Law of Boycott Prohibition

Note: The following article ignores said law’s implications on Palestinians. To read a compressive article on that, I recommend Band Annie’s Weblog.

Israelis calling for support of the Palestinian call for BDS are under attack from all sides. Whether it be the media, private people in the name of some seriously disturbing organizations [Hebrew], government members, or as of late: Law makers taking fascism in Israel up a notch.
The Weapon of Mass Destruction Called “Email”

I’m a signed and active member of the group called BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within. This group is a non-profit, non-governmental group of citizens of Israel (some Jews, some Palestinians). It’s what you might call a tactical, one-track group, that will probably break up (under this title) as soon as our goal is fulfilled.

What’s our goal? Well, contrary to what the common belief in Israel is, it’s not the isolation of Israel- that’s just the means. As we endorse the Palestinian call “as is”, the goals are clearly stated in the call:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

(For those fearful Israelis screaming that you don’t solve ethnic cleansing with another, I commend you for acknowledging your shameful history and this is that scary quote from UN resolution 194:

11. Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours [sic] should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible;

Instructs the Conciliation Commission to facilitate the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees and the payment of compensation, and to maintain close relations with the Director of the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees and, through him, with the appropriate organs and agencies of the United Nations;)

What do we do in order to achieve this goal? Here it is folks! That scary part that send shivers up your spine! That horrific act of… (Cue the Psycho soundtrack here)…

Email writing!!!

True terrorism at work… I know.
Blind Justice or Real Justice?

It seems the non-violent and (needless to mention, but this is what I’ve been reduced to) legitimate act of letter writing, is some scary shit for a few of our Knesset members, so in the name of Zionism and all that is holy they’ve conjured up the [limited by my translation] “Law of Boycott Prohibition”:

#2 It is prohibited to initiate a boycott against Israel, to encourage participation in it, or to supply assistance or information with the aim of promoting it.

#4 The court will rule compensation because of a civil injustice according to this law in the following manner:
A. Punishment compensation of up to 30,000 New Shekel [$7,763.975 to date] to the wronged subject to the proof of some kind of damage;
Additional damage compensation according to amount of damage and subject to the proof of some kind of damage.

The above is the first part of the law, which addresses citizens of Israel. It’s smart in its bureaucracy. In effect, according to this law, I can personally, or as part of a group, be sued by Shuki Weiss, music concert producer, or his company, Shuki Weiss Ltd. for encouraging music artists to participate in the cultural boycott of Israel and supplying them with information with the aim of promoting said boycott. I did all this with the weapon of mass destruction called “email.”

This law, however, maximizes my punishment under a law of torts, adding to it a compensation fee that would cost you most of your yearly minimum wage [46,202 Shekels] in Israel. Why the special treatment? How am I different from someone campaigning against companies or laws of the state that permit or encourage vivisection? If I financially damaged someone, they can always sue me. But say I financially damaged Nike, because I sent Michael Jordan a letter to stop promoting them, because they use sweat shops in Indonesia, and Jordan pulled out of their contract as a result. Legally, I’m guilty. However, this scenario begs the question: Is this how we (yes, the people) want our courts to run? Do we want blind justice or real justice?

I’d say the Law of Boycott Prohibition has a secondary purpose, whether intended by its makers, or just a lucky result of years of fascist mind frame. The additional “compensation” will be paid to the “wronged” and not to the state, so this is a rather clever way for the government to encourage private suits against BDS campaigners, and thus to mobilize the Israeli public to do the state’s dirty bidding, instead of the political pitfall of outward fascism. But this also suggests something else about the Israeli society and its government; The government trusts that the public may identify a “traitor” when it sees it, and there won’t be any need for it to point the finger, or make big noise about such people. Thus eliminating the need for extravagant town square hangings and keeping the considerable peace, Israel is so fond of.

Another secondary purpose comes to mind; While it’s still legal to advocate BDS, these political actions, under this new law, will be subject to economic penalty. What’s the goal? Deterrence? Or could it be that the Kneset aims to outrightly impoverish a group of people with a certain political opinion? What do you call that again?

Americans Beware

In the explanation section of this law proposal there’s this section about the US as precedent for this law:

In the USA there’s a similar law that protects its friends from boycott of a third party, when the premise is that a citizen or a resident of the state won’t call for a boycott of his country or its allies.

