Israel’s Knesset last week passed legislation against the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, representing just one of several setbacks this month for BDS around the world.
The Israeli bill, which passed its third and final reading with a 46-28 vote, grants the interior minister authority to deny entry visas to non-Israeli citizens who actively support boycotts of the Jewish state.
Conveying the rationale for the anti-BDS measure, Member of Knesset David Amsalem (Likud), chairman of the Knesset Interior Committee, said that, “if someone demeans me, I do not let them into my home.” Responding to critics of the legislation, Amsalem said the new law is not intended to stifle free speech, but was implemented to combat antisemitism and enemies of the Jewish state. These opponents of Israel, he said, “are not talking about boycotting only the settlements; they are talking about boycotting the state as a state, without any distinction. We are talking about antisemites here.”
One of the bill’s initiators, MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home), expressed similar sentiments, saying, “In recent years, a new antisemitic front has been initiated against Israel. Our enemies carry out a campaign to delegitimize and boycott Israel. Banning BDS supporters that come here to harm us from within is the minimum we can do against those Israel-haters.”
Left-wing Knesset members and several American Jewish organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League and the Reform and Reconstructionist movements, were highly critical of the new anti-BDS law. MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) said the law “is against freedom of expression” and “is meant to silence people.” The American Jewish lobby group J Street claimed the law “damages Israel’s democracy and helps the BDS movement.” The American Jewish Committee said it is “troubled” by the legislation.
Despite the controversy, Israel’s new law represents just one of several recent setbacks for the global BDS movement….
Read more at jns.org.