Nakba Day students hold up signs.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
A new bill seeks to cancel some of the most controversial laws passed by the previous Knesset, which MK Eitan Cabel (Labor) said limit democratic freedoms.
“The bill to rehabilitate freedom of expression and democracy,” would annul three laws passed by the 18th Knesset.
The first, the Nakba Law proposed by then-Yisrael Beytenu MK Alex Miller, allows the finance minister to cut public funding from institutions that mark the “Nakba Day,” on which Israeli Arabs and Palestinians mourn the “tragedy” of Israel’s establishment.
According to Cabel, this law “authorizes the finance minister to remove public funding from institutions that express political opinions that are different from those the leading parties decided are desirable.”
Another law Cabel seeks to cancel is the Boycott Law, submitted by now-Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin, which prohibits calling for a boycott on specific geographic areas in Israel and allows for public funding to NGOs that do so to be cut.
“By law, a person calling to boycott products manufactured in settlements can be sued,” Cabel explained.
The third law is one allowing “communal settlements,” meaning towns in which a local committee decides whether or not to accept new residents, to reject people based on “incompatibility with the social-cultural fabric of the town.”
The law was proposed by MKs David Rotem (Yisrael Beytenu), Yisrael Hasson (Kadima) and ex-Kadima MK Shai Hermesh.
The law says communal settlements’ committees may not reject potential residents based on “political party views or ideology,” but, according to Cabel, the “vague criteria [of the Rotem-Hasson-Hermesh Law] gives towns a license to discriminate against families based on their nationality and ideologies.
“This law is meant to circumvent the High Court decision from 2000... that excluding Arab citizens from state land is prohibited discrimination,” Cabel added.
In the bill’s explanatory portion, Cabel wrote that the three laws are a “significant deviation from Israel’s democratic tradition, which damage political freedom.”
Cabel added that the laws are meant to cause fear and prevent people from expressing their opinions and thoughts.
“Israel is a democracy. Government in a democracy should not silence people,” he wrote. “Israel should not persecute people because of their political opinions. In democracies, discussion wins over silence and freedom wins over coercion, because only in this way can truth win over lies.”