Public Security Minister Erdan says ‘the message has to be that it’s not worth being a BDS activist,’ reveals his plans to create government-sponsored legislation to that end.
Israeli Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Information Minister Gilad Erdan says that BDS advocates inside Israel must be made to pay a price and that he is working to create legislation that would do just that.
“The message has to be that it’s not worth being a BDS activist,” the minister said at a panel on BDS at the Herzliya Conference on Thursday. “Anybody who works to delegitimize Israel, to bring an end to the Zionist enterprise, they should know that there will be a price.”
Pointing to legislation that targets and punishes boycott and divestment actions and activists overseas, particularly in Europe and the United States, Erdan lamented “there’s no real price for somebody here, [an individual] or an organization who is working against his country in order to isolate it in the world.”
Erdan also revealed that he has put together a legal team that is working with the Israeli Justice Ministry to ensure that there is a price for boycott and presumably anti-occupation activism.
“If we want to convince the world that de-legitimization is unacceptable for which a price must be paid, then it needs to start here in Israel,” the senior minister said.
Israel already has a law that allows civil suits to be brought against boycott activists under certain circumstances, but it has never been used. Erdan described the existing boycott law as ineffective.
In March of this year, Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz advocated engaging in “targeted civil eliminations” of BDS leaders with the help of Israeli intelligence, using language that deliberately evoked the Hebrew term for “targeted assassinations.”
Erdan made sure to distance himself from Katz’s comments, which drew the ire of Amnesty International at the time, reassuring the yearly policy conference that he was not referring to any sort of physical threats.
Israeli authorities recently announced that they have put a de facto travel ban on BDS leader Omar Barghouti and are considering revoking his permanent residency status in the country.
Erdan outlined steps he believes the government should take as it moves from defense to offense against the boycott movement and those who advocate for it.
Israeli authorities must target such activists’ and organizations’ bank accounts, expose their sources of funding, specifically to look at whether they can be tied to declared terrorist organizations, and look for irregularities in their funding in order to find any illegal activity, he explained.
The government is currently advancing legislation that targets the funding of human rights organizations and other groups associated with the anti-occupation left in Israel.
The legislation, which is described by its sponsors as a transparency bill, would cast human rights and left-wing political activists as foreign agents, directly implying that they are working against Israel on behalf of foreign, hostile governments.
BDS is a Palestinian-led non-violent movement that seeks to end the occupation, achieve a just resolution for Palestinian refugees, and full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel.