On Tuesday, a Knesset committee is due to approve on second and third readings the bill combating boycotts against Israel - another hysterical proposal by the right wing and Kadima MK Dalia Itzik designed to protect our weak and tiny country, which is being attacked from within and without.
"This law," explain the architects of the proposal, "is designed to protect the State of Israel in general and its citizens in particular from academic, economic and other boycotts that are imposed on the country, its citizens and corporations, due to their connection to the State of Israel." The law is designed to protect "the area under Israeli control, including Judea and Samaria." According to the bill, "It is forbidden to initiate a boycott against the State of Israel, to encourage participation in it or to provide assistance or information in order to promote it."
There is no problem, therefore, with a boycott by ultra-Orthodox consumers against supermarkets that open on Shabbat, or against a merchant whose sons serve in the Israel Defense Forces, even if it leads to their economic collapse. There might also not be a problem in boycotting fur exporters, for example. The only offense is "a boycott against the State of Israel," and in effect against the settlements, whose products are the object of most boycotts in Israel and the world over.
That being the case, the bill - which is certainly not constitutional (we can make an endless list of freedoms that it undermines ) - opposes even international agreements that Israel has signed. First among them is the agreement to join the OECD and the agreement with the European Union. These require that products be marked, distinguishing the Israeli economy from that of the territories.
But even someone who believes that a consumer boycott is legitimate while an academic boycott is a despicable tool that harms Israeli education's soft underbelly - someone who doesn't move a single stone from the wall of the occupation - can't support legislation that involves a consumer boycott directed only at the settlements, or silences anyone who demonstrates or speaks against them.
This is what will happen if the bill passes - and its chances are considerable despite the protest of many organizations, headed by the Coalition of Women for Peace and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. A "talkbacker" on the Internet who complains, for example, about the economic burden caused by the settlements can expect a lawsuit from a settler who can claim that the comment promoted a boycott of his products. The writer will be fined at least NIS 30,000 and the plaintiff won't have to prove the link between what is written and the damage. Not to mention writers of articles and people who express opinions on radio and television.
Bizarre? Not compared to the next article: "If the interior minister sees someone who is not a citizen or a resident of Israel acting in contradiction to Article 2, or if the cabinet has decided by a majority of its members that such a person is imposing a boycott against the State of Israel, the interior minister is allowed to request the district court to deny that person the right to enter Israel for a period of at least 10 years." So what? Will Ken Loach beg to be allowed to attend the Haifa Film Festival and be denied entry?
In other times we could depend on the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee to reject such embarrassing texts out of hand. Not now. Questions of legality and constitutionality, freedom of expression and human rights are now dwarfed in light of the goal, whose distorted definition "protection of the State of Israel" justifies the means.
Behind this declared objective hides a more problematic one. The initiators of the glorious legislation of recent years - the Nakba law, the loyalty law, the community-admission-committee law, the denial of citizenship law ("the Bishara Law" ), the parliamentary investigative panel to examine organizations' funding sources - actually have no interest in questions of legality and constitutionality. All they want is to delegitimize protest and political opinions, and to scare us.
Although Israelis find it hard to see the connection among the laws, which ostensibly refer to different issues and communities, the violent rape of the law book caused by this legislation has destructive results. And these results - which are collapsing the foundations of Israeli democracy - will harm everyone in the end, without distinction.
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