Israeli Left Launches Public Campaign Against New Law Banning Boycotts

Thousands of people join calls to boycott settlement products in response to the new law, which penalizes people or organizations who call for a boycott on Israel or the settlements.

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Israeli leftist organizations launched Tuesday a series of protests against the boycott law passed in the Knesset the night before.

The Gush Shalom movement took its campaign to the legal level and filed a petition to the Supreme Court claiming the boycott law is unconstitutional and anti-democratic.

"The boycott law is another attempt by the parliamentary majority in Israel to silence any criticism against the government's policies in general and its policies in the occupied territories in particular, and prevent an open and productive political discourse, which is the backbone of a democratic regime," the petition said.

In the hours following the law's approval approximately 2,000 people joined the Facebook page opened by Peace Now movement calling for a boycott of products from the settlements. The Solidarity Sheikh Jarrah movement joined that call, and say that so far around 1,500 people have petitioned against the bill.

Protesters rally against the law in front of the Knesset, July 10, 2011Credit: Emil Salman

"The public protests against the destruction of democracy will not stop with polite petitions to the Supreme Court," Peace Now said in a statement, "The first to feel the struggle will be the factories in the territories, which will for the first time feel the economic impact of an ideological boycott."

MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima), who resides in the Ma'aleh Michmash settlement, said that his he and his family "are not like a cottage cheese box that you can boycott." He added that those who oppose the law are motivated by hate for segments of Israeli society.

According to the law, a person or an organization calling for the boycott of Israel, including the settlements, can be sued by the boycott's targets without having to prove that they sustained damage. The court will then decide how much compensation is to be paid. The second part of the law says a person or a company that declare a boycott of Israel or the settlements will not be able to bid in government tenders.

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