IPMN Condemns Israeli Travel Ban on Supporters of BDS
The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA) condemns the Israeli government’s decision to prevent five faith leaders from traveling on an interfaith delegation from the United States to Israel/Palestine. The Israeli government has banned Muslim, Jewish, and Christian leaders from traveling to the country because they support the Palestinian call for nonviolent BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) tactics against Israeli human rights abuses.
Those denied the right to travel, included Moderator of the 216th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and Presbyterian Peace Fellowship member, Rick Ufford-Chase, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) co-Director Rabbi Alissa Wise, as well as other members of JVP, and one delegate from American Muslims for Palestine. These delegation leaders were prevented from flying to Tel Aviv because of their support for the Palestinian call to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel.
While we are angered by this decision, we are not surprised. Israel has been denying Palestinians the right to re-enter their homeland for the past sixty-nine years based on their identity. The state regularly prevents Arabs, Muslims, and other people of color from entering its borders because they are deemed a demographic threat to the Jewish majority.
The self-declared “Jewish state” has been denying entry and deporting African asylum seekers in appalling numbers over the past several years, but is now resorting to banning American Muslims, Jews, and Christians because they do not agree with their extreme policies, and are bringing attention to Israeli human rights abuses.
This most recent travel ban comes in the immediate wake of Israel’s violently enforced restrictions to Palestinian’s right to pray at al-Aqsa Mosque. Against international warnings not to change the delicate status quo, Israel unilaterally installed security cameras and metal detectors at the gates, sparking protests and deadly violence.
As if that provocation isn’t enough, Israel has escalated its ever-tightening siege on Gaza, where Palestinians are now given just two hours of electricity per day. Gaza’s two million captive people live in a place that the UN has called “more and more wretched,” with a prediction that Gaza will become “unlivable” by 2020.
As Christians, we stand with all our sisters and brothers in Israel/Palestine who are struggling for liberation from a settler colonial power.
We stand with Rick Ufford-Chase and our interfaith partners who are seeking to model true interfaith solidarity.
And we stand with all those who wish to travel to Israel/Palestine to affect change, and those who use boycotts, divestment, and sanctions as nonviolent means to bring about peace, justice, and equal rights for all.