July 12, 2011

Israel's anti-boycott law

Israel has passed an anti-boycott law. It's yet another example of Israel jettisoning its democratic facade but apparently it's to protect the economy of the settlements.  Here's Avirama Golan in Ha'aretz:
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.
Magnes Zionist has an interesting take on the new law here. He thinks it's unworkable. I don't know if it is or it isn't. I do find it remarkable though that so many people in the west who claim to support Israel because it's "the only democracy in the middle east" don't say a word when the trappings of democracy are being steadily undermined by the Israeli government.

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