Opposition slams ‘idiotic’ BDS-activist ban
Opposition party leaders came out against Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan’s banning members of boycott organizations from entering Israel, in their faction meetings on Monday.
Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni said the bill won’t help fight BDS, and it only helps Erdan politically.
“I have been fighting boycotts for my entire political career by talking to leaders. That is what we should do,” she argued at a Zionist Union faction meeting.
On Sunday, Erdan published a list of 20 organizations calling to boycott Israel whose senior members will be banned from entering the country, in accordance with a law passed last year.
Livni said: “Israel is beautiful. Israel has equality. Let [boycott advocates] see it! Keeping them out only expands the gap between Israel’s image and the reality.”
Zionist Union chairman Avi Gabbay added: “I don’t understand the concept. If BDS hurts us abroad, why can’t they be here? If they’re here, they can’t hurt us there.”
Livni, in a way answering Gabbay’s question, later explained that she thinks keeping boycott activists out of the country is pointless, giving the example of Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi, a longtime social-media star among anti-Israel activists, who was arrested for physically assaulting an IDF soldier.
“We support anything that will really fight BDS, but in a world where everything is open, a girl can film herself with a soldier. We just need to learn how to deal with it – we need to do things that will help,” Livni said.
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid claimed that he has been leading the fight against BDS in recent years, but said the move is unwise.
Lapid pointed out that the members of Jewish Voice for Peace, one of the organizations on the list, are Jewish, so they can immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return anyway.
“BDS activists are a detestable bunch, but this is an idiotic law,” he stated. “We should fight boycotts with another boycott?” Erdan responded that the opposition MKs’ criticisms “prove their lack of understanding of the subject, and their inability to lead Israel.”
“Boycott activists come here to hurt Israel and try to harm its citizens, not as tourists who are coming to see the view,” Erdan added. “Whoever continues letting them into Israel exposes Israeli citizens to harm.”