For Immediate Release
January 12, 2018
Local chapter members react to Israeli blacklisting of Jewish Voice for Peace, affirm their support for Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions targeting Israeli state despite risk of travel ban.
Late last week, Israel revealed a blacklist of organizations that support BDS, the boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign which aims to end the decades-long illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. Israel says it will bar leaders and activists in these organizations from entering the country.
“We can’t say we were surprised that our organization, Jewish Voice for Peace, was placed on this list since several members had already been previously barred from entering Israel,” said William Singer, a long-time Portland member of the local chapter. “This merely reinforces our conviction both that the BDS movement is growing in importance and effectiveness, and that the Israeli state’s image as a vibrant democracy is crumbling to reveal the corruptions and criminality that Palestinians have long experienced and recognized.”
Singer said that he hopes this travel ban will encourage greater compassion among those directly affected, as well as friends and family, towards the many people who have been so much more seriously impacted by the US travel ban targeting Muslims. “I don’t want to minimize the deeply emotional impact this will have on people with close family connections in Israel and on those whose solidarity work involves travel to the occupied territories, which will also be restricted by this travel ban,” said Singer. “We just have to emphasize that these restrictions pale in significance when compared to the suffering inflicted upon the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza each and every hour, restrictions on travel, housing, access to healthcare, and the ever-present threat of violence and death.”
Israeli soldiers killed two Palestinian teenagers in recent days as the teenagers protested the announcement that the US will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (Ha’aretz, Jan. 11, 2018).
Others in the Portland chapter also felt there were implications beyond how the ban would affect individuals. “I don’t have any close friends or family in Israel, so the blacklist doesn’t affect me in an immediate sense,” said Adam Segal, another JVP-Portland member. “However, it does reinvigorate my sense that my work with JVP is necessary and just.” Segal believes the ban reveals some important truths. “We hear often the defense of Israel that it is the “only democracy in the middle east,” and yet I have to wonder what sort of democracy feels the need to actively ban its critics from entry,” Segal explained. “I do want safety and prosperity for Israelis, but I also insist on justice for Palestinians and accountability for an Israeli government that persists in defying international law.”
“Boycotts have been a time-honored means in many struggles for liberation and social justice,” explained Carol Landsman, another member of JVP-Portland. “Whether it was the Montgomery Bus Boycott of the Civil Rights movement here in the US in the 1950s or the divestment campaigns targeting South Africa apartheid in the 1970s and 80s, people of conscience have adopted these nonviolent tactics to bring about meaningful, significant and lasting social change,” said Landsman.
The travel ban targeting JVP and other organizations is seen as part of a broader strategy to attack and weaken the growing BDS movement in the US. Earlier this week, members of JVP-Portland and other local groups testified in the Portland City Council meeting calling on the commissioners and the mayor to speak out against anti-BDS legislation that is now making its way through the US Congress.