On Monday, the Ministry of the Interior approved the amendment to the Law of the Entrance to Israel, 1952. It forbids non-citizens who work with organizations that push a boycott of Israel to enter the country. Members from Bayit HaYehudi, Kulanu, Likud, Shas, Yesh Atid, Zionist Camp (Labor) and United Torah Judaism supported the bill (see! Meretz, Yisrael Beitenu and the United Arab List can all be in one group sometimes!).
The movement, led by BDS, to levy economic and cultural sanctions on Israel because of the conflict works on multiple levels. It aims to convince individuals, organizations and governments to work against Israeli interests. It depends on who you ask, but it probably has not had much of an economic effect (When Mondoweiss is all you got then you ain’t got much). On the other hand, a number of artists and academics have been inspired to be hostile towards Israel, most notably Pink Floyd star and white walker Roger Waters. It has also effectively made some college campuses less Israel friendly. Overall, I suspect that BDS has created more jobs in Israel from the need to survey and combat their activities than it has destroyed. Thanks guys!
At the committee meeting to discuss the bill, there were two main lines against the proposal. The first was presented by Michal Rosin (Meretz) who argued that the state can already ban anyone it wants and that there is no reason for a law that will bring bad PR to Israel. In addition, she argued that it is better to let the Minister of the Interior make the decision instead of forcing his hand with a law that can allow those denied access to appeal to courts in protest.
The second argument was made by the Israeli-Arab MKs (Jamal Zahalka was kicked out of the committee meeting for a record setting billionth time) who view the law as political persecution of human rights activists who support the Palestinian cause.
How far a state should go in protecting its interests by limiting criticism is a classic question. It is important to note that the law will not allow the state to prevent entry to citizens. I’m not sure that the state needs to allow non-citizens the benefits of citizenship if their intentions is solely to hurt the state. That said, if this law passes, it will almost certainly be publicized as a limitation of free speech. Considering that the BDS movement is struggling to gain ground outside of a cadre of ideologically “passionate” activists, it may not be worth the PR hit.
The law will now go to the Knesset for its first reading.
Do you think this is a good use of the Knesset’s time and money? Leave a comment below!
בחוק הכניסה לישראל, התשי”ב–1952, בסעיף 2, בסופו יבוא:
“(ד) לא יינתנו לאדם שאינו אזרח ישראלי או תושב קבע במדינת ישראל אשרה ורישיון ישיבה מכל סוג שהוא, אם הוא או החברה, הארגון או העמותה, שהוא נציגם, קוראים לחרם על מדינת ישראל כהגדרתו בחוק למניעת פגיעה במדינת ישראל באמצעות חרם, התשע”א–2011.
(ה) על אף האמור בסעיף קטן (ד), שר הפנים רשאי לייתן אשרה ורישיון ישיבה במקרים מיוחדים אשר ייקבעו בתקנות.”