BDS activists in Berlin.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A decision to stop anti-Israeli organizations and individuals from entering Israel will do more harm than good to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and will hamper dialogue between the two sides, Africans for Peace head coordinator Klaas Mokgomole says.
“Most of the people who are involved in the whole Israel- Palestine debate lack firsthand experience,” he told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. “Now, when you prevent people from visiting the land that can expose them to the truth, you are actually creating more confusion, as they will not be able to get clarity on a number of issues. In fact, the Israeli government will be helping the BDS groups and other anti-Israeli organizations to fulfill their goal. Anti-Israeli groups have been preaching hatred and asking people not to go to Israel. Now the Israeli government will be promoting and condoning this gospel, which anti-Israel groups preach.”
Mokgomole, a former BDS South Africa member, said it was his coming to Israel in 2015 “and learning to understand the conflict very well that changed my mind and stance. I know a number of my comrades who were lost in the dark until they went to Israel and got to understand the conflict at length. We need to allow people to visit Israel so that they can understand the issues at length. Already, the media is feeding people fake news and hatred toward Israel.”
Last week, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, in cooperation with the Interior Ministry, published a blacklist www.jpost.com/BDS-THREAT/Israel-lists-international-pro-BDS-organizations-to-be-banned-from-country-533031
of some 20 organizations, whose members will be barred from entering the country.
However, a Strategic Affairs Ministry official told the Post
that “the regulation is aimed at central figures in key boycott organizations and does not make any distinction between individuals on the basis of their country of origin, ethnicity or religion. Only those who demonstrate ongoing, consistent, and significant action to promote the boycott against the State of Israel will be considered. It is important to note that all countries have the right to deny entrance to foreign nationals, and do in fact do so based on various criteria. Israel, like all other democracies, will deny entrance to organizations and individuals working to undermine and harm Israel’s national security.”
The official also highlighted that the regulation “explicitly excludes political criticism of Israel as a criterion for consideration in naming an organization,” adding that anyone who is banned will not be granted entry to Israel at any of its borders.
BDS South Africa said that “it echoes the sentiment of our partner organizations, which have also been added to the Israeli ‘blacklist,’ who have termed this latest move by Israel as a sign of the regime’s increasing desperation and a reflection of the success of the BDS movement. If anything, with this blacklist and barring of people, Israel – like Apartheid South Africa – is isolating and BDS-ing itself!”
In response to the resolution, the African National Congress’s Western Cape branch said the move “was an attack on South Africans” and South Africa’s ruling party. It said that the blacklist “of those who support the BDS movement has only encouraged us to increase our support for the Palestinian struggle and Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions movement. The list singles out BDS South Africa, an organization of South African citizens and many of whom are ANC members. In the ANC-led South Africa many of our ministers and other senior government officials, including members of Parliament, premiers, mayors and others, are vocal, public supporters of Palestine and many have addressed BDS events.”
On Monday, Wendy Kahn, national director of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, said, “We can agree or disagree whether a sovereign country has a right to determine their policies of admission, but to contend that Israel’s decision not to welcome BDS activists into their borders is ‘an attack on South Africans’ is an ironic inversion of reality.”
Kahn said that the “ANC’s depiction of BDS South Africa as a ‘peaceful human rights organization’ cannot be further from the truth.
“The ongoing antisemitic incidents at their protests and activities expose their hatred for Jewish South Africans,” she said. “If anyone is attacking South Africans, it is BDS SA and the ANC Western Cape statement merely exposes their hypocrisy. It is time that they are concerned for all South Africans, not just the ones that conform to their narrative on Israel.”