Critic of Israel denied chance to study in that country

October 11, 2018 • 8:00 am

Several readers, perhaps assuming I’d be taking Israel’s side, sent me article about an incident that happened about a week ago. As CNN reports, Lara Alqasem, a 22-year-old American student of Palestinian descent, flew to Israel with a visa, intending to study at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She never made it out of the airport, and as of yesterday she’d been detained there for a week. Why? Because the Israelis discovered that Alqasem was active in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. As CNN report,

The Ministry of Strategic Affairs, which handles BDS cases, called Alqasem a “prominent activist” who met the criteria of being refused entry into Israel.

In a statement to CNN, Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan said: “Israel, like every democracy, has the right to prevent the entry of foreign nationals, especially those working to harm the country. Therefore we work to prevent the entry of those who promote the anti-Semitic BDS campaign, which calls for Israel’s destruction.”

The ministry added that Alqasem is free to return to the United States anytime. Bechor said her client still hopes to attend the university and wants to fight the ministry’s decision in Israel, not as a BDS protest, but because she can’t afford to fly back and forth while the case continues.

To their credit, the faculty senate of Hebrew University has condemned Alqasem’s detention and called for her release into Israel. Her case is being heard today by an Israeli court.

As you can guess from what I wrote already, I think the detention of Alqasem is wrong, and that she should be allowed to study in Israel. Yes, she is an apparent supporter of a movement meant to pressure Israel by boycotting its products and visits to the country, and yes, BDS’s aim is clearly the elimination of the state of Israel, although they keep that under wraps. (Their cry, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” is obviously a call for Israel to be eliminated.) But there are already plenty of vociferous critics of Israel who are residents of the country, so what does it matter if they let in a young woman who will join their ranks for a while before returning to the U.S.?

I know that Israel has the right to refuse entry to anyone, as does any country, and that countries like the UK or France often refuse entry to critics. But Alqasem is not a terrorist or someone who poses an immediate danger to Israel. Israel is supposed to be a secular and liberal state, and it’s unseemly to detail Alqasem for a week before deciding whether to let her in. Just let her in, already! It would be a generous gesture, and one that would speak to Israel’s professed freedom of thought and speech.

I agree, then, with the op-ed in yesterday’s New York Times written by Bret Stephens and Bari Weiss (Weiss’s critics will be flummoxed by this one). Click on the screenshot to see it:

Two excerpts from the piece:

Israelis have good reason to see the B.D.S. campaign as a thinly veiled form of bigotry. Boycotts of Jewish businesses have a particularly foul pedigree in Nazi Germany. And the same activists who obsessively seek to punish and isolate Israel for its occupation of the West Bank rarely if ever display the same passion for protesting against China for its occupation of Tibet, or Russia for its occupation of Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

It’s also true that Students for Justice in Palestine has received funding and other assistance from a group called American Muslims for Palestine, some of whose leaders have links to groups flagged by the U.S. Department of the Treasury for their ties to the terrorist group Hamas. The group seeks to end Israel’s “occupation and colonization of all Arab lands” along with “promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes” — language that has long been code for dismantling the Jewish state.

Israel, like all countries, has a right to protect its borders and to determine who is allowed in and out. But Israel is also a state that prides itself on being a liberal democracy — a fact that goes far to explain the longstanding support for Israel among American Jews and non-Jews alike. If liberalism is about anything, it’s about deep tolerance for opinions we find foolish, dangerous and antithetical to our own.

The case for such liberalism today is both pragmatic and principled. In practice, expelling visitors who favor the B.D.S. movement does little if anything to make Israel more secure. But it powerfully reinforces the prejudice of those visitors (along with their supporters) that Israel is a discriminatory police state.

. . . Societies that shun or expel their critics aren’t protecting themselves. They are advertising their weakness.

Stephens and Weiss conclude that critics of Israel should not only be tolerated, but invited to visit the country. Perhaps they’ll change their minds; most likely they won’t. But what does the country have to hide by refusing entry to a student who adheres to BDS? And, as Weiss says, it just makes Israel look illiberal and bad.

h/t: Simon

140 thoughts on “Critic of Israel denied chance to study in that country

  1. Twenty years ago protests about the Chinese occupation of Tibet seemed to be all over the place, but now you hardly ever see them.

    Odd, that.

    1. I once blew it with a rather lovely Chinese woman while in university (early 2000’s) when I asked, quite naively, how she viewed Tibet. She never answered and never spoke to me again. Hmmm…wonder why I’m still single? Oh yeah, it’s that size 12 foot I keep firmly lodged in my mouth!

    2. One day all my left wing friends were screaming about Argentinian junta. The very next day they were applauding them. Jacobo Timerman was a hero one day, the next, he disappeared. Funny.