What is this law? You can find a lot of information about it at the Bureau of 
Industry and Security U.S. Department of Commerce website (“Where industry and security intersect”):

…the Antiboycott Laws under the Export Administration Act. Those laws discourage, and in some circumstances, prohibit U.S. companies from furthering or supporting the boycott of Israel sponsored by the Arab League, and certain Moslem countries, including complying with certain requests for information designed to verify compliance with the boycott. Compliance with such requests may be prohibited by the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and may be reportable to the Bureau.

Personally, if I was an American, I’d be doubly scared. Not only does the elected American government create unholy ties with other governments, which includes your taxes going into the arms trade, but if you have something to say about it, this is what awaits you:

The penalties imposed for each “knowing” violation can be a fine of up to $50,000 or five times the value of the exports involved, whichever is greater, and imprisonment of up to five years. During periods when the EAR are continued in effect by an Executive Order issued pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the criminal penalties for each “willful” violation can be a fine of up to $50,000 and imprisonment for up to ten years.

Administrative:

For each violation of the EAR any or all of the following may be imposed:

• General denial of export privileges;
• The imposition of fines of up to $11,000 per violation; and/or
• Exclusion from practice.

Boycott agreements under the TRA involve the denial of all or part of the foreign tax benefits discussed above.

When the EAA is in lapse, penalties for violation of the Antiboycott Regulations are governed by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). The IEEPA Enhancement Act provides for penalties of up to the greater of $250,000 per violation or twice the value of the transaction for administrative violations of Antiboycott Regulations, and up to $1 million and 20 years imprisonment per violation for criminal antiboycott violations.

Hope you work for the post office…

The Parts of the Greater Jewish Democracy

Ynet reported:

The bill was initiated by the Land of Israel lobby in the Knesset…

The Land of Israel lobby is the biggest lobby in the Knesset. On its website it sums up its illegal objectives as follows [limited by my translation]:

* Strengthening of the state of Israel’s hold on all parts of the country of Israel and in particular Judea and Samaria [West Bank]
* Prevention of any harm to the settlement and the security of Judea and Samaria.
* Promoting legislation that strengthens the settlement.
* Strengthening the Jewish people’s legal standing in the whole of the country of Israel.
* Strengthening the national-Jewish-Zionist awareness and Hasbara, inasmuch as in the population inside Israel as towards other states, regarding Israel’s right to the Judea and Samaria geographic regions.
* Allocating of resources to the strengthening of the settlement and the security along Judea and Samaria.
* Repairing the severe mistake of the disengagement and the prevention of its repetition.

The Ynet article also added:

[The bill] was endorsed by members of various factions…

Indeed this proposal brought together a variety of Zionists, conservatives, right wingers and men of faith (not exactly a surprising blend). It takes individual parts to make a whole. So who are these individual Zionists, who make up the Jewish democracy?

Settler, Ze’ev Elkin, head of The Land of Israel Lobby, who zigzagged from the Likud to Kadima and back to Likud, because after Tzipi “Israel is not going to show restraint anymore” Livni was elected as head, he felt “Kadima went left”.

Kadima’s Dalia Itzik, which is most soft spoken of the 25, has been a Kadima member since its inception and as such, she has a very high price over her head, which includes the Gaza offensive.

Settler, ultra right wing National Union member and other head of The Land of Israel Lobby, Aryeh Eldad, who

divide[s] the day into two parts. In the first part of the day, I try to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state. It is not a full-time job, so in the second part of the day, I try to prevent corruption.

Likud Youth [site still in process] representative and Likud member Ofir Akunis, who has a record of misunderstanding democracy, also misunderstands international law and seems to blindly follow daddy Netanyahu’s war-mongering lead into diplomatic oblivion:

…attempts by the U.S. to connect the Iranian issue with the question of building in Jerusalem was not acceptable, because building in Jerusalem did not threaten world peace, while Iran’s nuclear bomb did.

Kadima member and head of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, Tzachi Hanegbi, who, referring to Palestinian prisoners announcing a hunger strike, had said:

As far as I’m concerned, they [the “terrorists”, of course] can strike for a day, a month, until death.

