Reform movement slams Israel’s boycott law as anti-democratic

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — The Union for Reform Judaism criticized Israel’s new law banning entry to boycott supporters as anti-democratic.

The URJ, which has the largest membership of any Jewish denomination, said it opposes both the law and boycotts of Israel.

“We are frustrated that by passing this law, the Israeli government has in essence posted a giant sign by the door of the Jewish state saying, ‘Don’t come unless you agree with everything we’re doing here,’” Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the URJ’s president, said in a statement to JTA on Thursday. “What kind of democracy makes that kind of statement?”

The law, adopted Monday by the Knesset, bans entry to foreigners who publicly call for boycotting the Jewish state or its settlements.

Several Jewish American groups have condemned the new law, including the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee. The URJ was the first religious movement to make a statement on the new law.

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According to the law, the ban applies to any foreigner “who knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel that, given the content of the call and the circumstances in which it was issued, has a reasonable possibility of leading to the imposition of a boycott – if the issuer was aware of this possibility.” It includes those who urge limiting boycotts to areas under Israeli control, such as the West Bank settlements.

Some backers of the law say it will be used only against those active in organizations that support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, and would not block an individual for something she or he might once have said.