The Strategic Affairs Ministry on Sunday released a list of 20 international pro-BDS organizations to be banned from the country for their calls to boycott the Jewish state.
“We have switched from defense to offense,” said Public Security and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan.
“The boycott organizations need to know that the State of Israel will act to stop them and prevent their representatives from entering the country to harm its citizens.”
The blacklisted groups “consistently and continuously act against the State of Israel by pressuring groups, institutions and states to boycott Israel,” the ministry said.
Among the groups on the list are six US based organizations, including Jewish Voice for Peace, and 10 European organizations, including leading BDS groups in Italy, France, Norway and Sweden.
The ban is set to be enforced beginning in March and will be limited to people who hold senior positions or who are very active within the organizations.
“The formulation of this list is another step forward in our battle against the incitement and lies of the BDS organizations. No country would grant entrance to visitors who seek to harm it, especially ones whose goal is to terminate Israel as a Jewish state,” said Erdan.
The ministry added that it will be passing the names of the organizations over to the Interior Ministry and border patrol.
Interior Minister Arye Deri said, “As the minister in charge of the Israel Entry Law, I made it perfectly clear that I would use my authority to prevent individuals and representatives of groups, whose sole purpose is to harm Israel and its security, from entering its borders.”
“These people are trying to take advantage of the law and our hospitality in order to act against and defame Israel,” he added.
Since Erdan’s tenure in the ministry he has pursued an aggressive policy against BDS organizations.
The ministry pointed out that this approach is successful in curtailing BDS efforts, highlighting the recent announcements by Denmark and Norway, who said they would toughen their stances against the funding of pro-Palestinian organizations.
The ministry also touted their efforts which they claim led 24 US states, as well as the federal government, to pass anti-BDS legislation.
The organizations on the list, however, seem undeterred by the latest tactic. Several organizations on the list issued statements on Sunday, claiming that Israel’s move only serves as proof that the BDS movement is spreading and having an impact.
Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, issued a statement and said the ban was “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.”
“We will not be bullied by these attempts to punish us for a principled political stance that increasing numbers of Jews and non-Jews support worldwide,” she said.
Vilkomerson added: “As someone with considerable family in Israel, this policy will be a personal hardship. But I am also heartened by this indicator of the BDS movement’s growing strength, and hope that it will bring the day closer when just as I go to visit my friends and family in Israel, so will Palestinian friends and colleagues be able to return home.”
The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign issued a statement via its Facebook page and said being on the list was a “badge of honor” and that it was “in good company.”
“The apartheid regime fears solidarity so much it will stop us from visiting our friends and colleagues in Palestine,” the group wrote. “[It is] also worth noting that The Only Democracy is now openly banning Jews who hold the ‘wrong’ opinions on Zionism, the official state ideology in Israel.” Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights said: “When Israel, which aims to portray itself to the world as liberal and democratic, blacklists activists dedicated to nonviolent organizing and dissent, it only further exposes itself as a fraud.
“It is clear to us how effective building the movement for Palestinian rights around the world has become,” he added.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.