dinsdag 12 juli 2011

Knesset neemt wet aan om boycot oproepen tegen Israel te verbieden

 

The new law allows citizens to bring civil suits against persons and organizations that call for economic, cultural or academic boycotts against Israel, Israeli institutions or regions under Israeli control. It also prevents the government from doing business with companies that initiate or comply with such boycotts.

Elkin defended the measure, calling it “vegetarian” and saying that its meat was removed when the clause making boycotts a criminal offense was removed.

“The law says that if you harm me [with a boycott], I have the right to ask for damages, and if you boycott the State of Israel, don’t ask it for benefits,” he said. “It was significantly softened.”

Het lijkt me wat vergezocht om dit met de Sovjet Unie en de Gulags te vergelijken zoals een Knessetlid dat tegen was deed. Ik vind het eerlijk gezegd niet zo vreemd dat Israel op deze manier actie onderneemt tegen boycots van eigen bodem. De boycotbeweging is uit op Israels delegitimatie en vernietiging, niet op vrede en een tweestatenoplossing. Dat blijkt uit talloze uitspraken van boycotters zoals Mustafa Barghouti, een leider van de BDS beweging. Ik vind het zelf ook wat vreemd wanneer Israelische organisaties of instituten oproepen tot het boycotten van hun eigen land. Je kunt hier natuurlijk tegenin brengen dat de wet ook geldt voor boycots gericht op de nederzettingen, maar in de praktijk is dat onderscheid soms moeilijk te maken.

 

Deze wet heeft natuurlijk alles te maken met de wereldwijde delegitimatiecampagne tegen Israel. Men voelt zich bedreigd, en men ziet vooral ook hoezeer antizionistische of zeer kritische organisaties in Israel worden aangehaald en hoeveel invloed zij hebben op de publieke opinie elders. Wanneer Israelische soldaten vertellen over mensenrechtenschendingen maakt dat meer indruk dan wanneer iemand zomaar wat roept over Israelische misdaden. Dat tegenover die getuigenissen een veelvoud aan ervaringen staat van soldaten die juist tot het uiterste gingen om burgerdoden te voorkomen, dat weet men niet. De kritiek van Israelische mensenrechtenorganisaties is vaak hard en eenzijdig, en gericht op een publiek dat is groot geworden met het zionistische narratief, met al het positieve dat Israel deed en doet, en de bedreigingen die zij het hoofd moet bieden. Maar elders wordt wat zij zeggen klakkeloos voor waar aangenomen. Daarmee zitten de autoriteiten in Israel behoorlijk in hun maag. Deze organisaties het leven wat lastiger maken is dan een begrijpelijke reactie, maar de kans is groot dat het averechts werkt omdat zij daarmee steeds meer de status van de underdog en de ware helden die opkomen voor het vrije woord en de mensenrechten kunnen aannemen. Ik ben het ook eens met het redactionele commentaar van de JPost onderaan, dat deze wet te ver gaat in het beperken van de vrijheid van meningsuiting.

 

RP

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Anti-boycott bill becomes law after 6-hour Knesset plenum

http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=228896

  
 


Bill approved in final Knesset reading, will provide civil penalties for anyone calling for a boycott on Israel, settlements; Knesset legal adviser says legislation may fail High Court test.

The “Boycott Bill” was approved in its final reading in the Knesset on Monday night, after a plenum discussion that lasted nearly six hours and uncertainty throughout the day as to whether a vote would take place.

The bill passed with 47 in favor and 38 opposed, despite the fact that most Shas lawmakers were absent because of MK Nissim Ze’ev’s daughter’s wedding.
In addition, many cabinet members – including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – did not attend the vote and the Independence faction chose not to participate.
Netanyahu’s spokesman would not comment on why the prime minister did not vote.

Earlier on Monday, the legislation’s sponsor, coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), and like-minded MKs held a press conference in support of the anti-boycott bill, after Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and his deputies voted five to three to bring it to the plenum.
“This bill defends the State of Israel,” Elkin said. “We have no right to ask our allies to do the same, if an Israeli citizen can do as he wishes.”

The new law allows citizens to bring civil suits against persons and organizations that call for economic, cultural or academic boycotts against Israel, Israeli institutions or regions under Israeli control. It also prevents the government from doing business with companies that initiate or comply with such boycotts.

