Likud bill seeks to criminalize support for BDS

The bill distinguishes between "legitimate criticism of Israel" and "bullying," according to the bill's sponsors.

Anti-BDS poster (photo credit: JWG LTD)
Anti-BDS poster
(photo credit: JWG LTD)
A new bill from Likud lawmakers could make supporting a boycott against Israel result in a prison sentence of at least seven years.
The initiative, submitted by Likud MK Anat Berko with the support of coalition chairman David Bitan and others, would make it a crime to “act to harm the State of Israel’s interests, relations between Israel and a country, organization or institution,” resulting in a potential seven- year sentence.
If such actions are taken while also committing another crime it can carry a sentence that’s as long as 10 years, and if they are taken while committing a more serious offense, it could carry a life sentence.
“The bill is meant to apply to those who take an active part in the movement to boycott Israel or its products,” Berko wrote in the bill’s explanatory portion. “One can criticize Israel, and we are not, God forbid, violating freedom of expression, but anyone who helps a boycott that harms Israel’s economy or in another way, like an academic boycott, will have to be brought to justice for it.”
According to Berko, “That is the difference between legitimate criticism and harm that is bullying, like a boycott.”
Last week, the Knesset voted in a preliminary reading to approve a bill by Likud MK Yoav Kisch that would allow people harmed by calls to boycott Israel or the West Bank to sue for up to NIS 500,000 without proof of damages.