My Country Bars Enemies from Entry. Yours Would Do the Same

By Naftali Bennett

New York Times

January 27, 2018


Since its founding in 1948, Israel has fought a war nearly every decade. Now, in addition to continuing to defend ourselves against physical attack from neighbors who fundamentally reject our existence, we have been forced to battle a new enemy.

This one lacks tanks and missiles, but it, too, poses a serious threat to the Jewish state. And we aren’t hesitating to fight back.

The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel officially began in 2005 with a call from some 170 Palestinian organizations. But B.D.S. is a new name for an age-old strategy: demonizing and delegitimizing the Jewish people. By exploiting the language of human rights and distorting history, the movement aims to make the case that the Jewish state doesn’t have a right to exist in the Middle East.

B.D.S. leaders wage political, economic and legal warfare to hurt Israeli individuals and companies wherever they can: on college campuses, in labor unions and even in churches. They say they are interested in promoting peace and merely aim to criticize Israeli policies.

But Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of the movement, has made its intentions clear: “Definitely, most definitely, we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian, will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine,” he has said. In other words, B.D.S. leaders themselves make no attempt to hide that their goal is not changing Israeli policy, but eliminating the country.

Like any normal democracy, Israel has as its No. 1 priority defending its citizens. Barring those seeking our destruction from entering our territory is almost an obvious step. All sovereign states decide who can or cannot enter their territory.

Thus Israel last March passed legislation giving immigration authorities the ability to deny entry to those active in the B.D.S. campaign. This month, the government published a list of groups it considered prominent in the campaign, including the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, B.D.S. Italy and Jewish Voice for Peace, and it gave immigration authorities the option of barring individuals active in such groups.

The logic behind this new policy is sound: We won’t welcome enemy soldiers into our territory. If you actively work for our destruction, which these individuals most certainly do, you can’t come into our home.

Some are framing this new policy as a blanket ban of certain groups. But this is another case of the B.D.S. movement spreading lies. The law gives the immigration authorities the option to ban individuals; it doesn’t mandate they do so.

Here is the truth: Similar procedures are common practice in most democratic countries. In the United States, for instance, the I-94W form (issued by the Department of Homeland Security) asks visitors if they have criminal records, if they were involved in espionage or if they helped Nazi Germany. If the answer to any of these questions is positive, that person may be refused entry. The same principles guided Israel’s decision.

Let me be absolutely clear: Israel is a thriving democracy and we welcome people who disagree with our policies. If you oppose the settlements and want to debate the future of Judea and Samaria, otherwise known as the West Bank, I welcome you to come and learn firsthand about the reality on the ground.

But the B.D.S. movement does not oppose specific Israeli policies or its current government. The goal is to wipe Israel off the map. Its website refers to a struggle happening “for nearly 70 years.” This timeline sends us back to 1948 and Israel’s inception, not to policy debates about borders stemming from the Six Day War in 1967. The conclusion is easy: The movement is not about the future of Judea and Samaria. It is about Tel Aviv and Haifa, and its leadership wants nothing short of our destruction.

The movement’s leaders don’t hide their goals, and some of their organizations even collaborate with convicted terrorists in their attempts to destroy Israel. Jewish Voice for Peace is one example. Last April, it featured Rasmea Odeh as a speaker at its national meeting. Ms. Odeh murdered innocent Israelis in 1969. She is a convicted terrorist found guilty of immigration fraud by an American court after concealing her role in two bombings in Israel. Yet the executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace said that the group was “honored to hear from her.”

While B.D.S. activists try to hide behind the mask of “human rights,” more and more people understand the truth: The movement is anti-Israel and anti-peace. Several American states have passed anti-B.D.S. laws and resolutions. Cities in Spain, Germany and other European countries have also acted against the movement. These places refuse to accept bids for contracts from companies supporting the movement, and some stopped doing business with European banks involved in the campaign. They understand that opposing B.D.S. means standing up for peace.

Israel’s decision to expose those out to hurt us sends a clear message: Those who seek our destruction are not welcome in our home. Any other country in a similar situation would do the same.