“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”
— Cornel West
Last month, President Trump announced his administration’s reckless, one-sided decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and eventually move the US embassy there. Now the administration is threatening to cut off US aid to the Palestinians — a move that would have disastrous consequences for the Palestinian refugees who depend on it.
“The AFSC helped thousands of people in the United States transfer small amounts of money to loved ones in French concentration camps, [and helped] hundreds of children, including Jewish refugees and the children of Spanish Republicans, come to the United States under the care of the US Committee for the Care of European Children in 1941–42.”
— US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Last Sunday, Israel revealed their list of 20 social justice groups from around the world it was henceforth banning from the country because of their support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. For me, the list represented more than just another news item of the day. As staff person for one organization included on the list — the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) — this news struck home personally as well as professionally
As a rabbi who works for AFSC, I’m proud of the important historical connections between Jewish community and this venerable Quaker organization. As the US Holocaust Memorial Museum itself has noted, AFSC was at the forefront of efforts to help and rescue Jewish refugees after 1938, “assisting individuals and families in need . . . helping people flee Nazi Europe, communicate with loved ones, and adjust to life in the United States.”
“May we look upon our treasures, and the furniture of our houses, and the garments in which we array ourselves, and try whether the seeds of war have nourishment in these our possessions.”
— 17th-Century Quaker abolitionist John Woolman
Yesterday the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) was included on a list of 20 organizations whose staff may be denied entry to Israel because of their support for the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.
Motivated by Quaker belief in the worth and dignity of all people, AFSC has supported and joined in nonviolent resistance for over 100 years. We answered the call for divestment from apartheid in South Africa, and we have done the same with the call for BDS from Palestinians who have faced decades of human rights violations.
Throughout our history, we have stood with communities facing oppression and violence around the world. In 1947 we were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in part for our support for Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust. We will continue our legacy of speaking truth to power and standing for peace and justice without exception in Israel, occupied Palestine, and around the world.
“This move is reminiscent of South Africa’s apartheid regime which also prepared blacklists in order to punish people and prevent the entry of those opposed to its racist policies.”
— Hassan Jabareen, of the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel
The prominent British campaign group War on Want has been listed as one of 20 foreign NGOs whose representatives are banned from visiting Israel over their support of the pro-Palestinian boycott, sanctions and divestment (BDS) movement.
The publication of the list, which also includes a well-known Jewish anti-occupation group and a Nobel peace prize-winning US Quaker group, had been threatened for months by Israel.
The organizations were singled out by Israel’s rightwing strategic affairs and public security minister, Gilad Erdan, for advocating boycotts of Israel over its treatment of Palestinians.
Human rights groups condemned the move as an assault on free speech. A number of individuals have been refused entry into Israel in recent months, including a prominent African theologian and official of the World Council of Churches.
“When Israel, which aims to portray itself to the world as liberal and democratic, blacklists activists dedicated to nonviolent organizing and dissent, it only further exposes itself as a fraud.”
— Yousef Munayyer, the director of the Campaign for Palestinian Rights
Israel on Sunday published a blacklist of 20 organizations, including a Jewish group in the United States, whose leaders it has barred from entering the country for supporting an economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel.
The list was drawn up under a nearly year-old law enacted to combat the so-called boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which Israelis overwhelmingly oppose, consider anti-Semitic and view as calling for the country’s destruction.
Supporters of the pressure strategy favor the boycott of Israel until it ends the occupation of the West Bank, provides full equality under the law to Palestinian citizens of Israel and grants a right of return to Palestinian refugees. But refugees number in the millions, and their return would probably spell the end of Israel as a Jewish state.