Interfaith delegation denied entry to Israel
Leaders of an interfaith delegation were stopped from boarding their Israel bound flight. Rabbi Alissa Wise, Alana Krivo-Kaufman from New York, Noah Habeeb, Virginia, of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), along with Shakeel Syed of American Muslims for Palestine based in Los Angeles and Rick Ufford Chase of Presbyterian Peace Fellowship of Rockland County, NY, were denied boarding due to their work for justice towards Palestinians. The groups were specifically targeted for their open support of Palestine asking for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions or BDS on Israel.
The Israeli parliament or Knesset in March passed a bill banning people who gave their support to divestment, sanctions and boycott of Israel until the Palestinians gain complete equal rights. The BDS ban is inclusive of those persons who have personally endorsed products made in Israeli settlements constructed on occupied Palestinian land. These settlements break longstanding U.S. policy and international laws as well. This incident marks the maiden time that the state of Israel has stopped Jews, and a rabbi at that, solely due to political positions adopted by them.
This BDS travel ban is a component of a wider crackdown against those who support non-violent tactics against Israel and hold the latter accountable to the many international laws. The Israel Anti-Boycott Bill is currently under consideration by U.S. Congress. This bill will penalize companies and individuals which boycott any Israeli businesses or financial transactions with the country. Israeli settlements are also covered under the bill. If not complied, penalties can be one million dollars in fines or spending 20 years in incarceration.
Senator Ben Cardin, who is elected from Maryland, and the author of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, said that he is receptive to answer any questions raised by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The latter gave a warning during the first week of July that this measure targeting BDS was unconstitutional. The organization also warned if this bill is passed, it will inhibit free speech. Due to this warning, and after an article published by The Intercept, the bill's co-sponsors have started to question their support to the bill.
According to Cardin, the ACLU misunderstood the legislation. He added he will clarify the bill if it is required to do so. He said that a number of co-sponsors are totally committed to freedom of speech. He added, “If we have to make it clearer, we’ll make it clearer.”