Banning NGO’s that support the BDS movement is a desperate attempt to silence human rights defenders.
The bans and blacklists that we face today are only a shadow of what Palestinians endure every single day. This year we remember that it is 70 years since more than 800,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced from their homes; they are still denied their right to return by Israel.
Over these seven decades, Israel has imposed travel bans, evictions, and home demolitions that have become part of daily life for Palestinian families. So are arbitrary arrest and detention without trial, collective punishment, violence, and torture without redress.
Israel’s “BDS blacklist,” published in the Israeli media on Sunday, bans 20 charities and human rights groups from entering the country, because they support the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement — a campaign that holds Israel to account over violations of Palestinian rights and international law.
This repressive move is borrowed straight from the playbook of South Africa’s apartheid regime, which had the same aim of silencing critics. Ultimately, Israel’s blacklist will fail, just as South Africa’s did. But first and foremost, the ban calls for a robust condemnation from people of conscience around the world — and the UK government, which continues to conduct “business as usual” with Israel. [As does the US government.]
As one of the blacklisted organizations, War on Want is in good company, alongside groups such as the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Jewish Voice for Peace and the American Friends Service Committee — a US Quaker group awarded a Nobel peace prize in 1947 for assisting people persecuted by the Nazis.
Barring foreign advocates of human rights and international law is the latest in a string of increasingly frantic attempts to gag critics of the Israeli government’s unjust and illegal policies, and to intimidate the growing global movement in defence of Palestinian rights.
Israel is not alone in this. Leaders of rightwing governments, from Narendra Modi to Donald Trump, are increasingly resorting to authoritarian measures for the purposes of political censorship. Yet grassroots opposition shows that a deep and abiding will exists to defend free speech and civil liberties.