  2. As English is not my first language I consulted dictionaries:

    Oxford English Dictionary definition of the word detain: “keep (someone) in official custody typically for questioning about a crime or in a politically sensitive situation”.
    Cambridge English dictionary definition of the word detain: “to force someone officially to stay in a place”.

    Conslusion: Ms. Alqasem is not detained in Israel. She is free to leave the airport in any direction in the world she wishes. She is just not allowed to go into Israel. Nobody is detaining her. She stays where she is because she wants to force Israeli authorities to let her in.

    Some years ago, when Omar Barghouti, the founder of BDS movement, calling for boycott everything Israeli, was at the same time studying at Tel Aviv university, I couldn’t believe the stupidity of the university and Israeli authorities who agreed to give such priviledge to their mortal enemy. I think at least the state authorities got a bit wiser by barring entry to such enemies.

    1. “Israel is supposed to be a secular and liberal state, and it’s unseemly to detail Alqasem for a week before deciding whether to let her in. Just let her in, already!”

      Yes, I thought “detained” was a strange word to use, as she is very clearly not being detained and even says as much. Furthermore, any update on the comment you wrote in response to this yesterday, regarding Alqasem’s previous support for those who murdered Israeli civilians and other such activities? Because Jerry doesn’t mention these things in this post and, if they’re correct, they significantly change how one should view this situation, and maybe how Jerry would view it.

    2. Sorry, in case I wasn’t clear: you are correct that “detain” means to forcefully keep someone in a place. In the US, 99% of the time we hear the word it’s in the context of police or other law enforcement locking up arrestees, illegal immigrants, or others suspected of or found to be breaking the law. Very occasionally, someone like me will use the word in a context where it’s meant to show exasperation at something that took up one’s time and couldn’t be escaped (e.g. “Sorry I’m late getting home, honey, but the boss detained me and I couldn’t get out of the surprise staff meeting”).

          1. Please tell me in each case what the legitimate criticism was. In the first case, it seemed the man was harassing a Muslim woman rather than engaging in legitimate criticism. I can’t tell what the legitimate criticism was in the second case because I’d have to turn off my ad blocker to read the story. The third story doesn’t seem to go into specifics. The BBC story you found from Duck Duck Go also doesn’t go into specifics.

            Two other points:

            I asked for cases of legitimate criticism that have been deemed hate speech, not examples of people who have been arrested or deported for hate speech. I largely disagree with the UK’s anti-hatespeech legislation. I think your examples probably do represent injustice but that is not what I was asking about.

            Also, I know Google is my friend. You don’t need to restate it. The reason I asked Matt for evidence rather than looking for it myself is because he made the claim: he (or his supporters) has to defend it. Telling me “Google is my friend” in these circumstances comes off as a bit passive aggressive.

          1. Is that hate speech? Can you give examples of people in the UK who have been convicted for saying that?

            I don’t think it is legitimate criticism either. In fact I don’t think it is criticism. There’s nothing wrong with being gay. I think, what it is is a troll comment intended to wind up Muslims who do think being gay is wrong.

            1. Lauren Southern set up a table on the sidewalk in Luton and attempted to hand out “allah is gay” flyers. (She chose that phrase after learning of a “gay Christ” painting displayed at a British museum.) After several passersby threatened her, the police arrived & told her she was disturbing the peace and forced her to leave under pain of arrest, confiscating her materials. The UK government subsequently banned Southern from the UK — under its Terrorism Act, no less — expressly citing this incident.

              Southern’s not the brightest bulb in the pack, but her stunt did serve as an indirect criticism of Islam’s anti-gay tenets. And, IIRC, gay pride parades have been forbidden to march through moslem enclaves.

              Local police departments are calling for tips on “non-crime hate speech” that certain “communities” might find upsetting.

              The UK’s hate speech laws are oppressive and illiberal, and efforts are underway to extend them to punish ‘islamophobia’ so broadly defined as to include any & all criticism of Islam.

              1. So it was a troll comment and she was not convicted for saying it. She was not banned from the UK because of our hate speech laws but because of our terrorism law. The actions of the police had nothing to do with what she was saying. The British police have the power to arrest you if you do anything that causes you or somebody else to get beaten up. They’ve had this power since forever.

                Local police departments are calling for tips on “non-crime hate speech” that certain “communities” might find upsetting.

                I think that was one police force on Twitter and they got severely criticised for it.

                I agree that our hate speech laws be repealed. I also think our anti-terrorism laws are far too broadly defined but your assertion was “And its definition of “hate speech” includes legitimate criticism of islam.” I’m yet to see you provide any examples of legitimate criticism that is hate speech under UK law.

      1. Clearly not true that simply being critical of Islam gets you barred from the UK, otherwise they wouldn’t let the likes of Sam Harris in.

        1. Are you claiming that police and government agencies are consistent in their interpretation and application of the law? If so, I must say that your experience is very different from that of everyone else I know. I mean, look at drug use–if an ordinary citizen is caught with certain drugs they get sent to prison, while celebrities get away with either a slap on the wrist or “rehab”.

