Michael Savage – a far-right radio host, along with Erich Gleibe – of the ‘National Alliance’, and Mike Guzovsky – a follower of Meir Kahane — have all been banned from entering Great Britain, a paragon of democracy, on the grounds that they “[engage] in unacceptable behavior by justifying terrorist violence… and fostering racial hatred.” Islamic preacher Yunis al Astal, Anti-western television personality Safwat Hijazi, and Pakistani extremist Nasr Javed have also been banned on similar grounds. In March, the Netherlands – whose democratic credentials are beyond question – barred Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu from entry, on the grounds that he had come to Holland to advocate for a political agenda that the Dutch government rightly found repugnant. Luke Angel, a British teenager who, in a drunken fit, sent an abusive email to President Barack Obama, has been banned for life from entering these United States of America. The “ideological exclusion provision” of the US Patriot Act – in force under the Obama administration – has been cited as grounds for denying entry to radical Islamist activists.
But, like on so many occasions, the same measures widely considered reasonable and legitimate when taken by any other country are suddenly condemned and reviled when taken by Israel. If even a metal detector becomes a ‘reckless provocation’ when an Israeli installs it, what hope is there for anything more robust? It is an established principle of democracies around the world that the right of their citizens to freedom of speech and freedom of opinion does not entail the right of foreign agents to enter the country with the purpose of challenging its legitimacy and undermining its existence. Israel need be no exception.
Certain key leaders of “BDS” organizations (the entry-denial policy obviously doesn’t apply to all individuals who express support for the movement) satisfy perfectly the description of “engaging in unacceptable behavior by justifying terrorist violence… and fostering racial hatred.” In terms of “justifying terrorist violence,” what case could be clearer than JVP’s embrace of convicted terrorist murderer Rasmah Odeh? As for provoking violence, the visceral hatred stoked at “BDS” rallies belies their disavowal of violence, rendering it insincere. When it comes to racial hatred, the assault by a rabid mob on a Jewish LGBTQ group attempting to conduct Shabbat services at the Creating Change conference in February and the declaration by the ‘Chicago Dyke March’ that of all ethnic groups, there is one whose traditional symbols of identity are illegitimate (you guessed which!) – these actions speak for themselves.
But most important is the fundamental premise of this hate-filled movement – the call for the eradication of the Jewish state. Anuar Majluf, a Chilean “BDS” leader recently denied entry to Israel, published a video referring to Israel as “Palestinian territories occupied in 1948” and demanding this “occupation” be brought to an end. Closer to home, a letter by Adalah-NY to the Lincoln Center, trying to prohibit theatre sponsored by an arm of the Israeli government from New York stages, concludes with a call to “end 69 years of Palestinian dispossession and exile,” referring to 69 years of Jewish statehood.
Well, the nation state of the Jewish People is here to stay. And if putting an end to it is your motivation for entering our country — you may as well stay home.
Ambassador Dani Dayan is the Consul General of Israel in New York
Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Adalah-NY. It also misstated the nature of the objection in Adalah-NY’s letter. Adalah-NY does not oppose all Israeli theater.