In recent months, Israel and its supporters have been ramping up their campaign to suppress BDS activism globally, having failed to prevent this non-violent civil society movement from disseminating information about Israel’s discriminatory regime, continuing acts of dispossession, and unrelenting violations of human rights and international law. Unable to win in open debate, Israeli authorities and their supporters have resorted to coercive measures, including efforts to label BDS “anti-Semitic,” lawsuits (“law fare”) against academic associations and BDS activists, and the promotion of bills in state legislatures and Congress to restrict BDS activity. These lawsuits and bills are generally regarded as meritless, unlikely to pass muster in face of the First Amendment’s protections and the Supreme Court’s past judgements on the right to boycott. But their point is not to honor either law or respect for rights: it is to chill freedom of speech and undermine the exercise of fundamental rights, seeking to intimidate others from joining the boycott campaign.
In Palestine, however, Israel’s repressive apparatus is unconstrained by either law or respect for rights. Not long ago, it reached a new and sinister level, Israeli Minister of Intelligence Yisrael Katz having issued thinly-veiled threats of physically harming leading BDS activists by calling on Israel to engage in “targeted civil eliminations” of BDS leaders. Now, Israel has just imposed an effective travel ban on BDS movement co-founder Omar Barghouti, who spoke at the MLA Convention in 2012 and 2014. This repressive move is being seen as a step towards revoking his residency rights, as Israeli ministers threatened a few weeks ago.
Concerned MLA members, whose actual voters recently voted by a 60% majority for a resolution condemning Israel’s regular violation of the rights of scholars to travel, are encouraged to act immediately by signing the BDS Movement’s appeal to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to take the necessary measures to uphold and protect the rights of Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights defenders who endorse the non-violent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign for Palestinian rights (https://bdsmovement.net/un-appeal).
You can also sign on to Jewish Voice for Peace’s appeal to Secretary of State John Kerry to intervene with the Israeli government and ensure that Barghouti’s residency permit is renewed, travel ban lifted, and that the basic rights of all Palestinians struggling for democracy and freedom be respected (https://org.salsalabs.com/o/301/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=19708).