Arab MK demands right to receive BDS funding for anti-Israel US tour

Youssef Jabareen has appealed a Knesset committee’s ban on his all-expenses paid US speaking tour sponsored by an extremist left-wing pro-BDS group.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Joint List member of Knesset Youssef Jabareen followed through Sunday on his promise to appeal to the High Court of Justice (HCJ) the Knesset Ethics Committee’s ruling last month that he could not be sponsored for a week-long speaking tour by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), a group notorious for its efforts to get boycott legislation passed and companies and individuals to shun the Jewish state.

It was the first time the committee used a new amendment to its rules that enables it to prevent such anti-Israel organizations from sponsoring MKs to participate in their events. At the same sitting, the committee barred fellow Joint List MK Hanin Zoabi from accepting funding from an Irish pro-BDS group to attend a conference in that country.

This will be the first time that the Knesset’s rule will be tested in court, with Jabareen represented by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. The group put out a statement saying that it will argue to the HCJ that the rule “directly harms political freedom of expression and the right to free movement for Knesset members,” and that the parliament should not be allowed to “limit [Jabareen’s] legitimate parliamentary activity.”

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What Adalah called “legitimate parliamentary activity” included receiving payment to speak at a series of American college campuses and think tanks on “the deterioration of democracy in Israel, including the latest discriminatory laws.”

As reported Friday in the Jerusalem Post, according to the Anti-Defamation League, JVP is “the largest and most influential Jewish anti-Zionist organization in the US.” Meanwhile, its on-campus partner is the virulently anti-Israel Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which is run by a Muslim American who has been closely tied to Hamas funding efforts, the report said.

In the letter to Jabareen explaining their ban, the Ethic Committee had noted that the JVP is on the Strategic Affairs Ministry’s blacklist as one of the leaders in promoting BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) efforts against Israel. They also took into consideration the fact that the organization had invited as a “keynote speaker” Rasmea Odeh, a convicted Palestinian terrorist who played a central role in the 1969 murder of two Israelis in a bombing in Jerusalem. Odeh then lied about her terror convection on US immigration application, resulting in her deportation to Jordan in 2017.