Israel denies entry to Jewish-American boycott activist

Aipac lobbyists declared an open war against BDS, designating it as its top priority

Dubai: Israel has denied entry to a Jewish-American activist for advocating boycotts of the Jewish state.

Israel’s immigration authority says the activist, Ariel Gold, arrived to Israel Sunday and was refused entry at the airport. Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said “whoever works consistently for a boycott against Israel will not enter here.”

Gold is the national co-director of CODEPINK, a group that advocates for boycotts over Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

In a statement, the group said Gold was held for seven hours before being flown back to the US, where she will arrive Monday.

Israel has been battling a grassroots movement calling for boycotts, sanctions and divestment.

It has previously barred entry to other activists.

Israel recognises the threat of leftist and grassroots movements dedicated at economically boycotting Israel for its illegal occupation of Palestinian territories.

It has dedicated massive resources through its powerful lobby group, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), which has paid off US Congressmen, to ensure that such groups such as Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) be stopped, fearing their campaigning could have a catastrophic effect on the Israeli economy and Israel’s image on the world stage.

This year, Aipac lobbyists declared an open war against BDS, designating it as its top priority.

The US Congress has historically been pro-Israel, given the resources and effort that Aipac pours into its lobbying efforts but this year, it seemingly has taken the most draconian step against BDS, when the Senate introduced bill S720, known as the Anti-Israel Boycott Act, which aims to bar the boycott of Israel for its oppressive policies against Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank.

The bill, drafted almost entirely by Aipac itself, so far has the backing of 43 Senators and 234 House members.

Needless to say, the bill is viewed by civil rights groups as an egregious attack on the First Amendment, which guarantees free speech, and if passed, will have a chilling effect on anyone who dares to speak out against Israel’s illegal actions in Occupied Palestine.

The law proposes fines ranging from $250,000 to $1 million (Dh3.67 million), and 20 years in prison, on anyone deemed to be critical of Israel and its policies or speaking in favour of Palestinian rights.

Since 2014, when Aipac began its campaign, 11 US states already passed legislation criminalising boycott efforts against Israel.

Omar Barghouti, a Palestinian human rights activist and the author of Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights penned an opinion piece in 2014 in the New York Times, where he states, “The Israeli government’s view of BDS as a strategic threat reveals its heightened anxiety at the movement’s recent spread into the mainstream.”


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