Laws for Liquidation

The boycott bill is an imposition of the views of the majority on the minority, essentially shutting the latter up.

talia sasson
Talia Sasson
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talia sasson
Talia Sasson

The Knesset was due to vote today on the second and third readings of what has been dubbed the "boycott law," under which anyone calling on the public not to purchase goods made in the settlements, for example, will have committed a civil violation, as would someone who calls on artists not to perform there.

Even those who oppose boycotts as a tool for social change cannot stand idly by as the Knesset passes such a harmful law. This legislation strikes at one of the fundamentals of a democratic regime - freedom of expression, which is an ultra-legal constitutional right, the foundation stone of every democratic administration. It hits at the very place where the people need the broadest possible freedom of expression - the realm of political expression.

Here, especially, if people aren't given space to express conflicting views, the extremism, hostility, alienation and hatred between groups will increase, and are liable to lead to violence.

The restrictions on freedom of expression that the law proposes will fall on those who hold a specific political viewpoint, who believe that the settlements are illegal or illegitimate or do not serve the good of the state. The bill is an imposition of the views of the majority on the minority, essentially by shutting the latter up. Whoever declares in public that his conscience forbids him to sing in Ariel will be punished.

This is legislation that directly contravenes the role of a parliament in a democratic state - namely, to protect minority rights from majority oppression. It's also a reversal of norms: While the consensus throughout the world is that the settlements are illegal, anyone in Israel who dares oppose them will suffer consequences.

Even worse is that this law equates Israel with the West Bank. Even Israel's critics acknowledge its existence as a sovereign state within the Green Line. Israel's settlement policy is criticized, and there is wide international consensus that the settlements are illegal and illegitimate. But there is a difference between criticizing Israel's settlement policies and recognizing its right to exist within the borders of the Green Line.

Now, through a Knesset law, Israel is drawing an analogy between its right to exist as a state and its policy of settling territories in which it has no sovereignty.

Ever since the 18th Knesset was formed, MKs have been competing among themselves to see who can more heavily bruise Israel's democratic regime. The flood of anti-democratic laws, among them the boycott bill, only some of whose dreadful clauses are described above, are the product of a guiding hand. There are no coincidences here.

These policies come directly from the school of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who periodically get some help from Kadima volunteers. All of them are trying to change Israel's democratic system, which still allows room for broad freedom of expression and defense of minority rights, even if this requires intervention by the High Court of Justice, which sees itself as authorized to void a Knesset law that contradicts basic democratic values.

Those sponsoring this legislation believe, apparently justifiably, that even if the High Court does strike down this law, or any part of it, such intervention will not be possible against all the bad laws that are coming down on us, and that at least some of them will remain on the books. Those who support this legislative process also believe that every time the High Court intervenes and strikes down a law, its standing among the public drops.

Thus, these officials are confidently leading the way toward making Israel a "thin" democracy, where there are formal democratic processes - such as elections every so often - while the substance of democracy dissipates like morning fog.

The harm these people are doing to the State of Israel will cause mortal damage to its legitimacy, because the nations of the world, including the United States, will not support an undemocratic state.

But why should these people bother themselves about such minor details? Their main objective is to perpetuate their control.

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