Habonim Dror North America Statement on BDS Travel Ban

Categories: Letters From Leadership

(March 10, 2017 ) — HDNAHabonim Dror North America is deeply saddened and enraged by the recent bill passed by the Israeli Knesset, which bans the granting of permanent status or temporary visas to foreign nationals who advocate, have advocated for, or practice any form of economic, cultural or academic boycotts against Israel and the Occupied Territories. This disgraceful law must be rejected and overturned as antithetical to the authentic essence of Zionism and Judaism.

Habonim Dror North America does not support the Global BDS movement. However, we believe in the rights of individuals to express their political views through nonviolent means. We stand against the barring of anyone – citizen or noncitizen – by political litmus test, especially one that limits the potential for those engaged in activism about Israel and Palestine to experience the society they wish to take responsibility over.

Beyond this BDS law, leftists in Israel – citizens and noncitizens alike – have increasingly faced harassment by state officials solely on the basis of their political beliefs. Habonim Dror supports those who are doing crucial nonviolent work to bring real freedom and dignity to both Israelis and Palestinians. As a movement that is proud of our pioneering role in the founding and development of Israel as a progressive socialist democracy, we reject those of Israel’s current policies which are racist and anti-democratic.

The hallmark of a healthy democracy is the welcoming of debate and opposition within government and throughout public spaces. Our Jewish tradition and Jewish texts teach us to include diverse voices and narratives in our dilemmas— to always question. This bill does the exact opposite. We are saddened to witness legislation which continues to erode the Jewish and democratic characteristics of the State of Israel, which, over the past 60 years our members have worked hard to build.

We will continue to educate Jewish youth in the Diaspora and in Israel towards the belief that a Jewish and democratic state, and freedom and dignity for all Palestinians and Israelis, is possible. We have not lost faith.

We reject the walls – real and metaphorical – that Israel is building around itself. We call upon North American Jewish organizations to represent our community by speaking out against this anti-democratic legislation and all anti-democratic actions that the Israeli government takes. Since our inception, Habonim Dror around the world has educated young Jews towards taking responsibility over their Jewish community by exercising leadership.

We call upon our Israeli alumni and partners in the Kibbutz Movement, Hanoar Haoved Ve’Halomed, Dror Israel, and throughout Israel to commit to strong and strategic direct action if their situation permits, to publicly show the Israeli government and world Jewry that they oppose this ban. This moment is urgent and it necessitates meaningful action. As a progressive Labor Zionist youth movement, we will continue to educate Jewish youth towards upbuilding Israel and a democratic, Jewish, peaceful, egalitarian society.

Press contact: Yasaf Warshai mazkir@habonimdror.org

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