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General Articles
The Ministry of Strategic Affairs' Strategy to Battle BDS

15.08.16

Editorial Note

The Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs has recently hit the news twice. First, Sima Vaknin-Gil, the office director appeared before a Knesset Committee meeting headed by MK Stav Shaffir on Transparency of the Government.  One of the issues raised was the Ministry's fight against BDS.  Vaknin-Gil was reluctant to disclose in public too many details on how her office operates, but explained the raison d'etre, “although severe criticism of Israel is legitimate, rejecting the right for Israel to exist is illegitimate... whoever accepts our existence here, including the biggest critics, is a partner. Whoever doesn’t is an opponent. If there is an organization that says we need to give back all of the territories, but recognizes Israel’s existence as a nation-state — to me, that is a partner. Even if there are those who don’t like it.”

Second, the following day, Minister Gilad Erdan, along with Aryeh Deri, the Interior Minister, announced that both offices cooperate to establish a task-force to trace and deport BDS activists, tourists with foreign passports entering Israel on false tourist visa while is effect they volunteer to some BDS-related NGOs.

An Haaretz article quoted high-ranking official, without disclosing a name, who stated that, "There is an intention to exercise discretion in every case. For example, we will have to consider whether an expulsion of certain people benefits or harms Israel's interest. If this is a foreign citizen whose actions of boycotting Israel is minor and he is mainly engaged in the promotion of human rights, then we have no problem with that. But if this is an organization whose main activity is promoting a boycott and de-legitimization against Israel then we have no interest in him coming here."

Erdan also posted on Facebook a public request for information on such tourists. One commentator asked him about the Israeli BDS supporters, eliciting the following:
"Our initiative relates to the BDS activities by foreigners, not Israeli citizens, who come here in order to bash Israel. The law regarding entry into Israel is different than the law for the citizens of Israel and there is logic in this distinction. We are also considering what sanctions could be taken against Israeli pro-boycott organizations and Israeli boycott activists. But when it comes to the residents of Israel this is of course more complex."

IAM has been following BDS as it pertains to academic-related issues.  We would report on what measures, if any, the Israeli Government will take against BDS activists from within. 





Israel seen as a ‘pariah state,’ says top strategy official
Strategic Affairs Ministry head says BDS pushed on defensive, hopeful that existence of the Jewish state won’t be questioned by 2025
BY STUART WINER 
August 7, 2016, 6:36 pm 4   
Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

A top official engaged in the campaign to improve Israel’s international standing said Sunday the Jewish state is seen as an apartheid “pariah state” abroad, while expressing the hope that by 2025, no one will question Israel’s right to exist.

Director-General of the Strategic Affairs Ministry Sima Vaknin-Gil also told the Knesset Special Committee for the Transparency and Accessibility of Government Information that Israel is making progress against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the Haaretz newspaper reported.

“Today, among the countries of the world, Israel is a pariah state,” she said. “Our objective is that in 2025 nobody in the world will raise the question ‘does Israel have the right to exist?'”

Vaknin-Gil said her ministry has set up a team of 10 staff members to change how Israel presents itself to the world.

“From my point of view, success will be a change in the narrative about Israel in the world. That the narrative in the world won’t be that Israel equals apartheid,” she said.

The ministry, she explained, is interested in working with as many organizations as possible — both those that praise and those that criticize Israel — so long as they recognize Israel’s right to exist.

The ministry is of the opinion that “although severe criticism of Israel is legitimate, rejecting the right for Israel to exist is illegitimate,” Vaknin-Gil said.

While noting that, as a civil servant, she doesn’t comment on political matters, the official opined that “whoever accepts our existence here, including the biggest critics, is a partner. Whoever doesn’t is an opponent. If there is an organization that says we need to give back all of the [Palestinian] territories, but recognizes Israel’s existence as a nation-state — to me, that is a partner. Even if there are those who don’t like it.”

Vaknin-Gil also told the committee that the tide is shifting regarding the BDS movement, with boycott activists pushed on the defensive.

“There is a strategic competition between us and our opponent,” she said referring to the BDS movement. “We are moving from restraining and responding to initiating and attacking.” She said Israel was using both “secret channels” and public campaigns to push back against the boycott movement, leaving BDS activists “on the defensive.”