  3. The irony is that by attemting to enter Israel in order to study there, Lara Alqasem is breaching the BDS policy that she is accused of supporting. She is not allowed to breach the boycott, on the grounds that she supports the boycott. Go reckon

    1. It’s not so strange. Starting with the founder of BDS, Omar Barghuti, many BDS-are were coming to Israel, staging demonstration and events in the country. And they have no intention to give up on all Israeli innovations in their computers and their smartphones or at their doctors. The ultimate aim of BDS is to get rid of Israel. Arab armies didn’t manage. Economic boycott which Arab countries were conducting since early 1920 didn’t manage. Now they attempt to delegitimise and dehumanize Israel in the eyes of the world. BDS leaders know that boycott of a few Israeli vegetables will not harm Israel’s economy. But their actions are perfect for this goal of delegitimize and dehumanize Israel – no cultural or academic exchange, people avoiding Israeli fruit and vegetables – it works. There was a survey showing that after every BDS event on American unniversities the level of oldfashioned antisemitism was significantly higher.

  4. My question would be, why does she want into a country that she is protesting via BDS? I would not let her in. These American reporters on the job here could do far better covering all the nasty stuff this administration has been doing and still is at our boarders. Separating children from parents. Many who will never see their parents again. All caused by the Trump policies. Or maybe they could cover the missing Journalist who Saudi’s dictator most likely killed in Turkey. This guy was living in the states working for an American paper. Trump will do nothing on this because he is a coward.

  5. [Disclaimer: I’m often found to be sympathising with the Palestinians.]

    I’m a little puzzled why a supporter of BDS would want to study in Israel anyway.

    But given that she does, I think it’s unwise for the Israeli government to prevent her, on purely pragmatic grounds. Allowing her in might improve her perception of Israel, and keeping her out certainly won’t help.

    I can’t criticise the Israeli authorities on moral grounds over this one, since every country has the right to refuse foreign nationals and, unfortunately, visas are refused on entirely capricious and arbitrary grounds all the time. I think they’re almost always wrong to do so but everyone does it.


    1. I’m not sure whether or not I agree with Israel’s decision here — I’m waiting for more information to come out about Alqasem first — but I wouldn’t call the grounds for the decision “capricious and arbitrary.” There are specific reasons that Alqasem hasn’t been admitted to the country.

      1. BJ, I wasn’t referring to this decision specifically, I was referring to many visa refusals in general, by many countries. Often it appears like they just didn’t like the politics or the lifestyle of the refusee.

        But they shouldn’t have issued her a visa, then refused her entry – that’s a blunder.


      2. From the Weiss and Stephens NYT piece:

        Gilad Erdan, Israel’s strategic affairs minister, has said she can enter the country on the condition that she renounce her support of the B.D.S. movement.

        Sure makes it sound like Alqasem is being denied entry solely on the basis of a thought crime.

            1. Alqasem was not trying to immigrate. If those people want to visit Canada for a time, the Canucks would every right to deny them entry, as they would anyone else. Like this situation with Israel, however, it may not play well in the media and might (also like this situation) go counter to their claims about openness and democracy. The Canadians, like the Israelis (and everyone else), ought to think carefully before enforcing their rights.

              Anyway, there is a world of difference between immigration and a visa for short term visit

              1. Well I am not talking perception. BJ said this was a clear case of a moral wrong, barring her because of what she advocates. I don’t find that quite so clear (and your comment indicates you don’t either).

              2. As mikeyc said, this is about letting her visit. If she was trying to immigrate, I would absolutely side with Israel in this case. But I do think it’s wrong to say to someone, “publicly renounce your political view on an economic issue [note: it would be different if she was advocating genocide or outright antisemitism] or you can’t visit our country,” especially once they’ve been given the visa and are at the airport.

                On the other hand, I still want to see if there’s more to Alqasem’s than merely supporting BDS. Malgorzata mentioned some other possible part of her past here.

              3. Studying and living there is a bit more than a visit. But that’s what your moral principle turns on? It’s okay to ban her if she wants to immigrate but not if she only wants to stay a few years?
                Count me unconvinced.

              4. OK, first off, I don’t know why you keep calling this a “moral” stand or view for me. I never said this is morally wrong. This is a question of policy. I have never stated that this is some moral precept.

                And yes, whether someone is immigrating to or temporarily visiting a country makes an enormous difference. A country wouldn’t want to allow immigration of significant numbers of people who believe that it shouldn’t exist (at the very least), but people like that visiting temporarily cannot shift the balance of power or demographics there.

              5. “Clearly wrong” from a policy/political standpoint. I think it’s clearly wrong in the sense that it’s bad for Israel’s image, it’s bad policy due to the effects it will have. I think the fact that it’s the “wrong” choice is clear, at least to me. I am not making a moral judgment.

