Israel ban weakness, not strength
Israel’s blanket ban on entry for anyone backing the peaceful boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) campaign illustrates weakness, not strength.
It indicates that Tel Aviv understands that it is losing the argument internationally and can respond only with repression.
Among 28 Knesset members voting against this measure was Ayman Odeh of the Israeli Communist Party’s Democratic Front for Peace and Equality, who was elected an MP on the Arab Joint List.
He described seeing thousands of Jewish people in the US a fortnight ago demonstrating against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and supporting a boycott of illegal Jewish settlements there.
Until recently US Jews would have avoided such a stance like the plague. They believed Israeli government claims that the only impediment to a mutually agreed two-state solution was violence by Palestinian extremists.
The scales have fallen from their eyes concerning the brutality suffered by Palestinians at the hands of the military occupation and armed settlers and Israel’s clear intention of colonising the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, to negate the possibility of an independent Palestinian state.
President Reuven Rivlin’s call last month for full annexation of the West Bank, coupled with a totally unacceptable offer of conditional citizenship for Palestinians, lays bare what pro-Palestinian campaigners have long insisted was the long-term zionist goal.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was taken aback by Barack Obama’s parting gift in December when he allowed a UN Security Council resolution demanding an end to construction of illegal Israeli settlements to pass without a US veto.
Donald Trump favours a blank cheque for Israel, but more sober heads in his administration have already influenced him to warn Israel against annexation and call settlement expansion “not helpful.”
However, there is growing pressure within the US to breathe fresh life into an Anti-Semitism Awareness Act.
It poses as a necessary antidote to anti-Semitism but its real motivation is to stifle growing criticism of Israel, especially on university campuses.
The intention of its backers is that it should play a similar role to the media-encouraged “anti-Semitism” propaganda wave directed against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party by the Jewish Labour Movement, formerly known as Poale Zion.
More insidious than this campaign to censor pro-Palestinian support is media self-censorship. Graffiti artist Banksy, whose activities are usually media magnets, opened his own Walled Off hotel in Bethlehem at the weekend.
Every window in the hotel, which is plastered with Banksy works, gives out onto Israel’s apartheid wall. One room is designed to look like a room on a military base.
The artist wants his business to become a safe place for young Israelis and Palestinians to meet and talk. Where was Britain’s mass media? Is Banksy no longer news?
Even more shockingly, the honorary video guest playing at its opening was Elton John, who told those gathered in the hotel: “I would’ve loved to have been with you all tonight but, you know, there wasn’t any room at the inn.”
When did guest appearances, albeit remotely, by Elton John cease to be newsworthy for Britain’s media? He told the Palestinian people:
“It’s my great pleasure to be playing in Palestine this evening. Please know that you are not alone. You are not forgotten.”
In the wake of last week’s Israeli Apartheid Week activities in Britain, that message has to be repeated loud and clear.