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Knesset bars Arab MK from JVP-sponsored trip to U.S.

MK Yousef Jabareen was supposed to travel across the United States for a series of lectures on the political reality in Israel. The Knesset decided to put the kibosh on the trip — because it is sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace.

Joint List MK Yousef Jabareen seen in the Knesset. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Joint List MK Yousef Jabareen seen in the Knesset. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The Knesset has forbidden an Arab member of Knesset from traveling to the United States for a series of lectures. The reason? The trip was to be subsidized by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), a left-wing American organization that supports pressuring Israel to end the occupation with boycotts, and appears on a government blacklist of groups that support the BDS movement.

“[The decision] is a severe blow to my political freedom as an elected official. This is activity that is a fundamental and integral part of my role as a member of the Knesset opposition,” MK Yousef Jabareen told +972 Magazine on Wednesday. “American opinion is relevant to the political reality in Israel, and it is important for me to try and have an influence there through lectures and conferences.”

The decision is the first time that the Knesset Ethics Committee has enforced a new regulation, created in January of this year, which bars Knesset Members from traveling abroad using funds of groups that appear on the blacklist. As reported in Haaretz, Ethics Committee Chairman Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas) confirmed that the committee asked the Strategic Affairs Ministry for more information on JVP.

Jabareen said he is considering filing a petition to the High Court of Justice against the decision to bar his travel, and to overturn the new Ethics Committee regulations.

Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, who is responsible for compiling the blacklist, issued a response to the committee on March 8th, according to which JVP “is currently considered one of the leading boycott organizations in the United States, declaring its support for BDS as a nonviolent tool that will compel the State of Israel to change its policy and relinquish ‘the occupied territories.’”

Jewish Voice for Peace Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson issued the following response:

We are deeply disappointed that MK Yousef Jabareen won’t be able to join us in the U.S. due to the Knesset decision to effectively block his travel.  We were very much looking forward to learning from his experience as an MK and his leadership on issues of democracy and equality in Israel. This decision is sad evidence of the further deterioration of Israeli democratic standards.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Bruce Gould

      May I suggest that if MK Jabareen is not able to make his tour of the U.S. in person, he can still do a virtual tour with Skype?

      Reply to Comment
      • Mikesailor

        Curious. Perhaps the US should pass the same rule: that Israeli government or any other Zionist supporting entity should not be allowed to fund any excursions or other expense-paid trips for members of the US Congress or any other persons of the legislative or executive branches of government. Is that “antisemitic”? If so, then I would reply that what is good for the goose….

        Reply to Comment
    2. David

      More evidence that Israel is running scared. This is 2018, not 1948 or 1967. The world is rapidly learning the ugly past and present truth of Zionism. It’s only a matter of time.

      Henry Morgenthau Sr., renowned Jewish American and former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, 1919: “Zionism is the most stupendous fallacy in Jewish history….The very fervour of my feeling for the oppressed of every race and every land, especially for the Jews, those of my own blood and faith, to whom I am bound by every tender tie, impels me to fight with all the greater force against this scheme, which my intelligence tells me can only lead them deeper into the mire of the past, while it professes to be leading them to the heights. Zionism is… a retrogression into the blackest error, and not progress toward the light.” (Quoted by Frank Epp, Whose Land is Palestine?, p. 261)

      Reply to Comment
    3. David

      More evidence that Israel is running scared. This is 2018, not 1948 or 1967. The world is rapidly learning the ugly past and present truth of Zionism. It’s only a matter of time.

      Prophetic words:
      Henry Morgenthau Sr., renowned Jewish American and former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, 1919: “Zionism is the most stupendous fallacy in Jewish history….The very fervour of my feeling for the oppressed of every race and every land, especially for the Jews, those of my own blood and faith, to whom I am bound by every tender tie, impels me to fight with all the greater force against this scheme, which my intelligence tells me can only lead them deeper into the mire of the past, while it professes to be leading them to the heights. Zionism is… a retrogression into the blackest error, and not progress toward the light.” (Quoted by Frank Epp, Whose Land is Palestine?, p. 261)

      Reply to Comment
    4. Dr Joel Mort

      So the smart thing to do is for JVP to withdraw it’s co sponsorship so there is no conflict with the new ethics standards. If the Knesset continues to block his travel then file a petition with the high court.

      Reply to Comment

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