The Boycott Bill / A Righteous Facade

Supporters of the bill to ban boycotts of Israel fails to achieve a resounding victory.

Supporters of the bill to ban boycotts of Israel - or, more accurately, of the settlements - did not win a resounding victory yesterday. The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, chaired by MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu ), will pass just about anything, however delusional or embarrassing. But opposition to the bill came from unexpected quarters this time around.

Labor MK Eitan Cabel's objections were predictable. But MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima ), who supported the bill in principle, was outraged by its vague, careless wording - and by the fact that instead of combating commercial boycotts of Israeli companies, it focuses on gagging Israeli citizens.

MK David Rotem
Olivier Fitussi

Moreover, the cabinet refused to approve three articles that would impose sanctions on states, quasi-states and foreign citizens; Justice Ministry representatives said the bill was poorly worded; and Foreign Ministry representatives warned that it would open a problematic new front with the rest of the world.

But Rotem was undeterred, as was the bill's sponsor, MK Zeev Elkin. The latter - who left Kadima for Likud, because he deemed Kadima "too leftist" - said such a law was necessary to "put an end once and for all to the indefatigable subversion of those who hate Israel."

That, in a nutshell, is the rationale for the bill - whose sole purpose is to insult, isolate, threaten and punish the "Israel haters" and anyone who might think about cooperating with them. But since even the current government presumably won't enable the passage of legislation that would be viewed as a declaration of war on foreign countries, companies and distinguished individuals, the only people likely to suffer the idiotic consequences of the bill are Israeli citizens.

The proposed law is legally and constitutionally unsound, and the claim that it is based on a similar law in the United States is rubbish: The U.S. law in question was meant to protect American companies from being hurt by the Arab boycott of Israel (and not, as the bill's sponsors claim, "to defend a friendly country" ). But it's silly to conduct a legal argument with the sponsors; they couldn't care less about the legal issues.

What is necessary, however, is to make it clear to every MK who may be thinking of hitting the beach when the vote takes place that, even though the bill is delusional, they must not let it pass. For behind the righteous facade of defending Israel against academic and commercial boycotts (which the bill is in any case incapable of preventing ) hides yet another contemptible machination aimed at gagging, intimidating and hastening the process of turning Israeli citizens into weak, frightened subjects of the Land of the Settlers.