            2. Of course Israeli has the “right” to exclude Alqasem, as any country does any foreign national. The question is whether this is a wise and proper exercise of that right. Do you favor Canada’s prohibiting a visit by Steve Bannon or MiYi?

              1. I do not, if “visit” means what visit normally means. But in this case visit means take up residence and stay for an extended period doesn’t it? If Phelps wants to “visit” for a few years and set up shop in my town,I do object.

              2. Ok, but I’m not seeing a clear neutral principle that would admit of bright-line application. Are you suggesting maybe a “one semester” rule?

                Or are you suggesting a sliding scale where the length of one’s permitted stay turns upon how agreeable those in power find one’s political views?

              3. I am only suggesting that it’s not as clear as BJ thinks. I am still undecided. Actually the best argument I have seen here was from a supporter of the ban who says he believes in free speech BUT there are limits. That comment is a very strong argument IMO that *you* are right and we want a clean application of the principle of free speech. A pox on limits.
                Malgorzata makes a case based on inviting someone foreign in who will work for the host’s destruction. Or detrimental if not destruction. I am not convinced yet he doesn’t have a case. Israel really does have enemies.

              4. Ken B: I agree that Malgorzata has a very good point. I only think it’s “clearly wrong” for a high-ranking official to say, “if you publicly say this thing we want you to say, we’ll honor your visa.” That’s a bad look and bad policy.

                If Alqasem is merely a supporter of BDS and has no other skeletons in her closet (like, say, having expressed support for Palestinian terrorists and/or terror tactics, antisemitic remarks, saying things like “we should work to dismantle the state of Israel,” etc.), then I’m pretty undecided on the issue, but lean toward letting her in, if only because they had already given her a visa (if they hadn’t, I might lean the other way). If she does have further skeletons, I am very firmly in the camp for keeping her out.

    2. And one other thing that’s a blunder, at least – they issued her a visa, then refused to let her in. The time to refuse her would have been when she applied for the visa, before she wasted her time and money on the flight and before they incurred the bad publicity of detaining her at the airport.


    3. To attempt an answer to your question: My understanding is that she has family history there and wanted to reconnect to her roots. I can see why she would want to visit, then, even if she opposes the countries current policies.

    1. Well put.

      Being an action against Jews, it requires the usual *double standards may apply. They also don’t smash up their own computers if they contain an Israeli-made ‘Intel’ chip, among a host of other things…

      1. The only reason this is a story at all is the “man bites dog” nature of the situation. In that neighborhood, this kind of behavior wouldn’t routinely merit any notice.

      2. I suggest that would be a silly standard to apply. It would make many modern devices unuseable.

        Intel chips are made in US, China (that place Drumpf wants to have a trade war with), Ireland, Israel, Costa Rica, Malaysia and Vietnam. The alternative – AMD chips are made by Samsung (Korea) and Global Foundries which is Abu Dhabi owned. It can be quite amusing to whip the covers off your PC and read the country of fabrication on any chips you can see.

        I just bought three different sets of Bosch spark plugs from different sources and I notice, to my amusement, they were all made in Russia.

        And so on….


        1. Very true.

          Although setting fire to a pair of Nike trainers because they made an advert you don’t like is a perfectly normal thing to do in today’s America apparently.

          1. Well, I tried to post a response, but it’s awaiting moderation because I included links, and I don’t want to bother Jerry by emailing him to let him know. Anyway, I was just saying that yep, this is something on both sides now. I remember the feminist who took pictures of herself happily tearing up and burning and Christina Hoff Sommers book. I’ll just try posting one link this time:

            That’s Sommers’ tweet about it. If you click on the image, it will take you to imgur with all the photos from the blog post the book-burner made. The post has since been deleted (it was made back in 2014), but the internet never forgets!

  6. Israel may have been a secular and liberal state at one time. Whether that is the case now is far from certain. The threat that a rapidly increasing Arab population represents to maintaining Israel as primarily Jewish as well as the expansionist tendencies of a right-wing government makes one doubt that Israel can be referred to as liberal and secular. This tendency has created a rift between American and Israeli Jews.

    In an article on the Project Syndicate site, Shlomo Ben-Ami, former Israeli foreign minister, presents a stark warning about the future of the country. He concludes: “With the two-state solution all but dead, Israel has determined that its Jewish identity is more important than its democracy. This will be bad not just for its Arab citizens, but ultimately for Jewish Israelis as well.”

    In a Washington Post column, Dana Milbank, who is Jewish, discusses how American and Israeli Jews differ widely in their perceptions of Trump and the way Israel is heading. Trump is popular in Israel while only 34% of American Jews support him. Milbank states this:


    “We are the stunned witnesses of new alliances between Israel, Orthodox factions of Judaism throughout the world, and the new global populism in which ethnocentrism and even racism hold an undeniable place,” Hebrew University of Jerusalem sociologist Eva Illouz wrote in an article appearing this week on Yom Kippur in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper titled “The State of Israel vs. the Jewish people.”

