Knesset session 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Minutes after the “Boycott Bill” passed, left-wing organizations expressed
outrage at the new law, with Gush Shalom petitioning the High Court on Tuesday
afternoon for it to be overturned.
The Boycott Law makes calling for a
boycott of Israeli products a “civil wrong” and forbids the government from
funding organizations that do so.
Leftist groups unite to stop Knesset boycott bill
Knesset c'tee approves bill outlawing boycotts on Israel
Gush Shalom activist and former Knesset
member Uri Avnery told The Jerusalem Post
Tuesday evening that the Boycott Law
is “a death sentence for the right to freedom of expression” and compared it
with laws introduced in Germany in the 1930s.
“This law crosses the
boundary between a democratic and a non- democratic society,” Avnery
In its petition, Gush Shalom describes boycotts as a legitimate
tool for democratic discourse, referencing the Haredi boycott of non-kosher
restaurants, Israel’s boycott on tourism to Turkey and the recent public boycott
of cottage cheese.
The petition calls on the High Court to overturn the
law, which they said will “silence any criticism of government policy in general
and government policy in the occupied territories in particular.”
prevents “the open, productive political dialogue that constitutes the basis for
the existence of democracy,” the petition said.
Avnery added that the petition said the Boycott Law will damage Israeli companies seeking to expand their
business to overseas markets and prohibit companies from guaranteeing to
overseas consumers that their goods are not produced in the West
“We are hopeful that the High Court will rule against the law, and
save what is left of Israeli democracy,” Avnery said.
A coalition of
Israeli left-wing NGOs also announced that they would challenge the law in the
“The new law seriously harms freedom of expression and
freedom of association,” according to a statement released by Physicians for
Human Rights – Israel, Adalah, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel
and the Coalition of Women for Peace.
“Moreover, it gives protection to
the illegal West Bank settlements in Israeli law, by penalizing their
opponents,” the statement read.
Hadas Ziv of Physicians for Human Rights
said the law “signals a de jure annexation of the settlements in the West Bank,”
in that it will “oblige individuals, companies and organizations to support the
illegal settlements by doing business with them.”
A Peace Now spokesman
said Monday was a “historical day in which the Knesset stopped representing the
people and became the national thought police.
“It seems that the extreme
right prefers to finish the argument over settlements through anti-democratic
legislation,” Peace Now said.
Libby Lenkinski of the Association for
Civil Rights in Israel said Tuesday that the law sets a “dangerous precedent for
limiting freedom of expression, which is not befitting of a democracy” and also
vowed to petition the High Court.
On the right, NGO Monitor expressed
concern that “this new law is not an appropriate framework, and will only
polarize important discussions regarding the boycott, divestment and sanctions
movement against Israel, rather than shed light or encourage informed
“The answer to this challenge,” NGO Monitor President Gerald
Steinberg said, “is not to curtail NGOs’ freedom of expression. Israel’s vibrant
democracy does not merely survive criticism; it thrives and is improved by
NGO Monitor added that the anti-boycott bill is “a response to the
absence of basic policy changes among the European governments that are
responsible for these processes” by funding left-wing organizations.
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein announced his decision to defend the
controversial new law even though he says it has "legal difficulties".
The High Court ordered the state Tuesday evening to respond within 60
days to the petition filed by Gush Shalom calling on the court to
overturn the new law.
Several other Israeli left-wing NGOs, including the Association for
Civil Rights in Israel, Physicians for Human Rights Israel, Adalah,
the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and the Coalition of
Women for Peace also announced that they would challenge the boycott law
in the High Court.
Avnery slammed the attorney general's decision to defend the Boycott Law.
"Weinstein admits the law is problematic legally but behaves in a
cowardly manner rather than bravely leading a legal process. In his
announcement that he will defend the law in the High Court he is abusing
his office as one who is supposed to lead the country according to
democratic values. He should refuse to defend the law, which the High
Court is clearly not going to pass," Avnery said.