The Boycott Law Is Unconstitutional and Undemocratic

At issue is not about the settlements; the real issue is completely eradicating open political debate.

It was apparently the swan song of attorney Eyal Yinon, a responsible jurist who had never - until yesterday afternoon - been slapped with that derogatory label "leftist." Yinon tried to explain to Knesset members that the contradiction between the Boycott Law and the principle of freedom of expression created an unconstitutional and perhaps even undemocratic anomaly, but in vain.

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Anti-Boycott Law protest - Emil Salman - July 2011
Emil Salman

Henceforth, Yinon will be tarred and feathered, as befits such an anti-patriot. The "leftists" will keep barking and the caravan will keeping moving on.

It's interesting that it took a nonpolitical jurist to understand what MKs like Benny Begin and Dan Meridor refuse to understand: that the Boycott Law is only ostensibly about boycotts of goods produced in the settlements, just as the Admissions Committee Law is only ostensibly about community life in small towns and the Nakba Law is only ostensibly about commemorating the Palestinians' "catastrophe," and so on and so forth ad infinitum.

All of these new laws, all the new conditions stating that "anyone who doesn't recognize the Jewish and democratic state" will not receive state funds or will lose his citizenship or will not be allowed to sleep in the afternoons, have one purpose only: to completely eradicate open political debate and to comprehensively delegitimize everyone who doesn't think like MKs Zeev Elkin, David Rotem, Michael Ben-Ari and their friends.

The question that most preoccupied Meridor yesterday related to how Israel would be perceived by the international Quartet. He was genuinely worried that the law to punish those who boycott the settlements would not paint Israel's parliament in a terribly flattering light.

But Israel's image is a truly trivial issue compared to the process of change being wrought in Israeli society by the cabal of Yisrael Beiteinu, extremist rabbis and Kahanists. This process is crudely erasing entire entries from the democratic dictionary, and in their place - via a series of focused laws with intentionally vague wording - it is putting blatantly totalitarian values.

The Boycott Law is just one step in this process. Anyone who attempts to relate substantively of any of these separatist laws - all of which are meant to "defend" Israel from a long list of imaginary monstrous enemies - or who chooses to ignore their overall anti-democratic context is guilty of naivete at best, and perhaps even of dangerously feigning innocence.

Anyone who refuses to understand that a single, not particularly well-hidden thread links all these recent laws to the demonstrations opposite the Supreme Court, and the racist letters by the rabbis and their wives, and those who sang "utzu eitza v'tufar" ("take counsel together, and it shall come to naught" ) as they danced around Rabbi Dov Lior, ought to examine their foreheads in the mirror. Just to see whether there has suddenly sprouted the bud, too small to feel, of a rhinoceros horn.