    Netanyahu has undertaken “a profound shift in the state’s identity as a representative of the Jewish people to a state that aims to advance its own expansion through seizure of land, violation of international law, exclusion and discrimination,” she wrote. Israel “will be able to count only on the support of a handful of billionaires and the ultra-Orthodox” in America. “Trumpism is a passing phase in American politics. Latinos and left-wing Democrats will become increasingly involved in the country’s politics, and as they do, these politicians will find it increasingly difficult to justify continued American support of Israeli policies that are abhorrent to liberal democracies. Unlike in the past, however, Jews will no longer pressure them to look the other way.”


    It was a pipe dream to believe that Israel could maintain itself as a liberal and secular democracy while being a Jewish state at the same time. This fantasy approaches a self-evident contradiction. The situation will grow worse as the Arab population grows faster than the Jewish population. If somehow this demographic trend reverses itself, we may have a different story. If Israel should decide to annex any of the occupied territories, the crisis will worsen quickly. At the moment, at least, it seems clear that Israel has decided to maintain its Jewish identity in preference to its liberal democratic one, which includes a marriage of convenience with right wing Christians. I don’t think this is surprising and arguments can be made on both sides to its wisdom. But, the 70 year Middle East crisis will continue with no end in sight.

    1. Donald Trump’s ostensible support for Israel is entirely cynical and transactional. That was made clear when he named as ambassador to Israel a right-wing zealot who has said that Jews who support a two-state solution “are worse than kapos“(the term for Jews who collaborated with the Nazis at the concentration camps) — and when, at Trump’s insistence, two evangelical tv preachers with histories of bigoted remarks against Jews and other non-Christians gave the benedictions at the opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem. The latter was an embarrassment to secular Americans and an affront to the Jews in attendance.

      1. You could replace “Israel” with nearly anything and the first sentence would very likely be true.

        For that matter, you could replace “Donald Trump” with nearly any politician’s name and the first sentence would likely be true. I’m not saying trying to defend Trump here; I just don’t think it’s fair to single him out for this particular moral atrocity.

        1. There’s truth to what you say, but Donald Trump is next-level cynical and mendacious. The man has no discernible principles, merely a personal brand he flogs relentlessly.

    2. I know people in Israel who already think the state of Israel includes Gaza and the West Bank. I think there has already been a de facto annexation which is irreversible. Israel cannot in good faith deny annexation and at the same time exercise control of Gaza and plant settlers in the West Bank. I have no problem with the settlers moving there but if they live there they should be under the jurisdiction of the government of the West Bank. That according to the official position of Israel is not the government of Israel.

    3. Thanks for all the information, Historian.

      The whole world is getting depressing. Almost makes one think a climate change catastrophe is just what we deserve.

  7. I don’t know why some readers thought you would take Israel’s side (or why Bari Weiss’s critics are flummoxed). This is about the application of neutral principles. I’d’ve been surprised (and not in the good way) had you or Bari come down on the other side

    1. I oppose what Israel did here, if Alqasem is merely a supporter of BDS; however, if what Malgorzata here is true, it changes things and makes me significantly less sure of what the right decision is.

  8. The piece I read said she was a former member. If her views have changed that would make a difference. A former member whose views have changed should be admitted.

    If she is a current member and active then I agree with Israel and would keep her out.

  9. I am in favor of free speech and travel but there are limits. I think it perfectly reasonable for a country to deny entry to someone who appears to be their enemy. And to be clear she belongs to a group that is Israel’s enemy – “Their cry, ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,’ is obviously a call for Israel to be eliminated.”

    Remember Israel that been at war for 70 years and is subject to frequent terrorist attacks. This decision makes sense. Israel is always on war footing and it is likely that another terrorist attack will happen this week.

    If she were a citizen, she should (and does) have the right to call for Israel’s destruction. She is not and she has no rights nor expectations of entry.

    1. To clarify, if she had been coming for a few days to talk at a debate or something, then I think she should have been admitted to Israel. Free speech even for your enemies but do not give them an opportunity to work against your existence.

      1. This clarification comment puts its finger on the key issue. This is not just a flying visit to give a speech. It is about residing in Israel for an extended period while advocating and presumably working for its destruction.

  10. Israel remains a secular state. It is not a theocracy and Israeli Arabs have not lost any rights. They remain as part of the Knesset. It remains a democracy.

    All this talk about Israel losing its democracy is because of the passage of the so-called Nation State bill. But there is nothing in that bill which is new, it merely restates and affirms policies that have always been part of Israeli law and tradition.

