The ban on entering the country that was imposed on activists from 20 international organizations is a badge of honor for them. For all the differences among these organizations in size, experience and background, and for all the political disagreements among them and with them, they deserve praise. They are successfully sabotaging the tendency to present the Palestinian problem as a purely humanitarian one, or as a symmetrical conflict between two supposedly equal powers.
That this blacklist was prepared by an Israeli ministry already proves one of the organizations claims: Israel isnt a democratic state. A state that has ruled for 50 years already over millions of people who have no right to vote and are denied basic human rights like freedom of movement, the right to earn a living and freedom to demonstrate, doesnt deserve the name democracy, even if its Jewish citizens can write for Haaretz and protest against corruption.
Israels sadistic rule over the Palestinians (including those within the pre-1967 lines) has millions of agents and tools. Human rights organizations cant compete with all the resources of the state, which have been invested in agents and methods of dispossession. So the political call for sanctions and boycotts makes the necessary leap and proposes a single, conclusive and suitable response to Israeli oppression and persecution.
It is unlikely that the Strategic Affairs Ministry bureaucrats deluded themselves that a ban on entering Israel and the occupied territories would stop these organizations from continuing to call for international boycotts and sanctions against Israel, or against the settlements and their produce. After all, the activists base their political analysis and their program for stopping Israeli colonialism on information and testimony from readily available sources, and those sources will continue to be available even without the activists physical presence in the country.
But the authors of this blacklist arent stupid people bent on macho vengeance. They, too, are political thinkers, and they are continuing to prepare the ground for even worse steps – not against foreign nationals, but against the Palestinian people.
Publication of the blacklist puts the countries where these organizations are based to a new test. Israel has been preventing their citizens from entering the West Bank and Gaza Strip (and not just its own sovereign territory) for a long time now, even if they never supported the BDS movement. Its enough for them to be of Palestinian origin and to have relatives and property in the West Bank, or to want to study or teach at educational institutions in the West Bank, for their entry to be banned.
Many of the people who have been denied entry are American or Jordanian citizens. But the United States, Europe and Jordan havent made much effort to defend two basic principles: equal treatment for their citizens regardless of differences in their ethnicity, i.e. Jews versus non-Jews, or differences in the purpose of their visit, i.e. a visit to Ramallah versus a visit to the settlement of Beit El; and symmetrical application of the right of visa-free entry. After all, millions of Israelis enter Europe and Jordan with no problem, including some who were involved in perpetrating war crimes or other violations of international law: pilots, army commanders, settlers.
Donald Trumps America wont be shocked if Jewish members of the pacifist organization Code Pink or Quaker Christians are barred from entering Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. But what about France, England, Norway and other European countries? Several European countries, under pressure from or at the instigation of Israeli and Jewish lobbies, already ban democratic calls for sanctions on Israel due to the disgraceful equation of criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. Its hard to imagine them taking action against the new blacklist.
Israel is taking the international communitys pulse. The measuring device is the sanctions against these organizations, and the goal is our freedom to uproot people, to demolish and steal. In this shrewd manner, Israel is examining how it can deprive the Palestinians of additional basic rights – including through mass expulsions – without the so-called democratic world stopping it.
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