What’s the big deal?
Sir, – I don’t understand why American Jews criticize a bill that was passed by a democratically elected Knesset (“Across political spectrum, American Jews are criticizing new anti-boycott bill,” July 14).
Why is it the business of so called leaders of organizations, Left and Right, to criticize the law? It does not prevent anyone from conducting a protest – it merely allows those hurt by a boycott to sue an individual or group for monetary damages.
The law does not damage the legitimate right to freedom of speech.CHAIM GINSBERG
Ma’aleh Adumim Updates needed
Sir, – The so-called boycott law has drawn fire from left-wing NGOs
because, they say, it tramples free expression, which is a hallmark of
I am not a lawyer and do not know if this is so, but a law certainly may go against civil liberties.
We are in a new era.
The Geneva Convention prohibits the killing of innocent bystanders in
wars, but how does this fit in with terrorist warfare, where human
shields are used regularly to protect aggressors? Circumstances demand a
review and an updating of these laws.
Uri Avnery is quoted as saying in “Gush Shalom: ‘Boycott Law’ heralds
‘death sentence for freedom of expression” (July 13) that this is “a
death sentence for the right of freedom of expression” and can be
compared with laws in Nazi Germany in the 1930s. That’s an interesting
comparison. Lest we forget, Germans democratically chose Hitler as their
chancellor. Hitler was the product of democratic laws! Lest we forget,
the Gazans democratically elected the terrorist regime of Hamas in 2005.
Democracy is great. Civil liberties are wonderful. But as one of my
friends says, “Sometimes you have to break your principles and do what
you think is right!” AVIGDOR BONCHEK
Sir, – When will our left wingers learn that everything has a limit –
even freedom – and that this limit is reached when freedom becomes
license? When members of the Left call for a boycott of goods made in
Samaria or any part of the disputed territories, they themselves are
This kind of blind thinking on the part of the Left will lead only to
the loss of our country and the loss of the strength this country gives
us to prevent another Holocaust.EDMUND JONAH
Sir, – Many of your readers have probably watched “Prime Minister’s
Question Time” in the British House of Commons, or David Cameron, the
British prime minister, giving a wide ranging press conference with no
holds barred. They may even have seen the grilling of witnesses by the
House of Commons’s Select Committee in the Rupert Murdoch/News of the
World hacking scandal.
Such events are at the heart of democratic accountability and
transparency – concepts that are glaringly absent from the Israeli
political scene, where government ministers and MKs treat the voting
public with barely concealed arrogance and contempt.
One example: Prime Minister Netanyahu refuses to explain why he did not
vote on the controversial anti-boycott bill. Does he – the prime
minister – have no view one way or the other on such a fundamental
issue, or is he just plain scared of offending factions of his
coalition? The public surely has a right to know.RAYMOND CANNON
Issues with editorial
Sir, – With all due respect to “The bad boycott bill” (Editorial, July
12), you have glossed over the main points. You fail to discuss that
there are numerous NGOs and organizations that work tirelessly to
eradicate the State of Israel.
The BDS movement does not seek to boycott materials produced by
companies in the West Bank; it seeks to boycott all products produced in
Israel, renounce ties with all Israeli academics, divest from all
Israeli companies and have the country sanctioned into elimination.
Such anti-Semitic ideas (which I have personally seen while fighting BDS
in northern California for the past two years) have no place in the
free market of ideas.
There are many reasons why the law should be rewritten, but its spirit should be supported.GEORGE ROOKS
Sir, – Although the anti-boycott bill was passed the same day your
editorial appeared, the issues raised in the bill are undoubtedly
relevant and will likely be contested in the courts.
I therefore carefully reviewed your editorial several times. Having
pointed out so succinctly the absurdity in some Israelis and others
supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, not to
mention the potential economic and political damage to Israel, you
nevertheless say the following: “Legislation that infringes freedom of
expression is not the way to battle the local BDS movement.”
It needs be pointed out that the law, far from stifling freedom of
expression, will simply allow citizens to bring civil suits against
persons and organizations that call for boycotts against Israel. As the
bill’s sponsor put it, “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.”
I must say that the first half of your editorial, which explained the
reasons behind the bill, was far more convincing than the second half.SHIMON SIMPSON
Age 67 is sensible
Sir, – Regarding “MKs call ‘emergency conference’ to block increase in
women’s retirement age to 67” (July 13), I am a firm believer in equal
rights for all members of our society, including women, Arabs and any
other group. However equality means equal opportunities, not equal
Pension rights are a prickly subject, primarily because when retirement
ages were first established, life expectancy was much lower than it is
today. Originally, retirement age was five to 10 years less than the
average expected life span.
Today, people live much longer, and this places an unfair burden on
younger workers who are expected to support an increasing proportion of
the population that may well live for 30 years beyond retirement. This
is an untenable situation, and Israel is tackling it in a sensible way.
For some strange reason, the retirement age for women in Israel was set
at an earlier age than for men despite the fact that, on average, women
live three or four years longer than men. Logically, women should retire
at an older age than men! STEPHEN S. COHEN
Sir, – The editor should be careful in his use of the term
“Palestinian,” as in “...the UN General Assembly partition resolution,
which endorsed the establishment of a Jewish state (and a Palestinian
one)” (“Athens and Jerusalem, Editorial, July 11).
The editorial was correct in its statement about the resolution calling
for a Jewish state. It errs when attributing to the resolution anything
about a “Palestinian” state. The partition plan recommended an “Arab”
Nowhere did the term “Palestinian” refer to the Arabs of Palestine or an
Arab state. The term was reserved for those holding citizenship in
western Palestine (Cisjordan), be they Arab or Jew. In 1947, “Palestine”
and “Palestinian” meant only the British mandate or anything associated
Judging by the resolution’s wording, one might correctly assume that
there existed Jews and Arabs in 1947 Palestine, but not an Arab
nationality called “Palestinian.”BERNARD SMITH