Elkin defended the measure, calling it “vegetarian” and saying that its meat was removed when the clause making boycotts a criminal offense was removed.
“The law says that if you harm me [with a boycott], I have the right to ask for damages, and if you boycott the State of Israel, don’t ask it for benefits,” he said. “It was significantly softened.”

Elkin also said that “full coalition discipline” would be imposed, requiring every member of every coalition faction to vote in favor of the bill. In addition, opposition party National Union announced that it would vote in favor.
However, two hours after the plenum discussion began, Independence announced that, after an emergency meeting, it would vote against, because of “fundamental problems the bill has in relation to freedom of speech.”

On Sunday, the prime minister held a late-night meeting with advisers, and decided not to stop the bill from going to the plenum for a vote.

MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima), one of the bill’s most vocal opponents, sent a letter to Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yinon on Sunday, complaining that the bill may be unconstitutional.
In response, Yinon said the legislation was “borderline illegal,” but that he would not stop the Knesset from voting on it.

“The broad definition [in the law] of a boycott on the State of Israel is a violation of the core tenet of freedom of political expression,” Yinon wrote.
He added that the law’s “goal is to affect the political debate on the future of Judea and Samaria, a debate that has been at the heart of the political debate in the State of Israel for over 40 years.”

During Monday’s press conference, Likud MK Yariv Levin called Plesner’s letter “an attempted legal putsch” and a way to “sabotage the legislative process and sabotage the will of the majority.”
“Israel doesn’t have a constitution,” Levin pointed out. “An attempt to create one in the courts is anti-democratic.”

“If this law is challenged in the High Court,” MK Ofir Akunis (Likud) added, “the Knesset legal adviser said he would defend it.”
Shas and National Union MKs also spoke out in favor of the bill at the press conference.

After Monday’s plenum session began, Likud and Kadima power brokers reached an agreement that was meant to shorten the voting process, which was expected to continue past midnight. Only 20 Kadima MKs would speak, and they would limit their comments to five minutes each, according to the agreement.
However, the deal could not be enforced, and other opposition parties took full advantage of the time allotted to them, with some MKs speaking for 25 minutes, using colorful descriptions of the bill and those who proposed it.

“Right-wing MKs are bringing garbage to the Knesset under the guise of wanting to protect our national honor,” MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) said. “This is a nauseating bill.”
“I wonder if there is even democracy in this country,” he said.
At the end of the discussion, after 10 p.m., Meretz removed its reservations on the bill in order to avoid spending the night in the plenum chamber.

United Arab List-Ta’al MK Ahmed Tibi took a more personal approach, looking for a psychological reason that may have caused Elkin to propose the bill.
“Maybe when he was a kid he was beaten up and boycotted?” Tibi asked. (The word “boycotted” can also mean “outcast” in Hebrew.) 
Tibi also referred to a YouTube video of Pink Floyd lead singer Roger Waters reading a Jerusalem Post article on the “Boycott Bill” and calling for MKs to vote against it.
“You are shooting yourselves in the foot,” Tibi announced in the plenum.

MK Hanna Sweid (Hadash) said, “This is the government of Senator McCarthy, but with kippas.”

Kadima MK Nino Abesadze compared the coalition to the Soviet Union, in which people were sent to gulags for “not being Bolshevik enough.”
“Do you know what gulag means? It’s Stalin’s concentration camps!” she exclaimed. “You’re sending people to the gulag for their opinions.”

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said the bill should be sent back to committee for changes but he supported it in general terms.
Requesting changes to clause 4 of the bill, which puts much of the responsibility in the hands of the finance minister to decide whether a boycott has been called for, Steinitz said the ministry “does not want to be the lone high judge.”
The basic notion of the legislation, however, does not obstruct freedom of expression, the finance minister said.
“Democracy doesn’t mean that one group takes down another with economic power,” Steinitz said. “That is not an appropriate use of freedom of expression.”

Plesner also spoke out against boycotts, saying “I don’t think they’re the correct political tool.”
“However, I will fight for my political rival’s right to express his opinion with a boycott.
“There is no doubt that this bill will reach the High Court, and the Knesset legal adviser will have a difficult time defending it,” Plesner said.

MK Shlomo Molla, also of Kadima, mocked “Elkin-and Lieberman-style democracy,” saying that the coalition is attempting to “pass laws that will close the mouths of people with opinions they don’t like.
“Not allowing nonviolent protests will lead to violent protests,” he warned.

Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.

