Nobel-winning Quakers vow to keep up campaign after banned from Israel

Nobel-winning Quakers vow to keep up campaign after banned from Israel

Some reportedly surprised over blacklist inclusion of American Friends Service Committee, which helped Jewish refugees during and after Holocaust before adopting BDS policies

Elizabeth Tinker and Noah Smalls install an American Friends Service Committee exhibit at the African American Museum in Philadelphia, Tuesday, January 10, 2017. (AP/Matt Rourke)
Elizabeth Tinker and Noah Smalls install an American Friends Service Committee exhibit at the African American Museum in Philadelphia, Tuesday, January 10, 2017. (AP/Matt Rourke)

A Nobel Peace Prize laureate said it was undeterred by an Israeli move to ban it along with 19 other organizations advocating a boycott of Israel Sunday, as anger over the Israeli blacklist simmered.

American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group that won a Peace Prize in 1947 for assisting World War II refugees, said it would continue to work for “peace and justice.”

“We answered the call for divestment from apartheid South Africa and we have done the same with the call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions from Palestinians who have faced decades of human rights violations,” said Kerri Kennedy, an AFSC official responsible for international programs.

The group was one of 20 included on an Israeli list published Sunday of BDS groups whose members will be banned from entering the country.

Israel said the blacklist, which includes Jewish advocacy group Jewish Voice for Peace, was justified in preventing entry to members of Boycott, Divest and Sanction proponents who aim to harm the country.

According to the website of the AFSC, the group supports a boycott of Israeli settlements but is opposed to boycotting all of Israel.

“In the context of Israel and Palestine AFSC supports the the use of boycott and divestment campaigns targeting only companies that support the occupation, settlements, militarism, or any other violations of international humanitarian or human rights law,” the website reads.

AFSC won its Nobel Prize, which it shared with the British Friends Service Council, for work helping World War II refugees, primarily Jews who were in mixed marriages or were the product of mixed marriages, according to Haaretz.

The paper reported that many were surprised to find the group on the list given its relatively moderate stance.

However the conservative NGO monitor group said AFSC was “among [the] leaders of BDS on US campuses and churches,” and accused it of rejecting normalization of Israel or talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

The Palestinian flag flies over Dublin’s City Hall for first time ever May 9, 2017, following a vote by the city council. (Michael Riordan/Times of Israel)

Other groups also strongly criticized the decision to publish the blacklist. The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign called the move “appalling,” and organization head Fatin al-Tamimi said it would mean she could no longer visit her family in Hebron and Gaza.

“For me as a Palestinian, it means a lot that they are going to ban me from going to see my family and people. It is absolutely horrible,” she told the Irish Times.

Ben Lorber, a campus coordinator for Jewish Voice for Peace, said the move would keep him from being able to make pilgrimages to Jewish sites in Israel.

“Israel will not succeed with this ban in intimidating American Jews away from joining JVP and supporting the BDS movement for justice and equality,” he wrote in the Forward newspaper.

Earlier, JVP executive director Rebecca Vilkomerson responded in a piece published on the Haaretz website, accusing the government of “seeking to intimidate and coerce us into silence.”

Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan announced the list Sunday, saying Israel was going on the offensive against the BDS movement.

“Boycott organizations need to know that Israel will act against them and will not allow [them] to enter its territory in order to harm its citizens,” he said.

Public Security and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan at a Likud party conference in Lod, on December 31, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The groups, considered central to the boycott movement, “operate consistently, continuous and persistently against Israel, by way of pressuring entities, institutes, and countries to boycott Israel,” a ministry statement declared.

“The activities of the organizations are carried out by way of a false propaganda campaign, aimed at undermining Israel’s legitimacy in the world.”

In March 2017, the Knesset amended the Law of Entry to prevent leaders of the BDS movement from being allowed into Israel. The amendment applies to organizations that take consistent and significant action against Israel through BDS, as well as the leadership and senior activists of those groups.

One of the banned organizations, the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, said in a statement that “the publication of this list is part of an increasing effort by the State of Israel to repress the growing movement for Palestinian rights around the globe.”

“We wear this designation as a badge of honor,” added USCPR Executive Director Yousef Munayyer. “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.”

“This blacklist and repressive efforts like it will be mere footnotes in the historic march toward freedom, justice and equality,” he said.

The left-wing New Israel Fund, which was not named on the blacklist, also criticized the ban, saying it was undemocratic.

In a statement, NIF noted that while it does not support the BDS movement, “banning political opposition is the policy of autocracies, not democracies.”

Adalah, an Israeli organization providing legal aid for Arabs, warned that the ban will restrict family visits and family unification for Palestinians in the West Bank.

“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,” said Hassan Jabareen, general director of Adalah.

Adalah General Director Hassan Jabareen seen at the courtroom of the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, November 21, 2017.(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli rights group, B’Tselem, also not on the list, said in response that Israel is trying to impose its policies in the West Bank on the whole world.

“Israel is already used to defining that in the territories there is no legitimate resistance in its eyes,” B’Tselem said in a statement. Now, Israel allows itself the authority to try to define what is legitimate political activities in additional territories outside of its jurisdiction — not only the [Palestinian] territories but throughout the world. The attempt to prevent criticism of the occupation — in the territories, in Israel, or in the world — will not give the occupation a humane appearance, and will not make it less terrible.”


Here is the full list:

United States:
• AFSC (American Friends Service Committee)
• AMP (American Muslims for Palestine)
• Code Pink
• JVP (Jewish Voice for Peace)
• NSJP (National Students for Justice in Palestine)
• USCPR (US Campaign for Palestinian Rights)

• AFPS (The Association France Palestine Solidarité)
• BDS France
• BDS Italy
• ECCP (The European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine)
• FOA (Friends of al-Aqsa)
• IPSC (Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign)
• Norgeׂׂ Palestinakomitee (The Palestine Committee of Norway)
• PGS Palestinagrupperna i Sverige (Palestine Solidarity Association in Sweden)
• PSC (Palestine Solidarity Campaign)
• War on Want
• BDS Kampagne

Latin America
• BDS Chile

South Africa
• BDS South Africa

• BNC (BDS National Committee)

JTA contributed to this report.

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