Several advocacy and rights groups throughout the United States are calling for the U.S. government to issue an entry ban on Bezalel Smotrich, Israel’s finance minister, after Smotrich called for Huwwara to be “wiped out” earlier this week.
Through multiple statements, several groups, including rabbinical groups and organizations that focus on Middle East human rights in the U.S., are calling for Washington to refuse the far-right Israeli financial minister a visa for the comments that he made.
On Wednesday, Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) called for the U.S. to revoke Smotrich’s visa and for sanctions against him. DAWN is saying that his comments could lead to “incitement of genocide.”
“The U.S. should immediately sanction Bezalel Smotrich for directly and brazenly encouraging mass violence against civilians,” Dawn’s advocacy director for Israel-Palestine, Adam Shapiro, said in a statement.
“The United States must not give the impression that it condones his hateful and violent ideology and policies, and anything less would make the Biden administration culpable in whatever violence comes next.”
The Adalah Justice Project started an online petition demanding the Israeli finance minister be banned from entering the United States. The petition has already received more than 3,000 signatures.
“A state representative calling for the burning of homes and killing of people should not be given a platform to spread his racism and incite more violence against Palestinians,” the Adalah Justice Project communications director, Sumaya Awad, recently said in an interview with the Middle East Eye.
Awad continued by saying that the United States must also be pressured into banning groups “from raising money for illegal settlements built on Palestinian land and whose occupants most recently set ablaze the Palestinian village of Huwware.”
U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price was asked during a press briefing on Thursday if the U.S. would issue an entry ban on Smotrich.
“We don’t speak to individual visa records, nor as a general matter, to a particular individual’s eligibility for a U.S. visa,” Price answered.
On Wednesday, Price called Smotrich’s remarks “disgusting” and “repugnant” and called for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to deny support or responsibility for the comments made by the finance minister.
Beth Miller, the political director of Jewish Voice for Peace Action, recently said that “it is time for Biden to end U.S. complicity in Israel’s violent apartheid. Under no circumstances should Bezalel Smotrich be permitted to visit the U.S.”
Jewish Americans becoming fed pp with the Israeli government
Israeli settlers invaded Palestinian villages and towns last Sunday after two Israelis were shot and killed in Huwwara earlier in the day. During the invasion of Huwwara and other villages that followed, at least one Palestinian was killed and almost 400 others were wounded. Israeli police have arrested 10 settlers suspected of being involved in the invasions.
Multiple Israeli politicians, including Smotrich, encouraged and even supported the settlers’ attack before and while it was happening. Smotrich is expected to visit the U.S. later in March. He will be meeting with Israeli bonds organizations based out of New York.
The finance minister doesn’t have meetings scheduled with the Biden administration. Two U.S. officials told Axios, “even if he asked for meetings with Biden officials, he likely wouldn’t get them.”
Along with progressive Jewish organizations and rights groups, multiple liberal Zionist groups also condemn Smotrich’s remarks and call for his entry into the U.S. to be denied. Americans for Peace Now, a pro-Israel group, has started circulating its petition. It is urging President Biden to deny Smotrich entry.