Spanish boycott activist refused entry to Israel

Spanish boycott activist refused entry to Israel

Interior minister says Ana Sanchez Mera is a senior member of an organization that ‘aims to cause great harm’ to the country

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: A BDS protest against Israel in Barcelona, Spain, June 2014. (YouTube screenshot)
Illustrative: A BDS protest against Israel in Barcelona, Spain, June 2014. (YouTube screenshot)

A senior Spanish member of an international organization that encourages boycotts of Israel was denied entry into the country Tuesday, as authorities acted again on a relatively new law that allows the interior minister to deport, or deny entry to, anti-Israel activists.

Ana Sanchez Mera of the BDS National Committee was refused entry into Israel on the instructions of Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, following a recommendation from Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, who is responsible for countering boycott campaigns.

“I once again exercised my authority and prevented the entry of a boycott activist who wanted to enter Israel and act against the state,” Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said in a statement. “This is a senior activist in a prominent boycott organization that aims to cause great damage to Israel… People who come to Israel to encourage boycotts will not be allowed to enter.”

Sanchez backed a decision in Spain’s parliament to defend Israel boycotts, “led demonstrations by the BNC calling for embargoes against Israel, and personally, actively and consistently promoted boycotts against the State of Israel,” the Strategic Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

“The rules have changed, and like any normal country, Israel will not stand idly in the face of those who try to harm it or its citizens,” Erdan said. “Whoever works to promote boycotts against Israel has nothing to look for here. Senior agitators who lead the charge in sowing discord and deepen rifts are not wanted within Israel’s borders.”

According to its website, the BNC was established in 2007 and is the “Palestinian coordinating body for the BDS campaign worldwide.”

“The organization perceives itself as the leader of the global boycott movement and a director of much of the movement’s activities,” the Strategic Affairs ministry said of the BNC, noting that its actions include calling for academic and cultural boycotts of Israel.

The development came less than a week after Dutch activist Lydia de Leeuw was barred from the country in light of her participation in the boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign against Israel, known as BDS.

De Leeuw lived in Gaza and Nablus for several years. She is a board member of Kifaya, an organization that collects donations for Gaza and says it seeks to spread word in the Netherlands on the plight of Gazans under the Israeli blockade — which Israel says is required to stop the terror group Hamas from rearming and attacking it.

Earlier this month, Israeli officials barred Ariel Gold, a Jewish pro-Palestinian activist from entering the country and deported her over her support for a boycott of the country.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

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