Israel made itself a pariah by barring me and my fellow activists

(photo: Getty Images)

The author with roots in Palestine speaks to her exile from her family’s homeland.

By Ariel Gold | The Forward | Jan 7, 2018

As BDS grows, builds and succeeds, Israel becomes more and more desperate to contain it. The latest effort is this blacklist. . . . By blacklisting organizations and banning even Jews and Quakers who take principled stances to support Palestinian human rights, Israel is isolating itself even further.

As a Jewish mother, one of the most important things to me is to instill in my children a sense of Jewish identity and values. For my now 15- and 16-year-old children, this has over the years included Tot-Shabbat at our synagogue, Hebrew school, Jewish summer camp and even Jewish youth group trips to Israel.

As a family, our history dates back to Rabbi Joseph Karo of 14th-Century Palestine, writer of the Shulchan Aruch (the codification of Jewish religious law). In 2015, I took my children to visit Karo’s grave, in the holy Jewish city of Safed. It was the most prominent grave in the cemetery. My son, daughter and I placed stones at the gravesite of the ancient rabbi our family descends from and said a short prayer.

But our identity as a Jewish family manifests in another way, too: in the responsibility to think critically and act as effectively and morally as possible. This means a commitment to ending the human rights abuses Israel commits against Palestinians.

For this reason, I had decided that in between my son’s bar and my daughter’s bat mitzvah, I would take them to see both the ancient sites of our Jewish faith and the current reality of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. From traveling to Safed and to a family reunion in Tel Aviv to touring the segregated city of Hebron and meeting with the Tamimi family in Nabi Saleh, it was one of the most important and educational things I have ever done to honor and continue my family’s Jewish identity.

But 2015 may have been be the last time I am able to visit those sites. On Saturday, the Israeli government released a blacklist of 20 organizations banned from entering Israel due to their support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

CODEPINK, the women-led grassroots anti-war organization, of which I am the co-director, was among those included.

Sadly, I am not surprised at Israel’s undemocratic, unprincipled and cowardly fiat. Indeed Israel’s entire existence is predicated on and constructed around such exclusion.

Since 1948, Palestinian refugees, whose descendants now number in the millions, have been refused the right to return to their homes and lands, which were seized from them during the establishment of Israel. Over the last seven decades, as Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands has expanded, Israel has met criticism of its widely understood illegal actions by refusing entry to more and more activists and critics, to include Jews like myself.

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