New Knesset Law Will Not Bar Entry to Israel Critics: Minister

The Israeli government has established a team of experts to decide in what way to implement the new Knesset law banning people or members of organizations who call for boycotts of Israel or the settlements from entering the country, Minister of Public Security (Likud) Gilad Erdan told Jewish Insider.

“I can assure you that the way that we implement it will make a difference between people who only criticize Israel or have a different attitude to what is happening here,” Erdan said in a phone interview on Friday. 

The new law drew immediate criticism from left-wing and centrist Jewish American groups alike, who warned that it would be unhelpful to fighting BDS and further isolate Israel. “We are deeply invested in fighting scourge of BDS and delegitimization. This law doesn’t help,” the ADL tweeted on Wednesday. “As history has amply shown throughout the democratic world, barring entry to otherwise qualified visitors on the basis of their political views will not by itself defeat BDS, nor will it help Israel’s image as the beacon of democracy in the Middle East it is, or offer opportunities to expose them to the exciting and pulsating reality of Israel,” AJC CEO David Harris said in a statement.

But according to the Israeli cabinet minister, the new law is “not as strict” as it sounds. 

“To criticize Israel is legitimate. We believe that there are no reasons to criticize Israel, but like every country, sometimes not everyone will agree with what we do or what we say, and anyone can criticize Israel if that’s what they believe that they should do,” Erdan explained. “But there is a huge, huge difference between arguing and talking and the way that those movements and activists that want to delegitimize and isolate Israel are acting. They want to destroy Israel as the state of the Jewish people. And that is something totally different.” 

Activists and supporters of the BDS movement, according to Erdan, come to Israel to gather information and intelligence only to manipulate it and show part of the picture to damage Israel’s image in the world. “ I think that every normal country would act to stop such people from entering their country to damage it from within,” said Erdan. 

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