It’s almost Purim and the atmosphere here in Israel is gearing up for the festivities. For days now, all we’ve heard from the school across the street are Purim songs played on the loudspeaker system at break time. Unfortunately, the school next door also played Purim songs at the same times – just not the same songs 🙄
Today the streets were filled with children dressed up in their Purim costumes while proud parents and grandparents flooded the social media and whatssapp groups with their photos 🙂 (guilty as charged!)
Here are two of my grandchildren:
So today is probably the best Friday in the year for a Good News Friday post.
Since the Purim story is based around a political story, it’s great to have some good political news. The Knesset finally manned up and passed a law banning entry to Israel of people who support BDS:
The legislation, advanced by right-wing and centrist coalition lawmakers, prevents foreign nationals who have publicly called for a boycott of the Jewish state or work on behalf of an organization that advocates these measures from entering Israel.
The legislation passed its third and final reading with 46 lawmakers voting in favor and 28 voting against it.
It was not immediately clear when the ban would take effect.
The law also extends to supporters of boycotts of West Bank settlement products, resting on a legal definition of an Israel boycott in a 2011 law that includes all “areas under its control.”
It would not apply to foreign nationals who have a residency permit and gives the interior minister leeway to make exceptions. Under the existing law, the interior minister already has the right to bar individuals from entering Israel.
As various lawmakers said:
MK Roy Folkman (Kulanu), who sponsored the bill, said the legislation was necessary in order to protect Israel’s “name and honor.”
“It is possible to feel both national pride and also to believe in human rights. It is also possible to defend the name and honor of the State of Israel and this is no embarrassment,” he said, according to a Knesset spokesperson.
MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home), who helped spearhead the bill, said the new law shows that Israel “won’t turn the other cheek” and that it was a “natural” step for any country to take.
Of course the Left and the Europeans all bewailed the demise of Israel’s democracy and the danger of this terrible law. But the most surprising good news in all this came – from all places – the US State Department! That traditional bastion of neutral-to-cold air towards Israel simply stated that the law was Israel’s sovereign decision:
A new law that would ban entry to Israel of foreigners who publicly support boycotts of the Jewish state is Israel’s “sovereign decision,” a State Department spokesperson said.
In a briefing to reporters on Wednesday, Mark Toner said that while the United States opposes boycotts of Israel, it is up to Israel to make decisions regarding its borders.
“While we oppose boycotts and sanctions of the state of Israel, we also support firmly freedom of expression,” Toner said. “That said, it’s – this is a sovereign decision for Israel to make regarding its borders.”
Well colour me gobsmacked!
I’m still not certain the law will ever be implemented in full, there are too many nay-sayers and challengers within the Knesset, but the very fact that it was not only passed into law but supported by the State Department is astonishing. Truly Purim-worthy news!
On a similar #BSDFail theme, the Swiss lower house voted to defund pro-BDS groups:
The lower house of Switzerland’s parliament on Wednesday advanced a bill prohibiting the Swiss government from providing aid to NGOs engaged in boycotts of Israel.
The legislation calls for cutting off foreign aid to any groups that promote “racist, anti-Semitic or incendiary” actions or that call for boycotts of Israel, according to the Basler Zeitung daily.
The bill, which was proposed by Christian Imark of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, passed in the National Council with 111 votes in favor to 78 against.
The Swiss People’s Party has backed a number of referendums aimed at restricting immigration and supported a ban on the construction of mosque minarets in Switzerland, which became a constitutional amendment following a referendum in 2009.
The Foreign Ministry in Bern, he said, supports groups that “demand boycotts of and sanctions against Israel and engage in anti-Israel incitement, lawfare as well as campaigns of anti-Zionism and racism, which call for the destruction of Israel and sometimes even have direct connections to terrorist organizations.” He cited in that context Israeli and Palestinian NGOs such as Al-Haq, Adalah and Breaking the Silence.
Olga Deutsch, the Europe Desk director for NGO Monitor, a watchdog and critic of foreign funding for such NGOs, hailed the vote, describing it as “an important precedent in seriously countering BDS campaigns, anti-Semitism, and hatred.”
The Neue Zürcher Zeitung daily said the vote was a great success for NGO Monitor, which had lobbied the Swiss government on the issue and provided information on a number of the pro-BDS groups receiving Swiss funding.
Kol hakavod to Mr. Imark who promoted this legislation, and to NGO Monitor which persisted in their lobbying to prevent the funding of pro-BDS groups. And of course huge kudos to the Swiss parliament. This marks yet another #BDSFail in international legislatures. May it mark the continued fall of the BDS organization.
To conclude this week’s post, in this spirit of Jewish pride that I’ve been writing about, United With Israel brings us a great, catchy video “I’m a Jew and I’m proud” (via Gila):
This lively musical video by prominent hasidic Jewish singer Benny Friedman encourages Jews not to be fearful, but to celebrate their heritage and remain proud of who they are.
By the same token, the Jewish people must continue to support Israel, notwithstanding the lies and attacks by enemies who promote boycotts and other anti-Semitic acts to weaken the Jewish state.
Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom. Stay tuned for my Purim post after Shabbat.