“Although appalling, saddening and manifestly anti-democratic, the IPSC views its appearance on this list as a badge of honour and a vindication of our work in solidarity with the people of Palestine over the past 16 years,” statement said. “We will not stop our campaigning work for freedom, justice and equality for the Palestinian people.
Calling it an anti-democratic move to be robustly condemned, the IPSC said it will be making representations to the Irish government and elected representatives.
Among the groups banned is the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organisation which received the Nobel Peace Prize for rescuing refugees from the Nazis during the Second World War, Jewish Voice for Peace, a Jewish group that acts in solidarity with Palestinians, and the Palestinian Boycott National Committee, the leadership of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
“We must remember, however, that it is merely the latest draconian attempt to defeat the growing and increasingly successful BDS movement, the global movement that seeks to pressure Israel into ending its occupation of Palestine, obeying international law and ensuring Palestinians enjoy their inalienable rights, including the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees and full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel. The right to campaign for BDS has been defended by both the Irish government and the European Union. “
The statement said that the ban, while undoubtedly meant to intimidate Palestinian rights activists, and to isolate those in occupied Palestine from their supporters abroad, will only serve to further expose the true anti-democratic nature of the apartheid state.
“It begs the questions: What kind of state sets ideological barriers that proscribe members of entirely legal, well respected, non-violent, human rights advocacy organisations from entry? What does this state want to hide from the world?
“It is clear that Israel fears people travelling to Palestine to see the brutal military occupation for themselves and to make personal connections with Palestinians and Israelis working for justice on the ground. Last year four members of an Irish fact-finding group were banned and deported – many others from all over the world have faced the same fate before and since this incident.”
IPSC added that the move will have the most hurtful impact upon Palestinians in the diaspora who are active in struggles for the rights of their people, who will be unable to visit their homeland to visit family. As the IPSC Chairperson Fatin Al Tammi noted, “For me as a Palestinian, it means a lot that they are going to ban me from going to see my family and people. It is absolutely horrible.”
“Nevertheless, we do not believe people should be overly worried about visiting Palestine. It seems unlikely – outside of illegal spying entailing severe violations of data protection laws – that the Israeli state could know who ordinary members of the IPSC or any of the other groups are. The IPSC continues to urge people who can to visit Palestine to meet with amazing people struggling for freedom, justice and equality under Israel’s apartheid regime.
“It is also clear that Israel fears the effect of the global BDS movement for Palestinian rights. The fact is that today Israel has an army of well-paid advocates and propagandists who seek to delegitimise the Palestinian campaign for a boycott of Israel. It employs students to post Israeli state propaganda, it is involved in setting up military-style situation rooms in Israel and the US to spread lies about the BDS movement, and it helps create apps to enable agents to swarm online targets. The Israeli government is paying journalists and newspapersfor favourable coverage and to lie about BDS, while at the same time pressuring social media sites to ban Palestinian journalists and activists.
“Meanwhile, just last week it was revealed that, on top of the millions already invested, the Israeli government and private donors are to pump an extra $72 million into fighting against the global BDS movement. The largely volunteer-led BDS movement would be lucky if all the groups involved had a combined 1/100th of that budget.
“These are the forces ranged against the BDS movement today – and there is literally no low they will not stoop to, no slur they will not throw, nor no lie they will not tell, to defame those who are fighting for justice for Palestinians.