A Jewish Rabbi has been prevented from boarding a flight to Israel over his support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP) said in a press statement yesterday.
Rabbi Alisa Wise, deputy director for JVP, was one of five members of an interfaith delegation who were prevented from checking in to their Lufthansa flight. An employee at Dulles International Airport in Washington informed the group that the Israeli government had ordered the airline prevent some of the delegates from travelling.
Two other Jewish members of JVP, which has openly endorsed the BDS movement and criticised Israel's policies towards Palestinians, were also prohibited from boarding. This is believed to be the first time that Jews have been denied entry to Israel due to their political opinions.
Rabbi Wise condemned the government's decision: "Israel denied me the ability to travel there because of my work for justice for Palestinians, even though I'm Jewish and a rabbi."
I'm heartbroken and outraged. This is yet another demonstration that democracy and tolerance in Israel only extends to those who fall in line with its increasingly repressive policies against Palestinians.
Muslim and Christian community leaders were among the delegates who were denied entry. The other 18 members of the Interfaith Network for Justice in Palestine were allowed into Israel after hours of detention and interrogation. The group plans to meet with numerous faith-based organisations in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories to promote dialogue and understanding.
In March, the Knesset approved legislation barring entry to those who advocated for a boycott of Israel and, earlier this month, the Jerusalem Post reported that many activists from interfaith delegations planned over the summer would also be denied.