Israel Won't Reveal Names of Organizations on BDS Blacklist

Minister says the list, meant to bar boycott activists from Israel, is not yet in complete, but the parameters have already been determined

People hold signs calling for BDS at an anti-corruption protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, December 23, 2017.
Tomer Appelbaum

Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan refused to reveal which organizations will be included on the blacklist his ministry is drawing up in order to prevent BDS activists from entering Israel. Erdan explained that the list has been completed and has not been put to use. He added that his ministry presently prevents boycott, divestment and sanctions movement activists from entering the country on an individual basis, and examines each case separately.

Erdan’s explanation came in reply to a query submitted by lawmaker Mossi Raz (Meretz) demanding that the list be disclosed. “Because the list is still in the process of being prepared, it hasn’t been used as of yet,” he answered. “At this point, as long as there’s no final list, the cases are examined ad hoc and the ministry’s recommendation is given based on the data received.”

In response Raz charged that refusal to disclose which groups were on the list was deliberate concealment by Erdan because the list’s “extent of legitimacy is in doubt.” Raz, who has submitted two questions on the subject in recent months, said that “The lack of transparency on the matter stinks to high heaven. Although I asked twice which organizations are on the list and what sanctions will be imposed, Erdan chose to avoid replying.”

Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan at the Knesset, December 24, 2017.
Hadas Parush/Flash90

Replying to Raz, Erdan said that “the policy, in the case of organizations that are de facto promoting the delegitimization of Israel, is still in the process of being drawn up.” He noted that the list will include organizations that support and promote boycotts in an “active and continuous manner.”

A joint team from the Strategic Affairs and Interior ministries has already determined the parameters that will serve as a basis for barring activists from coming into the country. Those who hold senior or important positions in blacklisted organizations will be denied entry, as well as key activists, even if they hold no official position. Mayors and establishment figures who actively and continually promote boycotts will also be prevented from entering, as will activists who arrive to Israel on behalf of or as part of a delegation initiated by one of blacklisted groups.

“The fact that an organization is anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian, or is critical of the policy of the Israeli government, does not in itself constitute a reason to prevent entry into Israel,” the criteria clarified. The Population Authority will have the ability to bring banned activists into Israel based on diplomatic considerations, official invitations from representatives of the state, humanitarian considerations or the fact that they also hold other official positions.

”Instead of dealing with the root of the problem, the occupation, the ministers are using up public resources to create a list of the kind that McCarthy could have signed,” said Raz, referring to U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy's campaign of political repression. “It’s clear that there’s an attempt here to pour oil on the bonfire of delegitimization of the Israeli left and to collect votes based on polarizing and dividing Israeli society. Democracy is also the understanding that everyone has freedom to express any political opinion, as long as it does not include incitement. The attempt to silence opinions that don’t accord with the ultranationalist views of Erdan and [Interior Ministe Arye] Dery is another crack in the democratic values of the State of Israel.”