    And that means that Israel remains the homeland of the Jewish people. Jews have been and remain favored here – but only in one regard: that they can enter and will be offered citizenship. And it is, ironically, only because Israel remains a democracy that this policy is important and will not change.

    That said, there has been a change in Israeli policy, and this change explains why Israel will not allow a BDS supporter to enter. Israel has started a new policy with regard to the issue of whether it will tolerate the very notion of whether it has a right to exist.

    Israel now views the failure to achieve true peace with the Arab world over the past 60 years, as a function of the fact that the Arab world still continues to believe that Israel itself is illegitimate, and that they can achieve their goal of its destruction. Israel believes this is the basis of why the Palestinians have rejected all two-state offers and do not honor their obligations in the accords they have signed.

    Israel will now reject any argument or entity that promotes the concept that Israel is illegitimate. The idea is that true negotiations will not begin with the Arab world until the Arab world comes to grip with the fact that Israel is not going away.

    This policy change is why Trump and Nikki Haley moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

    1. That is often how creeping authoritarianism works — early policy shifts are passed off as mere restatements of existing policy with subtle changes of emphasis, required to meet the expediencies of the moment. (Let us recall that the first change to the commandments written on the barn wall at Animal Farm was from “No animal shall sleep in a bed” to “No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets“; it was not until the penultimate chapter that the pigs got around adopting the single commandment that “some animals are more equal than others.”)

      Sometimes early tremors signal tectonic shifts to come. Let us hope that is not the case with Israel and the Nation-State bill.

        1. Well it’s not far off; often expediencies, instead of reason or justice or even decency, are used by governments when dealing with exigencies.

      1. “Sometimes early tremors signal tectonic shifts to come. Let us hope that is not the case with Israel and the Nation-State bill.”

        Sometimes, but that Nation-State Bill is a mere statement, far less than how the Church of England and its religion is integrated by law into the UK’s systems of government, justice, and monarchy. The bill had been made out to be far more than it is, for the political purposes of groups like BDS.

  11. I hear some people say Jews and non-Jews, or even different types of Jews, have equal rights in Israel and then others say they do not, that some groups have more rights than others.
    I sit on the sidelines with no way yo verify or know who to believe.

    1. There are ways to check it. Look at the law: according to Israeli law all citizens have equal rights. Only differences concern future citizens: Jews from abroad can come to Israel and get citizenship immediately, non-Jews must get a permission to settle in the country and get citizenship after a few years (like in other countries in the world). The other difference is that Jewish citizens (except Haredis) have obligatory conscription. Arabs may serve in the army if they want to, but they are not obliged to do so.
      Law is not enough. Practice matters as well. Look at how many Arabs are studying at the universities, look at Arab representation in Knesset,look at Arab judges (inclusive Supreme Court), Arab doctors, university teachers etc. If you see that non-Jews have a representation in parliament, have political parties, have the same access to education, healthcare and jobs as Jews (which they have), not to mention the obvious: the right to vote, you can start suspecting that, yes, Jewish and non-Jewish citizens of Israel have equal rights.

      1. I understand. The groups are all treated equal except for the groups that are not treated equal. Now I understand. Thank you again for clearing that up for me.

        1. But I don’t understand. Which groups of Israeli citizens are not treated equally according to you? And how? Could you be more specific?

          1. One group is required to serve in the military. Another group is not. That sounds very unfair and inequal to me. But I live in the United States and am not familiar with customs there.

            1. Yes, this is very unfair for Jewish (non-Haredi) youngsters who have to give their best years (between 18 and 22) to the very difficult life in the army and for decades after one month of their lives per year while they are in reserves. At the same time their Arab and Haredi peers can enjoy life, study, wander around the world etc. There are more and more voices in Israel that army should be obligatory for all. The more so that both Haredi and Arab-Israeli young people are volunteering into the army in growing numbers.

              1. The question of whether or not the West Bank is “part of Israel” is very complicated, but I’ll say this: I don’t blame any Israeli who believes it is/should be. Israel captured that territory during the Six-Day War, one of several wars initiated against Israel by its neighbors. It’s hard to sympathize with a group that starts multiple wars and then whines about how unfair it is that they lost. Moreover, Israel has, on multiple occasions during negotiations seeking a two-state solution, offered to completely relinquish the territory to a Palestinian state. In the 90’s, Israel offered nearly every concession the Palestinian side demanded, and just when it looked like the two-state solution might happen, the Palestinians suddenly pulled out, which was a recurring tactic. Because the PLO, Hamas, etc. never wanted a two-state solution; the very existence of Israel is intolerable to them, and nothing but its destruction will be considered acceptable.

              2. I don’t blame them either if they think it is.
                But to me it is not a question that is at dell complicated. It’s a simple yes or no question.

