(d)A visa or residence permit of any kind will not be given to a non-Israeli citizen or a person who has an Israeli permanent residence permit if s/he, or his/her organization; or the body in which s/he works for has knowingly published a public call to boycott the State of Israel as defined in the Law for Prevention of Damage to the State of Israel through Boycott – 2011 (5771), or if this person has committed to participate in such a boycott. (e) Despite what was mentioned in sub-section (d), the Minister of the Interior is entitled to grant the visa or residence permit mentioned in the aforementioned sub-section for special reasons which must be specified.
Haaretz reports that even though the law says that the Minister of the Interior can allow such an exception, given the sensitivity of the issue in this case the decision will be made by Benjamin Netanyahu himself.
Last year Israel tried to deny student Lara Alqasem entry to the country based on this law, and Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that she should be allowed to enter.
When Israel tried to deport Human Rights Watch’s Omar Shakir for his anti-Israel activities, the Supreme Court again ruled that he can stay while fighting the order. He’s still in Israel and it is not clear when the ruling will come.
As Professor Eugene Kontorovich notes, “It’s very hard for the Israeli government to actually apply the law because, basically in practice, everybody who they try to bar immediately turns to the Supreme Court. So the Supreme Court has barred the effective implementation of the law, and unfortunately, that results in a situation where Israel gets all of the criticism for applying it without the actual benefits of being able to exclude people. Omar is an American congressperson. That is a very strong reason for admitting her. But at the same time, I would expect Israel would seek the opinion of the United States government as to whether to admit her.”
Moreover, Israeli law allowed the country to deny entry to people who are a danger to the State before this law.Anti-Israel activist Norman Finkelstein was deported and given a 10-year ban in 2008 and Noam Chomsky was denied entry in 2010, before Amendment No. 28.
It is the right of any country to bar anyone from entering, and the US and UK do it all the time, for example. The current law is not effective in the least, it allows the haters of Israel to engage in drawn out legal proceedings which grab headlines for weeks, it was not necessary to begin with and it has been an unmitigated public relations disaster for Israel.
Refusing entry to Tlaib and Omar would be exactly what they want. It will paint Israel in the media as cruel (for not allowing Tlaib to bring her kids to see her grandmother) and petty (for looking so insecure that it cannot handle the inevitable criticism that both members of Congress will bring up, no matter what they see in Israel.)
This is a PR war. Tlaib and Omar are very good at PR. Israel needs to be better, and barring their entry is the exact wrong decision.
Instead, Israel should make a very public show of welcoming them. It should recommend – and provide logistics – for them to visit the real Israel.
Not Yad Vashem. Not the Kotel. Not the usual destinations that Israel brings politicians.
Instead, Israel should invite them to see the Israel Museum, which carefully shows Jewish, Christian and Muslim history in the Land in equal measure.
They should be invited to see the Museum of Islamic Art, in Jerusalem.
They should be invited to the Mamilla Mall, or really any Jerusalem mall, where Arabs and Jews freely shop together without a second thought.
They should be invited to the Peres Center for Peace to see soccer games between Jewish and Arab youth.
They should be invited to see the high tech laboratories in Tel Aviv – and Nazareth.
They should be encouraged to speak to Arab workers at Rami Levy supermarkets (even in the “settlements”) or at Sodastream.
The invitations should come not only from Likud officials but from the other parties as well.
All of these invitations should be very public and emphasize how Muslims and Arabs are truly treated in Israel, not how the media portrays it.
The Israel haters carefully choose where to bring their tourists to maximize hate for Israel – but they are the ones who are not allowing the tourists to talk to ordinary people.
To undermine their lies, Israel merely needs to show the reality. Even if that includes the Ethiopian Jewish protests.
They won’t become Zionists. That isn’t the point. This is a public relations war, a war that Israel still needs to do a better job at. Banning them, or even talking about banning them, makes Israel look like it is afraid of the truth. Making Tlaib and Omar refuse invitations by high level officials will reveal which side is secure and which is afraid of the truth.
And if they accept the invitations, then dozens of reporters will write a little more about what Israel is really like.
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