Americans for Peace Now strongly condemns new Israeli legislation adopted today by the Knesset, which would ban entry to Israel of foreign nationals who support or publicly engage in boycotts of either Israel or West Bank settlements.
APN's President and CEO Debra DeLee said: "This new draconian law is a severe blow to Israeli democracy. It is aimed at a basic civil liberty, the freedom of expression, and will severely harm Israel by keeping out some of its greatest supporters.
"Boycotting and calling for boycotts are legitimate forms of peaceful, political expression protected in any democracy. Passage of this legislation sends a message to the Israeli public and to the world, that as far as the Israeli political establishment is concerned, legitimate political expression is verboten. Such a message will further quash dissent inside Israel and will further portray Israel as a state that betrays the democratic principles upon which it was established.
"The most self-defeating and absurd aspect of this new law is that it applies not only to calls for boycotting Israel but to calls for boycotting Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Many American Jews, staunch supporters of the state of Israel, who are Zionists through and through and care deeply about Israel's future, advocate boycotting the settlements and the occupation because they care so much about Israel.
"This is exactly where Americans for Peace Now is. We are a Zionist, pro-Israel organization, which cares about Israel's future as a democracy and a Jewish state. As such, we oppose the occupation and the settlements and call on our supporters to express this view by boycotting settlements. It would be absurd for the government of Israel to block us from visiting the country we love and care so much about because we chose to express a legitimate view in a legitimate way.
"Personally, as a Jew, as a Jewish community leader who has devoted a large part of my adult life to making Israel a better place, I am heartbroken as I witness the Israeli government and Knesset adopting anti-democratic policies."
"APN fiercely rejects and condemns this outrageous law. It is an ugly stain on Israel. We will challenge it."
For more on this law, see here: http://peacenow.org/entry.php?id=22451#.WL3Cy_krKUk