              3. I see where you’re coming from, but I think the answer will be different for different people, and I think a lot of people’s answers may amount to “I don’t know.” That’s my (shorter) answer. I think Israel rightfully gained that territory through a war it didn’t want or start. I think it would be good if it could relinquish the West Bank in exchange for a two-state solution. But, since the Palestinians will never accept a two-state solution, keeping the West Bank at the very least occupied seems like the best decision for the security of Israel. Then there’s the whole question of international law, which is never on Israel’s side in anything.

                So, I think it’s much more complicated than it might seem.

              4. I agree that many people will answer the question differently. That is why I asked the question. Call it an unscientific poll of one person.

                The history of the region is very complicated and disputed.

                I think it is important to find out where different people stand on issues.

              5. “… rightfully gained that territory through a war …”

                I think that’s in the nature of an oxymoron, BJ, since, per international law, land taken by conquest during war does not rightfully belong to the victor.

                Now that’s a fairly recent 20th-century concept, and it might not seem fair to single out Israel for its violation, but I think it’s counterproductive to claim it as “rightful.”

              6. There is a difference in international law between land gained in OFFENSIVE war (forbidden) and land gained in DEFENSIVE war (accepted).

              7. It’s a very complicated problem in the international law and it touches on definitions of “aggressive war”, “just war”, defensive war” all of which have a huge literature and diverse interpretations. I’m not a lawyer so I suggest you check all these names of different wars. You can also have a look at this:
                One thing is sure – there is no blank prohibition of acquiring land in any kind of war as is the (false) conviction of so many.

              8. Thanks for the information.
                In the past states would acquire property by “right of conquest.”

                Russia just acquired part of East Ukraine. They did not claim right if conquest. I believe they said it was a breaking away by citizens of Ukraine. Don’t remember their exact explanation. It was something clever and transparent. Land grab is a more current term. There are other terms sometimes used.

              9. Ken, I’m interested in your response to Malgorzata’s followup. The land was not gained by “conquest,” but in a defensive war.

                Old Guy: yes, what Russia did with Ukraine was it built up a huge military presence on the border, fomented disorder, essentially annexed the land (without saying so), then created a “referendum” so people there could supposedly vote on whether they wanted to be a part of Russia or remain a part of Ukraine. Unsurprisingly, the vote for becoming part of Russia came out to nearly 100% 😛

              10. @BJ

                A nation that seizes land from an enemy during war in the exercise of self-defense may occupy that land only so long as the occupation is necessary to its self-defense (per my understanding of international law. Caveat: I’m not an international-law expert).

                This is the basis on which I’ve always defended Israel’s occupation of the West Bank — it’s ongoing occupation has been necessary to Israel’s continuing security.

                The conquest of land during war — even a purely defensive war — does not give the conquering nation any rightful claim to permanent occupation (much less annexation) of the conquered land.

              11. Well, Ken, that happens to be almost exactly what I said about it as well:

                “But, since the Palestinians will never accept a two-state solution, keeping the West Bank at the very least occupied seems like the best decision for the security of Israel.”


              12. “the West Bank is a part of Israel or is it another country?”

                As far as I can tell, the West Bank (and Gaza) are part of Israel according to international law.

                The Mandate of Palestine established the boundaries of Palestine and was agreed to by all relevant parties – including all the Arab states involved. Indeed , the boundaries of many of the current Arab states were determined and made official by this Mandate.

                This Mandate was operative at the time of the Independence of Israel in 1948, which means the Mandate, under international law, defined the official boundaries of Israel. At that time, Israel’s boundaries included what is now known as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

                Israel was then the victim of a war of aggression by combined Arab states, including Jordan (ironically, created b the same Mandate)who then seized and illegally occupied the West Bank (and Gaza) from Israel. These same territories were then liberated by Israel back to itself in the war in 1967. Jordan relinquished any claims to the West Bank in a treaty in 1994.

                Resolutions by the U.N. have no standing as international law. Even if they did, the various truce lines demarcating various sections of the West Bank were officially temporary. Therefore, the West Bank was and still is, part of Israel, according to international law as it is applied everywhere else in the known Universe.

  12. If the US prevented visitors and students who opposed the US government from entering the country, we’d lose half our tourism trade lol.

    I agree with Jerry; take the high road. Let her in despite her opposition to your country. A semester studying will provide a much better chance of changing her mind than demanding she change it as a condition to entry.

  13. I had never heard of BDS before I read the post. After looking it up to service what the uproar was all about I don’t see any reason not to let her in. Dialogue is the only the thing that is going to help that situation. Daylight and transparency will help.

      1. Do not believe that us what they believe. That is why you should speak to them. You just may be misinformed.
        And discussion and dialogue can change minds.