Committee chair MK Stav Shaffir (Zionist Union) quizzed Vaknin-Gil for details about the work plan and the ministry’s budget.

Vaknin-Gil, who previously served as the head of the military censor’s office, agreed to provide only a few details, saying additional information could only be given at a closed meeting of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

However, she revealed that the ministry’s budget for 2016 to counter delegitimization of Israel is NIS 44 million ($11 million) out of a total NIS 128 million ($33 million) government budget for the issue.

She stressed that the ministry ought to keep its activities under wraps and said she has asked the Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan to refrain from talking publicly about its plans, the report said.

 
“We want most of the work by the Strategic Affairs Ministry to be classified. There is a lot of sensitivity and I cannot even explain in a public forum why there is sensitivity.”

“A lot of what we do is under the radar,” she added.

The director-general also told the committee that the ministry will be moving its office to Tel Aviv — although part of it will remain in Jerusalem — and that the reasons for the move are secret.

However, according to Haaretz, Erdan said several months ago that that the move was in order to be closer to the IDF command and the headquarters of various intelligence agencies.


=========================================================================

לחרם על ישראל חייב להיות מחיר! 
אם יש לכם מידע על מישהו המתחזה לתייר והוא בעצם פעיל חרם ששוהה בישראל- ספרו לנו עליו ונפעל להוציאו מהארץ

נפגשתי היום עם שר הפנים אריה דרעי וסיכמנו שיוקם צוות משותף אשר יפעל לגרש ולמנוע כניסה של פעילים למען חרם על מדינת ישראל.

כיום יש מצב אבסורדי שבו פעילי חרם ודה לגיטימציה מגיעים לישראל על תקן ?תיירים?, ומרגע כניסתם ועד צאתם הם פועלים כאן בכדי להתסיס וללבות, לאסוף מידע על ישראל ואז לעוות אותו ולהשתמש בו בחו?ל כדי לקדם חרמות כנגד ישראל

האם זה נשמע לכם סביר? ודאי שלא. 
המצב הזה חייב להיפסק. שום מדינה בעולם לא תאפשר לאף אחד להיכנס אליה על מנת לפגוע בה.

הצוות שיוקם יפעל לאתר פעילי חרם זרים השוהים בישראל ולהוציאם מכאן חזרה למדינותיהם, כמו גם למנוע כניסה לארץ מפעילי ארגוני חרם.

הפעילות הזו היא דוגמה לצורך בקיומו של משרד לנושאים אסטרטגיים המקדם שימוש בכלים חוקיים ומשפטיים במאבק כנגד תנועת הדה לגיטימציה נגד ישראל. בקרוב יציג הצוות המשפטי שהקמתי עוד שינויי חקיקה ופעולות ממשלתיות לשדרוג המאבק בחרם על ישראל.

יש לנו הישגים שהשתיקה יפה להם ואנו נמשיך לפעול ולעשות הכל על מנת להילחם בתופעת החרם.

אם חשוב לכם שנצליח לגרש את פעילי החרם מכאן - שתפו את הפוסט



גלעד ארדן | Gilad Erdan
היוזמה שלנו מתייחסת לפעילי bds זרים,שאינם תושבי ישראל,שנכנסים לכאן במטרה לפעול ל?השחרת? ישראל.החוק בנושא הכניסה לישראל הוא אחר מאשר לגבי תושבי מדינת ישראל ויש הגיון באבחנה הזו.אנו בוחנים גם איזה סנקציות ניתן יהיה לנקוט כלפי ארגוני חרם ופעילי חרם ישראלים.אך כאשר מדובר בתושבי ישראל זה כמובן יותר מורכב.יום טוב.גלעד

===========================================================


Palestinian BDS National Committee condemns creation of Israeli taskforce to deport international human rights activists
August 7, 2016
 
By Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC)


The Palestinian BDS National Committee, the broadest coalition in Palestinian society that leads the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights, strongly condemned Israel’s establishment of a taskforce specifically for identifying international BDS activists and groups in order to deny them entry or deport them from the country.

The decision to establish this anti-BDS task force was made by Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan and Interior Minister Arye Dery. 

