I’m a US Jew on Israel’s BDS blacklist, I have family in Israel, but I won’t be silenced

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Rebecca Vilkomerson (right) in July 2016 with Caroline Hunter, who was part of the movement to end apartheid in South Africa. (photo: JVP)

Israel wants to intimidate the growing numbers of Jews fighting for equality and freedom for all people in Israel/Palestine. It won’t work.

By Rebecca Vilkomerson | Haaretz | Jan 7, 2018


As long as Israel continues to violate the fundamental rights of Palestinians, people will continue to speak out — Palestinians, Jews, and people of conscience the world over.


The first time I went to Israel I was four months old. Throughout my childhood and young adulthood I visited regularly: My grandparents, in Haifa; and my aunt, uncle and cousins, on a religious kibbutz near the Jordanian border. There was no place, with the exception of the town where I grew up, to which I felt more connected.

As an adult, married to an Israeli, we spent three years living in Tel Aviv with our two young daughters, who also have Israeli citizenship.

In March last year, the Israeli Knesset passed a bill that forbids entry to “foreign nationals who call for economic, cultural or academic boycotts of either Israel or the settlements,” and yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that as a result 20 organizations have been placed on a blacklist that would prohibit entry specifically to its leaders. That list was published in full Sunday. Jewish Voice for Peace, the organization of which I am executive director, is one of the organizations named.

Despite the fact that my grandparents are buried there, that my aging in-laws still live there, and my extensive ties of friendship and family, my support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) for Palestinian rights now excludes me from Israel.

BDS is a call from Palestinian civil society to build a global movement to pressure Israel to end the occupation, offer full equal rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel, and allow Palestinian refugees the right to return. The BDS movement is inspired by the tradition of nonviolent resistance to oppression, and draws on the example of the movement to divest from South African apartheid and other examples of targeted economic and cultural pressure to achieve justice.

It could not be more clear from this most recent move that the rising global tide of support for BDS deeply alarms Israel, which recognizes it as a potent tool to change the status quo of Palestinian dispossession that has been an integral part of Israeli statehood.

Read the full article here →

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