Dr. Isabel Phiri, Associate General Secretary for the World Council of Churches for Public Witness and Diakonia (serving the poor and oppressed), was blocked on Monday from entering Israel after landing at Ben-Gurion Airport with a tourist visa.
The World Council of Churches (WCC) established several highly biased and politicized groups including the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), which brings activists to Israel to gather images and stories of Israeli Jews oppressing Palestinians. Through various organizations and campaigns, the WCC promotes BDS and demonizes Israel for its “apartheid,” “collective punishment,” “war crimes” against Palestinians, and “illegal occupation of Palestinian lands.”
After consultations between the Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, the Immigration Authority, and the Strategic Affairs Ministry, Deri decided to refuse entry to Phiri.
This is the first time the State of Israel has refused entry to someone with a tourist visa for promoting boycotts against it.
Minister Deri said that the authority given to the Interior Ministry in this area was specifically intended for situations like this in which passengers arrive in Israel disguised as tourists, when they are in fact trying to promote anti-Israel activity. “To approve the entry of activists like Phiri would strengthen their unacceptable activities, and I have no intention of giving this to them. I will use all my authority to prevent damage to Israel.”
Strategic Affairs Minister, Gilad Erdan, who is responsible for the government’s anti-BDS operations, concurred in the decision, saying, “We will continue to work to prevent the entry of BDS activists into Israel, as their purpose is to harm the State of Israel by gathering information and presenting it in a false and distorted manner in order to harm Israel in the world. These activists need to remain outside the borders of Israel, and we will continue to work in every possible way to prevent them from entering our country.”