The Supreme Court this morning discussed a petition by BDS operative Omar Shakir against the Interior Minister’s decision not to extend his work visa in Israel because of his statements and operations against Israel.
Justices Neil Hendel, Yael Wilner, and Noam Solberg heard the parties, including “Friends of the Court” – a so-called amnesty organization that supports the appellant, and the organizations that have joined the State: Shurat Hadin, Palestine Media Watch, and the Legal Forum for Israel.
Attorney Dr. Harel Arnon represented the Legal Forum and attacked the appellant’s claim that it was a violation of his constitutional right to remain in the country: “The right to obtain a visa to enter the State is not a constitutional right. This is similar to a person who enters Israel as a tourist and then demands to stay there by the Law of Return, even though he’s not Jewish.”
Beyond the administrative argument, there is also the value-based argument. “The Boycott Law is a valid decision by the Legislature, who chose to whom to grant the right of entry to Israel. Indeed, it is a law that determines what is beyond the legitimate discourse, and boycott is outside legitimate discourse.
“Just like Article 7A of the Basic Law: The Knesset, which prohibits those who call for racism from running for the Knesset, and excludes racial discourse, so does the Boycott Law decides what exceeds the limits of freedom of expression. This is because the Knesset found it necessary to protect a value that’s pretty important: preventing boycotts. The State of Israel tells the appellant: ‘Do you want an entry key? You won’t get it if your entire intention is to hurt us.’ The boycott illegitimate because its entire intention is to harm, with unconventional weapons, free Israeli society,” comments Arnon.
The Supreme Court judges will decide the appeal at a later date.