The Knesset’s new “anti-boycott law” in a nutshell:
According to the law, a person or an organization calling for the boycott of Israel, including the settlements, can be sued by the boycott’s targets without having to prove that they sustained damage. The court will then decide how much compensation is to be paid. The second part of the law says a person or a company that declare a boycott of Israel or the settlements will not be able to bid in government tenders.
The upshot? For comparison purposes, consider this: if this law had been passed by the US Congress, the city of Montgomery could have legally sued MLK for leading a boycott against its bus system.
My two cents? Israel, a country that repeatedly claims the mantle of “the only democracy in the Middle East” is fast dismantling its own democracy. Knesset member Nitzan Horowitz put it about as well as it could be put, I think:
We are dealing with a legislation that is an embarrassment to Israeli democracy and makes people around the world wonder if there is actually a democracy here.
Here’s the thing: Israel and its “right or wrong” advocates have been working overtime fighting what it considers to be “delegitimization” of the Jewish state. But for all the effort exerted, in the end it is Israel that delegitimizes itself by passing increasingly anti-democratic legislation such as this. It’s not the first time we’ve seen the Knesset pass such a bill, and although it pains me to say so, I believe we’re going to see similarly odious laws coming down the pike in the future.
Among the many reactions to this law from throughout Israeli society, I found it extremely notable that Peace Now – an organization that has resolutely refused to support boycotts – has now called for a boycott of settlement products in reaction to the legislation.
Hear, hear. If you believe that the Occupation is immoral and unjust, then boycotting products produced in the Occupied Territories is a moral and just thing to do.
Even if you’re queasy about a full-blown boycott of all Israeli products, please consider boycotting products produced in West Bank settlements. Click here for a full list of settlement products as well as companies that engage in West Bank construction and services. If you’d like to sign on to a public settlement boycott effort, I encourage you to join Code Pink’s “Stolen Beauty” campaign of Ahava beauty products, which come from the Occupied West Bank settlement of Mitzpe Shalem.
(For a detailed guide to the implications of the new law, check out Noam Sheizaf’s excellent piece in +972. )