In an exclusive interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, American philosopher Cornel West criticised an Israeli law banning supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) saying "it's a sad moment when Einstein would not be able to get into the country of his own people."
The American philosopher and political activist was commenting on a new Israeli law to deny entry to foreigners who call for a boycott of the country or settlements, stating that the ban "proves occupation was devouring its democratic soul".
West has been a sharp critic of Israel over the years and one of the most prominent voices for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS).
In his conversation with Haaretz, West voiced concern for the future of democracy in Israel, in light of the legislation. He suggests that the law is a betrayal of a tradition of Jewish philosophers committed to human rights, such as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a Jewish theologian who once marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma.
He mentioned that Einstein would turn over in his grave over Israel's policy.
"With this particular act, Einstein could not go to Israel. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, if he were alive and had a critique of the occupation, or said people have a right to boycott, he could not go."
"Does this mean that Israel actually is ready to turn its back on some of its prophetic figures, who themselves were Jewish? Even in terms of the internal dynamics of the Jewish community, and the Israeli community, it's a sad moment when an Einstein would not be able to get into the country of his own people."