The announcement comes less than a month after five U.S. human rights delegates were detained and harassed at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport before being deported on July 17. Israel regularly denies entry to foreigners for their political affiliations without being met with any meaningful counter measures by governments around the world.

Abdulrahman Abunahel, a spokesperson for the Palestinian BDS National Committee, commented:

"Deporting BDS activists in order to silence them and undermine their principled support for Palestinian human rights is not only anti-democratic; it is yet another incident of Israel shooting itself in the foot. If anything, we expect such acts of heightened repression to boost support for boycotting Israel back in these activists' home countries."

"This latest weapon in the intensifying Israeli legal, espionage and propaganda war against the BDS movement for Palestinian rights is a strong indicator of how desperate and irrational Israel's regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid has become in its futile attempts to hinder the impressive growth of the BDS movement around the world."

"After failing to counter or even diminish the unmistakable impact of BDS in isolating its brutal regime of oppression, Israel is dropping the mask. It is revealing its true face to the world as a ruthless, warmongering pariah state, and it is resorting to the same repressive tools deployed by apartheid South Africa in its last chapter, before its eventual collapse."

"We salute every person of conscience around the world who has creatively, passionately and selflessly supported the Palestinian struggle for our rights under international law. We are confident that Israel's intensifying repression notwithstanding, this principled solidarity will significantly contribute to the struggle for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality."




Israel to crack down further on foreign pro-Palestinian activists
New taskforce will attempt to deport or deny entry to supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement

Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem
Monday 8 August 2016 13.05 BST
Last modified on Tuesday 9 August 201612.26 BST

Israel is intensifying its campaign against foreign pro-Palestinian activists, announcing that it will establish a taskforce to identify and deport or deny entry to individuals who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)movement targeting the Israeli occupation.

The country’s interior minister, Aryeh Deri, and the public security minister, Gilad Erdan, announced the move on Sunday.

The taskforce will attempt to locate hundreds of activists already in Israel and deny entry to others trying get in.

Israel has a long history of denying entry to those it says are damaging to its interests, but the latest proposal marks a new escalation against the BDS movement and activists.

According to reports in the Israeli media a number of as yet unnamed groups active in Palestine have already been listed.

Since Israeli naval forces intercepted the Mavi Marmara protest flotilla in 2010, killing nine people, the so-called delegitimisation department of the Israeli military intelligence research division has routinely monitored the activities of groups abroad (£).

Since an attempted “Flytilla” – an attempted mass arrival by air that followed the Mavi Marmara incident – Israel has increased its efforts to prevent entry by activists, using a range of tactics.

Foreign campaigners with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and other groups have long been a prominent feature of the protest landscape in Palestine, attending demonstrations, visiting flashpoint locations and working on volunteer projects.

Many, including ISM volunteers, come on tourist visas but stay for prolonged periods.


 Palestinians walk past a sign painted on a wall in Bethlehem last year calling for a boycott of Israeli products. Photograph: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images
A key focus in recent years has been BDS – a Palestinian-led international movement that seeks to introduce sanctions against Israel – which Israeli politicians often accuse of being antisemitic and of “delegitimising” Israel.


“The battle of the boycott organisations against Israel begins with the people who come to sabotage inside Israel,” Deri said. “It is our duty to do everything possible to weaken the boycott.”A joint statement by the two ministers accused activists of going to Palestine to “agitate the local residents against the security forces and disrupt their activity”.

Erdan said: “Boycott activists must not be allowed to enter Israel.”

The latest moves reflect the deep sense of confusion and panic within Israel’s government over BDS, a movement it routinely dismisses as a failure while also denouncing it as a powerful threat and devoting significant financial and diplomatic resources to countering it.

The latest Israeli moves were condemned by Abdulrahman Abunahel, a BDS spokesman. “Deporting BDS activists in order to silence them and undermine their principled support for Palestinian human rights is not only anti-democratic; it is yet another incident of Israel shooting itself in the foot,” he said.

“If anything, we expect such acts of heightened repression to boost support for boycotting Israel back in these activists’ home countries.

“This latest weapon in the intensifying Israeli legal, espionage and propaganda war against the BDS movement for Palestinian rights is a strong indicator of how desperate and irrational Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid has become in its futile attempts to hinder the impressive growth of the BDS movement around the world.”



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