 

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The bad boycott bill

http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Editorials/Article.aspx?id=228885





Attempts to legitimize Jewish presence in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem through the stifling of criticism may just achieve the opposite.

MK Ze’ev Elkin was correct back in March to point out – after the Knesset plenum in a first reading ratified his government-backed “Boycott Bill” – the “absurdity” in Israelis supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Seemingly out of touch with mainstream Israeli society and oblivious to the many attempts consecutive Israeli governments have made over the past three decades to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinian people, these pro- BDS activists insist on using economic pressure to bully Israel into caving in to Palestinian demands. It’s as if there never was a wave of Palestinian terrorism targeting Israeli civilians in the wake of the Oslo Accords, a bloody second intifada complete with suicide bombings orchestrated by Yasser Arafat and carried out by Hamas and Islamic Jihad in response to prime minister Ehud Barak's far-reaching 2000 Camp David concessions, a barrage of Hamas-initiated mortar fire and Kassam missiles after the 2005 Gaza pullout, a 2006 Palestinian election that brought to power Hamas – a terrorist organization whose charter includes the Protocols of the Elders of Zion – and a recent reconciliation between that Islamist organization and the “moderate” Fatah.

Israeli proponents of BDS expect our government to end the “occupation” by simply giving in to all Palestinian demands – including, apparently, the “right of return” for millions of Palestinian “refugees” – and ceding all territory beyond the 1949 armistice lines after its made judenrein of over a half million Israeli citizens to form a 22nd Arab state that could easily be overrun in the near future by Hamas or some other anti-Semitic terrorist group bent on the destruction of the Jewish state. According to this crooked reasoning, Israel should also be muscled – via BDS – into giving back the Golan Height to Syria, a country led by a ruthless autocrat who has been butchering his own people and has fostered close ties with violent and powerful Shi’ite fundamentalists in Lebanon (Hezbollah) and in Iran.

Elkin’s bill, which at press time was expected to be passed in second and third (final) Knesset readings after a late-night filibuster, aims to do away with this “absurdity.”

If it becomes law, Elkin’s boycott bill will empower Israeli individuals, institutions or businesses targeted by boycotts initiated by fellow Israelis to seek compensation in court for damages resulting not only from boycott but even from calls to boycott. A pretzel baker located, say, in the Barkan industrial zone in Samaria, or a winery on the Golan Heights or an academic institute in Ariel would be able to sue Israelis who called to boycott them or took other steps to organize such a boycott.

Courts would be permitted to award compensation “as justified by the circumstances,” and not necessarily in line with proven damage. The finance minister would be empowered to prevent businesses that boycott Israel from taking part in state tenders.

BUT WHILE we empathize with Elkin and other lawmakers’ protective instinct vis-a-vis the Jewish state, we must, nevertheless, respectfully disagree with their proposed legislation.

Civil society has an unalienable right to organize peacefully and to use its buying power or freedom of association to further political objectives, whether it be grassroots protest against the high price of cottage cheese, haredi activism against Shabbat desecration, rabbis’ calls to “boycott” potential Arab house-buyers in Jewish neighborhoods or left-wing opposition to the government’s settlement policy in Judea and Samaria.

Passage of Elkin’s boycott bill would restrict freedom of expression in Israeli society by singling out for censure only those who sincerely believe – no matter how misguided this belief may be – that it is in Israel’s better interest to end the “occupation” no matter what the potential security risks and sacrifice demanded of those slated for evacuation. And Israeli proponents of BDS, unlike those living abroad, at least have the redeeming attribute of being willing to pay the price personally for the consequences of their actions, which would make Israel’s borders less defensible.

The specifics of the legislation are also problematic.

Unlike the “Nakba Law,” which prohibits the use of taxpayers’ funds to commemorate the establishment of the State of Israel as a tragedy, but does not ban privately funded commemorations, Elkin’s legislation prohibits private Israeli citizens and businesses from spending or not spending their money the way they see fit or associating or not associating with whomever they wish.

Legislation that infringes freedom of expression is not the way to battle the local BDS movement. Boycott initiatives should be allowed to compete for support in the free market of ideas. Judging from the minuscule backing BDS receives locally, we can rest assured that reason will continue to win out.

Attempts to legitimize Jewish presence in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem through the stifling of criticism may just achieve the opposite, by providing BDS proponents with a truly worthy cause to champion – their own right to freedom of expression.

 

 

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