PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Israel is banning activists associated with a Philadelphia-based Quaker organization from entering the country.
The American Friends Service Committee is among 20 international advocacy groups on a blacklist, because they promote a boycott campaign of Israel.
The AFSC says the Israeli government is trying to “silence and constrain human rights.” Mike Merryman-Loetz, the AFSC’s Middle East Program director, says they support the boycott to exert economic and political pressure on Israel.
He explained the boycott would continue “until the occupation has ended, and there’s equality between Palestinians and Israelis.”
AFSC has strong views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, advocating a two-state solution. It condemns both Israeli settlements and the West Bank separation barrier.
The same group was given the 1947 Nobel Peace Prize for helping Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust.
The group Jewish Voices for Peace was also banned. A member of the Philadelphia chapter of JVP, Marta Guttenberg, says they’re “informed by Jewish values,” but also embrace “the rights and dignity of Palestinians.”
He added “We’re not trying to harm anybody. We’re trying to be helpful.”