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The Only Democracy? » Human Rights Activists in the Crosshairs » Israeli democracy makes form of protest illegal

Israeli democracy makes form of protest illegal

There’s a ton of resources on the Israeli anti-boycott law, thanks to the groups in American and Israel who have condemned it across the political spectrum. But I will post groups we have featured on website before.

First, Boycott from Within, the Israeli group most targeted by the law issued a statement in defiance.

And here’s the Coalition of Women for Peace, whose video campaign targeted the law before it passed.


Orly Noy from "We Will Still Resist Campaign"

A new law passed July 11 in the Israeli Knesset. The law seriously harms freedom of expression and freedom of association, and is expected to protect the illegal West Bank settlements in Israeli law, by penalizing their opponents.
Hours before the vote, Eyal Yanon, the legal advisor of the Knesset, released a legal opinion criticizing the law as “bordering illegality and perhaps beyond”. He stated the the law clearly violates the freedom of expression in Israel. This argument apparently was not convincing for the 47 MKs who voted for the bill, to 38 who objected.

The ‘Law for Prevention of Damage to the State of Israel through Boycott – 2011? prohibits the public promotion of boycott by Israeli citizens and organisations, and, in some cases, agreement to participate in a boycott. It forbids not only a boycott of Israeli institutions but also of the illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It will enable settlers or other parties targeted by boycotts to sue anyone who calls for boycott, and the court may award compensation including punitive damages, even if no actual damage is caused to the boycotted parties.

The law will revoke tax exemptions and other legal rights from Israeli activists, organisations and institutions if they “engage in boycott”. This means that peace and human rights organisations “engaged in boycott” will not be able to receive funding from the EU and other public institutions.
Israeli businesses and industries will also be penalised by the law, if they work with the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian companies and accept their conditions that exclude trade with businesses that also trade with settlements.

In Israel, as well as in the rest of the world there is extensive use of boycott as a means to achieving social and consumer ends. The new law is targeting only a very specific form of calls to boycott, of groups and movements of the opposition, who resist the occupation. As such, this law tramples upon the civil rights of a political minority and has a “chilling effect” on civil society.

In addition to extensive mobilization of civil society and international community in objection to this bill, it was met with harsh criticism from government offices, including the attorney’s office who called it borderline unconstitutional). Several MKs from the coalition who previously signed on the bill, later withdrew their support.

Journalist Mya Guarnieri reminds us  in Huffington Post that the alarm for Israeli democracy should have been wrung long ago.

Finally, a new documentary about the military “justice” system that has always made Palestinian protest illegal

Sorry Video clip taken down at request of producers, was not a final cut.

Written by

JESSE BACON (Philadelphia) is a freelance activist and father. He has a Masters in teaching from Roosevelt University in Chicago. He is an observant progressive Jew, and is trying to be a good ally for Palestinians and all dispossessed peoples, while staying true to the best traditions in Judaism. He visited Israel and Palestine in 1996, 2001, and 2002. He served for three years on the local steering committee of Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago, and one year on the board of Pursue the Peace in Seattle. Read his posts here.

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