforts for SJP.
There is also something particularly fitting—a “poetic justice”—in barring entry into Israel of BDS groups who demand that nobody else should do business with or visit Israel.
Jewish lore is full of examples of poetic justice—“mida k’neged mida” (measure for measure). The Purim Megillah relates how the genocidal Haman receives the very same punishment he sought to inflict on the Jews, and how the honors Haman sought for himself are accorded to Mordechai.
Giving BDS groups a taste of their “own medicine” may also have the salutary effect of awakening consciences. Maybe, just maybe, the hypocritical BDS leader who is now wailing about not being able to visit family members in Israel (or promote her anti-Israel hate group in Israel) will start to think about how her unbridled economic warfare on the Jewish state is harming other real families. Maybe she’ll think about the families of the Jewish farmers whose produce is boycotted, or the families of Jewish and Palestinian factory workers who have lost their jobs because boycotts forced the facilities where they worked to relocate or shut down. Maybe she’ll think of the Israelis who can no longer afford to travel to see their families because of the financial burdens she has imposed on them. Maybe she’ll think about the Israeli academics who lost teaching posts in the U.S. because of her boycotts, and the Israeli students who have been harassed so badly that they’ve had to leave American universities.
Maybe, if the perpetrators of BDS have any shred of decency left in their hearts, Israel’s ban will make them rethink the horrors and hardships they are imposing on so many innocent people.
There is one problem with Israel’s ban: it doesn’t go far enough. While the 20 banned groups include some of the worst of the worst, such as JVP, SJP and AMP, there are other harmful BDS groups that Israel should add to its list of banned organizations. These include: Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel, Al Awda, Birthright Unplugged, J Street, If Not Now, Kairos USA, New Israel Fund, Partners for Progressive Israel, Sabeel, Friends of Sabeel USA, all local chapters of SJP, all member organizations of U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, and all member organizations of any other group on the current list.
Morton A. Klein is the national president of the Zionist Organization of America. Elizabeth A. Berney is ZOA’s director of special projects.