'Arrest me': Canberra woman successfully defies new Israeli law

Canberra woman Judy Bamberger dared Israeli authorities to arrest her when she arrived in the country last week and they didn't.

Ms Bamberger defied a new law that forbids entry to foreign nationals who call for economic, cultural or academic boycotts of either Israel or the settlements.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade notified Australians of the new law in its travel advice for Israel.

"Israeli authorities have advised that travellers who arrive with the intention of protesting Israeli policies [including as part of flotillas] may be refused entry to Israel and returned to their country of embarkation on the next available flight," the Smart Traveller website says.

"On March 6, the Israeli Parliament passed a law which gives Israeli officials authority to deny entry to foreign nationals who have called for, or belong to organisations which have called for, a boycott of Israel or Israeli settlements."

In a letter to The Canberra Times on March 10, Ms Bamberger wrote: "I urge those able to boycott all things economic, cultural, and academic originating from all Israeli settlements in West Bank and East Jerusalem [to do so].

"I write this fully aware of the possibility that my call has a reasonable possibility of leading to the imposition of a boycott."

Ms Bamberger added she would be arriving at Ben Gurion Airport on March 21 and gave the flight details.

"Arrest me," she said.

Ms Bamberger also had her letter published in Israel's Haaretz newspaper.

Haaretz had a journalist and photographer at the airport, who observed the 64-year-old O'Connor resident emerge triumphantly from the arrivals hall.

She told the journalist that if she had been detained or deported, it would have been worth it.

"I'm hoping more people will push against this law. I'm hoping more people will have the courage and capacity to do civil disobedience, to bring to light discriminatory laws," Haaretz reported her saying.

"I figure if I shine enough of a light on myself when I do this, hopefully I won't get harassed. And if I do get harassed even with the light shining, well, then I get the opportunity to tell a story. And it's the story that's important, not me."

In her March 10 letter to The Canberra Times, Ms Bamberger described herself as Jewish, American, Australian.

"From 1973, I volunteered in Israel; beginning 2001, I volunteered in Palestine. From Israeli kibbutzim to Palestinian villages, I work with mums, dads, kids helping them survive wars, incursions, rockets, occupation," she said.

"Now a 'sister' and 'auntie' to many on the West Bank, I know they want the same things you and I want: security, safety, stability, hope, a decent life and a future for their next generations.

"Settlements and the occupation deny these things to Palestinians and Israelis both. Financial, social, economic, cultural, psychological damage devastates both occupy-er and occupy-ee."

Civil rights activists have said the new law violates democratic rights.

This story 'Arrest me': Canberra woman successfully defies new Israeli law first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.