Just like in America

US, European countries already have anti-boycott laws, so why can’t Israel have one?

Hagai Segal
Published: 07.13.11, 18:09 www.ynetnews.com

The morning after the Boycott Law was passed, we woke up to a slew of heartfelt leftist protests: “Debate is being stifled,” “McCarthyism,” “thought police,” “the end of democracy.”

For a moment, the malicious impression created here was that the Knesset passed a law that would sentence any citizen endorsing the land-for-peace formula to a life term with hard labor.

That’s nonsense, of course. Nobody is silencing leftists, and there is no rightist McCarthyism in Israel; what we have here is merely a camp that never knows how to lose graciously.

Our democracy is stronger than ever and more appreciated than ever. The great world out there barely cares about the new, soft law passed here the other day. After all, quite a few Western states legislated similar laws not too long ago, at the end of the 20th Century, in order to fight the Arab boycott against Israel. France, for example, as well as Belgium, Holland, Germany and Luxemburg.

Several years ago, a similar law was passed even in the United States, the crown jewel of global democracy. It is indeed unimaginable that only Israel of all countries will be prevented from passing a law against anti-Israel boycotts.

Settlements aren’t the focus

As opposed to all the chatter we’re hearing, the focus of the new law is not the settlements, but rather, the state as a whole. The legislation’s official title is “Law for preventing harm to the State of Israel via boycotts.” Its second clause, for example, refers to those who “knowingly issue a public call for boycotting the State of Israel.” What’s anti-democratic about this phrasing?

Isn’t it time for Israel to adopt minimal defensive measures against the dark forces that scheme to defeat it via economic means, after losing hope of doing so through other means?

If a member of the leftist camp doesn’t wish to use Jewish olive oil that was produced in the territories, nobody will force him to do so. When a store offers him occupied mineral water from the Golan Heights, he will be able to say that he prefers water from the kosher desalination plant in Ashkelon and stay alive.

Knesset Member Ze’ev Elkin’s thought police will not be visiting such people at night. It won’t be visiting anyone. The new law doesn’t turn boycott fans into criminals. It merely grants the State, academic institutions and private businesses an opportunity to collect compensation from professional boycott organizers.

It may not be an ideal law, but imposing a boycott on ideological grounds is not a very impressive act either. Instead of raising a hue and cry, we should wonder how we didn’t think about it much sooner.

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  • Formed in June 2010, Group 18 is a new Israel advocacy organisation. 18 stands for the numerical value of “Chai” = LIFE. The impetus behind its inception was a feeling amongst concerned Jews that insufficient action was being taken in dealing with what we see as a broad and growing campaign to deligitimise the State of Israel and threaten it’s very right to exist. We, as Group 18, believe that instead of being reactive in dealing with these complex challenges, we must become pro-active through generating greater communal awareness of the issues.