Anuar Majluf, director of the Palestinian Federation of Chile, is urging his country to refuse entry to Israeli tourists if Israel persists in barring Chilean citizens from Palestine.
Majluf was refused entry by Israel on Monday as he traveled with a delegation to his ancestral homeland for Easter.
“I feel terrible pain because I’m now unable to visit my family’s homeland, as a Chilean citizen with a Palestinian lineage,” Majluf said in a statement from the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the civil society coalition that leads the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) for Palestinian rights.
“On the other hand, I know that what I suffer is nothing compared to the suffering of the many Palestinians who, if they dare to defy Israel’s policies, often end up dead, tortured or in the prisons of the occupation,” Majluf added.
Majluf said that Israeli authorities handed him a document pointing to the new Israeli law that prohibits entry to BDS supporters.
Gilad Erdan, Israel’s strategic affairs minister who is in charge of the government’s efforts to thwart the global Palestine solidarity movement, told Israeli media that the action against Majluf was because of his support for BDS.
“The days when foreign BDS activists that want to harm Israel are coming here and acting freely are over,” Erdan said. “We will not allow entry to our country’s enemies.”
Last month, Israel denied entry to Hugh Lanning, the chair of the UK’s Palestine Solidarity Committee, citing similar reasons.
Majluf was reportedly refused entry to the occupied West Bank as he tried to enter through the land crossing from Jordan.
Israel’s action has been condemned by Arab and Palestinian diaspora groups across Latin America:
“The international community, and the Chilean government specifically, should at least demand an explanation from the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, and demand that Israel stop illegitimately denying entry to international supporters of Palestinian rights,” Majluf said.
“If the Israeli government refuses to comply, the Chilean government should act reciprocally and refuse entry to Israeli citizens who come as tourists to Chile. If Israel knew that its repressive actions and laws have consequences, it would be much less likely to enact them.”
Chilean Senator Eugenio Tuma Zedán also urged his government to vigorously protest Israel’s action.
“As Chile allows the free entry and passage of Israeli citizens, it is unacceptable that Israel openly violates the rights of Chilean citizens,” Tuma Zedán said.
The lawmaker added that barring someone’s entry based on their political thoughts was even less acceptable given Israel’s “illegitimate” control of entry to Palestine as an occupying power.
Lawmaker Gustavo Hasbún has also called on Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet to protest the Israeli action.
“Israel’s barring of a respected activist from Chile is a desperate attack on our growing human rights movement,” Palestinian BDS National Committee general coordinator Mahmoud Nawajaa said.
The barring of Majluf, “a Christian who was on a delegation to visit the Holy Land this Easter, is another low for Israel,” Nawajaa added.