Annual Study Tour Canceled - Letter to Prospective Participants

*On April 20, 2017, APN sent the following letter to prospective Israel Study Tour participants notifying them of the decision to cancel the tour. See also the media coverage of this story in Haaretz and the Jewish Telegraph Agency:

4/24/17 JTA: Americans for Peace Now cancels annual Israel trip over anti-boycott law

4/23/17 Haaretz: First Jewish – American Group Cancels Trip to Israel Over Travel Ban Against Boycott Supporters

Dear [prospective participant]

With a heavy heart, we are writing to let you know that we have decided to suspend our 2017 Israel Study Tour, pending clarifications from the government of Israel regarding the new “Entry Law,” which could be used to deny entry into Israel to individuals and organizations that publicly support boycotting settlement products.

We are therefore canceling our planned June tour. We do not know yet whether we will reschedule this tour to another date this year or whether we’ll have to suspend our Israel Study Tour program indefinitely, until the law is either revoked, amended or applied in a way that does not impact APN, its staff members, Board members and activists.

As you know, our 2017 tour was scheduled for June 3-8. Early last month, the Knesset passed a new law, dubbed the “Entry Law” or the “Boycott Law,” which stipulates that non-Israeli individuals or individuals affiliated with non-Israeli organizations who have publicly called for boycotting either Israel or Israeli state institutions, or West Bank settlements, will be denied entry to the State of Israel. The law has not yet been instituted, but we expect it to be in place come June.

APN has contacted the Israeli government seeking clarifications as to the precise guidelines for applying the law. We were told that the modalities of this legislation are to be discussed internally, among the relevant government agencies.

Recognizing that further clarifications were not likely to be provided soon, we came to the conclusion that we cannot take the risk of planning and executing a tour to Israel, which could be thwarted by Israeli officials turning away APN staff or Board members, or any of our tour participants.

This law is an outrage. As we stated in our press release shortly after it was adopted, the law is a stain on Israeli democracy. It betrays the democratic principles upon which Israel was established. Although hard to believe, there is a possibility that the Israeli authorities, striving to minimize anti-occupation protest in June, the 50th “anniversary” of the occupation, might choose a broad interpretation of the law and deny entry to individuals affiliated with APN, such as APN tour participants.

APN staunchly opposes boycotting Israel or Israeli institutions, but we do call for boycotting West Bank settlements. We view it as a legitimate way to express our opposition to the settlements and to the occupation of the West Bank.

For our background and analysis of the bill, see here.

For an analysis by Israel’s leading national security think tank, see here.

We don’t know yet whether we will be able to reschedule the 2017 Israel Study Tour. We frankly don’t know when the circumstances may be created – either politically, bureaucratically or through court action or – which will allow us to schedule another Study Tour.

B'Shalom,

Debra DeLee

President and CEO

Americans for Peace Now

 

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