Israel advances steps to oppose those who call for its demise.
The Knesset approved a bill that bars entry into Israel of proponents of boycotts against the country, on Monday, with 46 voting in favor and 28 voting against.
Member of Knesset (MK) Roy Folkman, who introduced the legislation along with MK Bezalel Smotrich, said that criticism of Israel is acceptable, “but a boycott goes together with de-legitimization… This law is symbolic.”
He stressed the proposed bill does not constitute a dramatic change in Israel’s immigration policy.
The bill denies entry to individuals calling for a boycott of Israel or those who represent an NGO that does so, but allows the interior minister to make exceptions.
Under the current law, the interior minister already has the right to bar individuals from entering Israel. The bill entails creating a list of individuals and organizations deemed anti-Israel, and gives the minister the ability to offer exemptions to anyone on the list.
Knesset Interior Committee chairman MK David Amsalem said he viewed the new bill as an obvious step against anti-Israel elements. “Anyone who humiliates me, I do not let them into my home,” he said. “We have respect. If anyone insults us, we respond; this law is elementary.”
He added the bill does not counter legitimate criticism, and it pertains to situations in which red lines are crossed. “They are not talking about boycotting only the settlements [communities in Judea and Samaria]; they are talking about boycotting the state as a state, they are not making a distinction. We are talking about people I think are anti-Semites,” he added.
After the bill passed, Smotrich said the law reflects the will of the state to fight its enemies.
“We are done turning the other cheek,” he said. “In recent years, a new anti-Semitic 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,” he declared.
Several MK’s on the left decried the bill as an attempt to stifle legitimate criticism of Israel.
The BDS movement promotes financial, academic and cultural boycotts against Israel, ostensibly as a nonviolent struggle against the so-called “Israeli occupation.” Critics say its activities are a modern form of anti-Semitism and that its true objective is to destroy the State of Israel.