New York Times Blasts Israel Over Travel Ban of Boycott Supporters: 'Unjust and Counterproductive'

Banning dissenters casts 'Israel as hostile to anyone who disagrees with the occupation and settlements, encouraging louder calls for boycotts'

U.S. President Donald Trump greeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington, U.S., February 15, 2017.
Kevin Lamarque/REUTERS

The New York Times Editorial board blasted Israel's new sweeping travel ban against supporters of boycott against it or the settlements, calling it "unjust and counterproductive," in a scathing editorial published Thursday.

The new law, approved by Knesset on Monday, will deny entry into Israel to foreign nationals openly calling for boycotts against Israel or its settlements in the West Bank. The interior minister would be able to make exceptions to this rule if he deems it warranted in a particular case.

The new law is counterproductive because it "projects an image of Israel as hostile to anyone who disagrees with the occupation and settlements, encouraging louder calls for boycotts every time a visitor is turned back at the airport," says the Times.

In the editorial, titled "Israel Says Dissenters Are Unwelcome," the paper calls the new law a "strong statement by the Israeli right wing, intended to characterize supporters of the movement as enemies of Israel." The Times does say the new law "changes little on the ground," as the border authorities already had the authority to refuse entry to those who are considered hostile to Israel.

A number of major Jewish organizations in the U.S., including the Anti-Defamation League, have also spoken out strongly against the law, 

The Times also linked U.S. President Donald Trump to the affair, saying: "Unfortunately, the Israelis who called for barring advocates of B.D.S. seem emboldened by the Trump administration."

"An American president who has closed doors to Muslim refugees may not be in a position to question the Israeli law," concluded the editorial board.     

The new law would deprive Israel of one of its most compelling responses to its critics, which has always been to urge them to come and see the country for themselves. "The new law, by contrast, proclaims, 'You’re with us or against us,'” says the Times.