The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and Reconstructionist Rabbinical College are strongly opposed to and deeply disappointed by the Israeli Knesset’s passage of the “Entry Bill.” This law denies entry to foreign visitors who have publicly supported any form of boycott of the State of Israel or boycotts limited to the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
The Entry Bill broadly curtails legitimate civil discourse and liberties, moving the country further away from some of its bedrock principles – robust democracy, open debate, and vigorous pluralism. A democratic state has to be willing to tolerate non-violent political dissent even when its government profoundly opposes the dissenters’ ideas, and one of Israel’s longstanding points of pride has been its commitment to being a state that is both a Jewish homeland and a democracy. This legislation damages Israel’s democratic principles and its international standing as a democracy.
The law also potentially shuts the door on the opportunity for many future visitors to go to Israel and “see for themselves” – an experience that is crucial to the formation of complex, personal, and nuanced understandings of Israeli society.
Finally, coming on the heels of the recently passed law allowing West Bank outposts built by settlers in violation of Israeli law to be legalized retroactively, the Entry Bill is another example of a new law dangerously conflating Israel proper with West Bank settlements. For example, the Entry Bill threatens to turn away at Ben Gurion Airport any foreign visitor who may oppose boycotts against the State of Israel, but who may have supported targeted boycotts of products made in the settlements. Tour groups that have policies of not going over the Green Line as part of their itineraries could be refused entry, as could participants in organizations that have policies of only investing inside of the Green Line. As the New Israel Fund has stated, “By conflating boycotts of settlements with boycotts of the State of Israel itself, the legislation makes common cause with Israel’s adversaries who see no distinction between the legitimacy of the vibrant democracy that exists within Israel’s pre-1967 borders and the profoundly undemocratic reality that exists in the occupied territories.” We agree.