  14. To Old Guy. Your question “Do you think the West Bank is a part of Israel or is it another country?” cannot be answered with simple yes or no. First, there are two “nos”: no, West Bank is not a part of Israel (Israel didn’t annex it, inhabitants are not Israeli citizens, Israeli law is not valid on this territory). But also no, it’s not a part of another country. The territory was supposed to be Jewish according to both the decision of League of Nations from 1922, as according to Article 80 U.N. from 1945. (After collapse of the Ottoman Empire there was no other country it belonged to except British Mandate with the ultimate goal to establish a Jewish state there). However in the war 1948, when Arab countries attacked Israel, Jordan occupied West Bank and illegally annexed it into Jordan (until then it was called Judea and Samaria. “West Bank” is the name given by Jordanian occupiers.) and gave Jordanian citizenship to all it’s inhabitants after killing and ethnic cleansing of Jews who lived there – not one Jew was allowed to remain. After attacking Israel again 1967 Jordan lost this territory and later on renounced all claims to this land as well as removed Jordanian citizenship from inhabitants. So, you see, there are many stateless people on Earth but there are not many stateles geographic areas. West Bank is stateless. For now it’s divided into Three areas: Area A under the rule of Palestinian Authority; Area B where the authority is shared between PA and Israel (together comprising some 95% of West Bank’s population); and Area C under the sole administration of Israel. Do you still think that a simple answer yes or no is possible in such complicated situation?

    1. Yes, I do. You gave a simple no to my first question and to my second question which you also answered no.

      Your answers were simple no’s.

      The history and implications of the answers are complicated and disputed.

      But your basic answer is a very simple no and no.

      A lot of people disagree with your answers. I just wanted to get your take on what your opinion is and where you stand.

      1. Malgorzata’s comments on this subject tend to be “lawyers’ briefs” in support of one side — well-argued and well-reasoned and well-supported, but tendentious accounts making the best case for Israel, rather than the detached analysis of a neutral (and hypothetical) “honest-broker.”

        I mean that as no slight, merely an observation. I often agree with her, and always find her comments on Israel-related topics enlightening.

        1. Just out of curiosity: in what sense is my answer tendencious? Which facts (I stress FACTS not OPINIONS) did I omit?

          1. I haven’t contended you’ve omitted facts. You’ve simply marshaled the facts (and, where applicable, the law) in the light most favorable to Israel.

            That’s not a knock. Heck, that kind of advocacy is what I do on behalf of clients all the time.

            1. I’m still curious. “Tendencious” is rather pejorative – its’ cherry picking facts, ommitiing relevant facts, interpreting dubious facts in a positive light. I think I got relevant facts, I didn’t interpret them, I didn’t (consciously) omit any other relevant facts. And I’m not a lawyer and never had any clients. I admit that I have an predilection to facts and I dislike “narratives”. Does it makes me tendecious?

          2. You omitted the 1948 armistice between Israel and Jordan which gave Jordan the right to the West Bank. That meant that Jordan’s pre 1967 possession of the West Bsnk was not unlawful as you implied. That is a very pertinent fact that you omitted.

            1. Armistice with Jordan was 1949 and in no way Israel gave Jordan any rights, nor Jordan gave Israel any rights. It was just ending of fire exchange as both sides were too exhausted to go on. Jordan annexation of the West Bank was deemed illegal by U.N., by Arab League and by most of other countries in the world. Only Great Britain recognizeded it. Wikipedia states that it was also recognized by U.S. State Department (but not by U.S. as a state – I’ve never heard about it and don’t have time to dig up any other sources) and possibly also Pakistan.

              1. Thanks for being so patient and sharing this information. My guess is that you and I and Ken are not the only people who will read these comments.

              2. I, for one, appreciate your desire to learn more about the situation, Old Guy, regardless of how you end up viewing the issue after learning more.

              3. I just see it as stalemate. I don’t see any possible solution.

                According to the U.N. panel report on climate change that was released Monday civilization as we know it will probably end this century. Particularly in the lowlands near oceans and seas. No one will be occupied in land in Gaza and the West Bank. It will most likely Be submerged under the Mediterranean Sea.

              4. Your guess is incorrect. At least I read some of your conversation. I’m sure others did too. You learn a lot on WEIT.

              5. Ha. I missed the not. OK, I guess you is rite after all. 😎

                Interesting discussion all around. It seems amazing that the Israeli/Palestinian issue goes back to the 1940s and is still pretty much at the same point it was then. No progress. When will it every end. Is it worth even trying?

              6. 😀 I’ve done the exact same thing before. Guess there’s a little Emily Litella in each of us.

  15. I think that nice people and countries should put limits to the exploitation of their niceness by enemies. Israel is told that she is obliged to let in her self-proclaimed enemies, otherwise she is looking illiberal and undemocratic, not committed to free speech, and weak. I think it is better to look weak and so on than let in one’s enemies. Democratic societies always look weak, and one reason for looking weak is that they are weak.
    This said, the Israelis should not have issued the BDS supporter a visa in the first place.

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