United Tora member, Moshe Gafni, not only supports settlements and opposes a palestinian state, but also has some serious issues with gay marriage [all on the Wikipedia link]:

“We don’t have a Jewish state here. We have Sodom and Gomorrah here.”

Settler and Israel Beitenu member, David Rotem, chairman of the “Committee of Constitution [that we don’t have], Law and Trial”, who proposed the infamous “citizenship law”.

As typical of Shas members, David Azulai is less involved in occupation affairs. However, it seems he has a soft spot for settlements. [1] [2]

Ha’bait Ha’yehudi [The Jewish Home] party member, Zvulun Orlev, was the one to propose the bill providing for imprisonment of anyone who denied that Israel was a Jewish and democratic state.

Likud member Yariv Levin is also a big fan of loyalty and led the attack on MK Hanin Zoubi, who was on the Mavi Marmara:

Levin said that Zoubi “betrayed Israel” and must be prosecuted as a traitor… He said that Zoubi crossed all red lines, adding that “those who sail to Hamas, support terrorism”.

Likud member Haim Katz is mostly into workers unions and civil economics. So much is he into issues that don’t have anything to do with militarism, that I couldn’t find a single statement of his about the bloody flotilla raid, led by his governing party, whirh was a huge issue in Israel, for example. Katz is a great example of how one can’t avoid doing damage in the state of Israel; Being secretary of the National Workers Union of Israel Aircraft Industries, or just proposing a bill that at face value seems anti-militaristic:

…excelling athlete… would not have to return to Israel to do full army service…

But with a slightly deeper look, exposes Brand Israel (even though Katz doesn’t himself use this rhetoric):

…but would be able to serve the state by doing national service in Israeli consulates and embassies around the world.

Maybe there’s a problem at the Likud youth, because just like his ex-comrad Ofir Akunis, now Kadima member Yoel Hasson also has a deep misunderstanding of democracy:

Another member of parliament, Yoel Hasson, called her a terrorist and suggested she be searched for weapons when entering the building. “Hanin Zoabi has crossed every possible line,” he said. “I told her ‘you should be singing the praise of Israel for being a democracy that allows even someone like you to behave the way you are behaving.”

Self described “religious rightwinger”, Likud member Tzipi Hotovely is big on women’s rights, but not before her

…right to the land, and the importance of preserving the Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria, and maintaining the unity of Jerusalem, all of these stemming from recognition of our historical and religious national roots. [Read about Hotovely’s unabashed beliefs on her website.]

Lia Shemtov of Israel Beitenu is a very active law maker. Last year, for example:

Shemtov has put forward a bill that would compel all state public schools to have Zionism classes, at least three hours weekly. The bill, which was presented to the ministerial committee, is geared to chareidi and Arab state schools.

Israel Beitenu chairperson, Robert Elitov is another MK with a very low profile (no Wiki). Maybe he even has good intentions, dealing with aid for immigrants and the privacy of people suspected with a criminal offense, but just like his ostrich Likud counterpart, Haim Katz, one can’t ignore the racism advocated by his party.

Shas Member Avraham Michaeli showed he was an advocate of military rule when he wanted to change the Basic Law of The Judiciary to say that

the Supreme Court does not have the final say on “security matters directly relating to the preservation of human life.”

Other than being a devout land grabbing fascist, United Tora member Menachem Eliezer Moses would skin bunnies for his jewish traditions.

Beit El settlement establisher, founder of Gush Emonim, responsible for doubling the Jewish population beyond the Green Line, National Union member, And Arutz Sheva executive director, Ya’akov Katz had a life threatening experience which made him vow that

should he survive, he would devote his life to settlement and education.

But his racism doesn’t end with Palestinians, when he proposed to create a “special town” for “illegal aliens”.

Being Minister of Tourism during “Cast Lead”, ex Likud and now Kadima member Ruhama Avraham Balila is responsible for a lot of whitewashing:

Tourism Minister Ruchama Avraham-Balila explains that her office has worked to reduce the negative image of Israel that emerged from Operation Cast Lead, and her office is working in many countries to encourage tourism and to minimize the impact of the global economic crisis on the industry.

You always have to have an Arab on actions like this, so here is Christian Druze ex Likud and now Kadima member Majalli Wahabi. “Sharon’s adviser on the Arab world“/Sharon’s Arab face has this to say about the conflict in his career choice:

The large parties have to understand the importance of our community. I personally plan to represent my people faithfully, but also anyone who voted for my party, no matter what sector they come from. I believe in our involvement in Israeli society, not in separate parties.

