Advocacy groups vowed to continue their fight for peace and justice on Sunday after the Israeli government announced they are banned from the country for their support of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement known as BDS.
"By banning the leaders of peace organizations like CODEPINK, Israel is isolating itself even further as an apartheid state," said Ariel Gold, national director of CODEPINK. "Their BDS blacklist is contrary to democratic principles and Jewish values. As an American Jew, I am proud of my work to challenge Israel's policies of repression. I will not give up the fight."
"We have shifted from defense to offense," said Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan. "The boycott organizations need to know that the State of Israel will act against them and not allow [them] to enter its territory to harm its citizens."
In addition to CODEPINK, the US-based groups on the list include the Nobel Peace Prize-winning American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), American Muslims for Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), National Students for Justice in Palestine, and US Campaign for Palestinian Rights. Among the European organizations on the list are War on Want and Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
According to JVP executive director Rebecca Vilkomerson, the development "is disconcerting but not surprising, given the further erosion of democratic norms as well as rising anxiety about the power of BDS as a tool to demand freedom. JVP members are now joining Palestinians as well as Muslims from around the world, people of color, and other activists who are often barred from entry."
For CODEPINK member Nancy Kricorian, being included on the list is actually a source of pride.
"As I read through the names of groups now banned from entering Israel because of their advocacy for Palestinian rights," she said in a statement, "I thought that this list was rather a roll of honor. Israel's desperate attempt to counter the BDS movement with this latest blacklist, along with the millions of dollars they are spending on internet trolling and propaganda campaigns, will not stop our principled support of equality and justice for the Palestinian people."