Israel's BDS Blacklist, the Fine Print: Who Will Actually Be Denied Entry

Activists who are not defined as 'in the core of the organizations' included on Israel's boycott blacklist will not necessarily be stopped, Israeli officials say

An Egyptian shouts anti-Israeli slogans in Cairo, Egypt, April 20, 2015.
AP

When Israel published Sunday a list of 20 groups advocating a boycott of Israel whose members will be denied entry to the country, it did not release a list of such activists who will be denied entry - and according to the Strategic Affairs Ministry, no such list exists. However, it has made clear that leading activists or significant employees of the listed organizations will be targeted for enforcement.

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“The heads and key activists in these organizations are the ones who will not be allowed to enter Israel,” the ministry said. But officials in the Interior Ministry and bureau of Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan told Haaretz that names will indeed be sent to border control for enforcement purposes.

According to these officials, activists who are not defined as “in the core of the organization,” or who are not known to the ministry from public sources, will not necessarily be stopped. The Strategic Affairs Ministry said "If as part of routine questioning carried out by border control personnel, the organizational affinity of the applicant for entry comes up, denial of entry will be considered based on the criteria published on the Interior Ministry website. As well, if an announcement is published of the arrival of activists from organizations defined as banned, they will be turned down if they meet the criteria.”

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Who's on Israel's BDS blacklist

According to the ministry, the list of criteria for the law, which has been posted on the Interior Ministry website, details the possibilities by which entry may still be permitted to Israel, including for humanitarian reasons. This distinction is likely to become significant, for Jewish activists in Jewish Voice for Peace with family in Israel, for example. According to the criteria, groups will be blacklisted if they support “boycotts and their promotion, actively, continuously and continually.”

The list of criteria also clarifies “the fact that an organization is anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian or has a critical agenda toward Israeli government policy, does not, in itself, constitute a reason to deny entry to Israel.”

Denial of entry for activists will be enforced whether they belong to one of the organizations or not, according to the following criteria: 1. Individuals with senior positions or significant roles in the organization, such as board chairman or board members. The definition of the offices in question will vary according to the character of each organization; 2. Key activists who take a consistent and continuous role to promote boycotts within the framework of prominent delegitimization organizations or independently; 3. Institutional officials, such as mayors, who promote such activities in an active and ongoing way; 4. People who arrive in Israel as “representatives of one of the prominent delegitimizing organizations. For example, an activist who arrives as a participant in a delegation from a prominent delegitimization organization.”

Exceptions “will be examined as cases in which the extent of damage by denying entry to an individual [because they promote boycotts] is greater than the usefulness of denying entry.” Such cases might include: 1. Political considerations; 2. Official invitations by the state; 3. Humanitarian considerations; 4. Holders of official positions.”

With regard to Jewish activists who will want to come to Israel as Birthright participants, the ministry said: “Birthright is a joint initiative of the State of Israel and Diaspora Jewry intended to strengthen the relationship of young people in the Diaspora to the State of Israel. Thus, all participants in the program will be allowed to enter Israel.”

As for activists who want to move to Israel, the ministry said: “The right to move to Israel exists for every Jew. The denial of entry law will not withhold this right from any person who is entitled to it in the framework of the Law of Return.”

The Interior Ministry added that requests to move to Israel will be examined on a case by case basis. Haaretz has learned that the Foreign Ministry was not asked for its opinion on the list that was put together.