While the apartheid whitewashing site, Israel 21c, who quoted him on that, seems to comprehend his role much more clearly:

Haaretz did the math for us recently, revealing that a total of five Druze candidates were likely to garner seats… And the best part is, the candidates hardly seem interested in only representing their small ethnicity…

Carmel Shama also has that Likud Youth disability to understand the meaning of democracy. He was one of the MKs to submit a request to the Central Elections Committee to block Zoabi from being able to run in any future Knesset election, telling Ynet:

MK Zoabi got another reward for treason today.

Chairman of the World Likud, Danny Danon was the one to petition to the Israeli High Court of Justice to rescind the citizenship of former MK Azmi Bishara and is now at the forefront of the “Zouabi bill”, stipulating that

MKs who actively support armed struggle against Israel will be ousted from the Knesset.

You can read the rest of the Danon’s unabashed platform at his website, while listening to the ticking sand clock [?] counting down the governments decision to resume illegal building in the West Bank.
Settler Alex Miller is responsible for the Israel Beitenu Youth and behind of most if not all fascist laws initiated by Israel Beitenu. Here’s just a bit of one of those magical quotes:

Many in the international media have called Avigdor Lieberman a fascist. Are you a fascist and is Yisrael Beiteynu a fascist party?

“I’m not a media analyst but it is clear from our election campaign that our country must ensure that citizens do not conduct massive protests opposing the existence of the state. The Israeli public believes in loyalty. Duties must be equivalent to rights.”

Settler Yitzhak Vaknin of the Shas party is into social reform [Hebrew] and is a supporter of a biometric pool in Israel [Hebrew] and a bill to unite Jerusalem with all its surrounding settlements [Hebrew], along with fellow bill proposers Elkin, Rotem, Hotovely and Michaeli.

And last but not least, the Rabbai Uri Maklev of United Torah, another member of the “Greater Jerusalem” lobby along with the aforementioned Ze’ev Elkin, Zvulun Orlev and Jerusalem Mayor, Nir Barkat. Maklev himself was Deputy Mayor for 15 years, so he has a long-standing say in East Jerusalem.

So what do we have here? Ashkenazis, Sephardics, Jews, Christains, Arabs, women, men, young, old, religious, secular, immigrants, indigenous… Indeed the face of democracy.

The Media’s Hand in Subverting Democracy

Due to what the media calls “the recent wave of cancelations” of music performers in Israel, BDS has been top headlines. Even we, at BOYCOTT!, have seen a dramatic rise in interview requests; From non-existent to twice a day. Seeing as the threat of our terror (and the disappointment from the “cowardly” Devendra Banhart) is so great, and the amount of media attention on exponential rise, since the Gaza offensive , the Goldstone report and the Mavi Marmara raid, you’d expect this law to be splattered all over the papers. But pseudo-democratic governments have their way, and troubling bills, such as the Law of Boycott Prohibition, get passed under the table.

I found 2 articles on Ynet. They were the same article in both Hebrew and English. The titles:

* MKs offer response to PA boycott [English]
* Law Proposal: Palestinian Money will be Handed Over to Boycott Sufferers [Hebrew-limited by my translation]

In both articles it takes three paragraphs until its mentioned that Israeli citizens are restricted by this law. Why does the media choose to untypical highlight Palestinian victims of this law, especially when the effect of legislation in Israel on Palestinians is usually obscured? Is this a political maneuver, to show the citizens of Israel that the elected government is in fact reacting to the “delegitimization” of our dear state of Israel? Also, neither of the articles highlight that in order for this law to take effect, pertaining to Israel’s citizens, another citizen must sue “the guilty party”. Why isn’t there a clear call to action? The title could have easily been: “Fucked by BDS? Now You Can Sue!” Could it be that our representatives in Knesset know that they’re subverting democracy?

I'm a teacher, writer, and activist based in Bangalore. I am dedicated to various issues including #BDS and Palestine, living Zero Waste, and reversing the effects of climate change.

Posted in Boycott, Divestment, Israeli Organizing, Sanctions, Why Boycott?!
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