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Israeli High Court to hear petition against 'anti-boycott law'

An expanded panel of nine justices of the Israeli High Court of Justice will hear a petition against the “anti-boycott law” Sunday morning, which several NGOs are arguing silences debate on one of the most important and divisive issues in Israeli society.

Passed by the Knesset in 2011, the law, formally known as the “Law for Prevention of Damage to State of Israel through Boycott,” allows those who feel they have been harmed by a boycott – whether against Israel or an Israeli institution or territory (i.e. the settlements in the West Bank) – to sue the person or organization who publicly called for it.

If a person calls for a boycott of academic institutions that participate in the occupation or companies operating in the occupied territories, she/he could be sued in civil court and ordered to pay compensation.

Click here for +972’s full coverage of the anti-boycott law

The definition is very broad — even a simple call not to visit a certain place falls under it. The plaintiff doesn’t even have to prove damages. A link to a translation of the full text can be found here.

According to Adalah’s (one of the NGOs petitioning the law) press release:

In the petition filed in 2012, Adalah Attorneys Hassan Jabareen and Sawsan Zaher, and ACRI Legal Advisor Dan Yakir argued that the law must be cancelled as it imposes a ‘price tag’ on legitimate political expression, and thus, undermines public debate on the most controversial issues in Israeli society. The law violates the constitutional rights of freedom of expression, dignity and equality. The petitioners argued that the law, due to the severe sanctions imposed, has created a ‘chilling effect’ that deters all those wishing to express a political stance by calling for a boycott.

Both the law itself and its impact on constitutional rights have been sharply criticized by civil society organizations in Israel, the European Union, the United States government, and international human rights organizations. The Knesset’s legal adviser also expressed his strong stance against the law, stating that it constitutes ‘injury to the heart of free political expression in Israel.’

Read more:
Everything you (never) wanted to know about Israel’s anti-boycott law
Why the Left shouldn’t take boycott law to the High Court

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    COMMENTS

    1. The Trespasser

      >The law violates the constitutional rights of freedom of expression, dignity and equality

      Bullshit.
      These Adalah fellas should have known that lying is not the best way to win friends and influence people.

      Reply to Comment
      • ForwardThinkingJew

        Misuse of the word “anti-Semitism” like you’re doing only delegitimizes the state of Israel and genuine Jews who can tell the difference between legitimate debate and acts of hatred towards our religion.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ginger Eis

          You must be new here, I guess. That ‘thing’ otherwise known as “Rhemat” you are responding to is a known anti-Semite and Holocaust-denier. What ‘it’ posted is ‘its’ own peculiar way of mocking Jews with made-up nonsense. Serious fellows do not pay attention to that sick thing.

          Reply to Comment
        • Perry Weiner

          “Hatred against a religion” is a backward notion. All religion is bad, period. Antisemitism is a form of racism, not hatred against, say, lighting the candles of Friday night, etc. As a Jew, secular and atheistic, I say Israel–as it stands–has already “de-legitimatized”itself, alas, by its theocratic structures, its exclusion of Israeli Arabs from full citizenship and above all, by the brutal treatment of Palestinians concomitant upon the occupation. The Holocaust happened because a whole people turned a blind eye to horrendous evil. The Israelis should not emulate such blindness in the service of what it regards as its “legitimacy,” the very thing that makes it less than legitimate.

          Reply to Comment
      • bob wisby

        I agree and can’t understand why a freedom of speech based democracy such as Israel should be expected to tolerate calls for change from amongst its public. To defend freedom, we should not hesitate in stifling these voices.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Here we go. A win through Basic Law will be limited, for there will be a push to alter that law.

      I guess the best hope is that a few Court wins will motivate new political alliances. Two pivotal cases now: the Open Prison/African Refugees and the Boycott Law. Maybe Aharon Barak’s legal revolution isn’t quite done.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ginger Eis

        Only a disgusting human being would desire harming the business and companies of ordinary folks, shut down their means of livelihood and damage their ability to provide for their children – for an political end. That’s a form of economic terrorism. Take a look in the mirror and ask yourself, what have I become? Why am I – round the clock, even in my dreams – so obsessed with Jews and Israel? Why does the idea of harming Jewish businesses give me so much pleasure?

        Reply to Comment
        • I guess my saying “Maybe Aharon Barak’s legal revolution isn’t quite done” identifies my as an anti-Semite who wants to destroy Jewish business. You are aware there are Israeli Jews bringing the petition before the Court, not me?

          My own position is not pro BDS as such. It is that boycott is a variant of the strike, which indeed could harm business when effective. Those striking would also call on others to boycott the business, which exercises both free speech and free association. The tool of boycott does not imply it will be effective. Under your own nationalist assumptions, it shouldn’t be. Then, so be it.

          But to say that Israeli citizens cannot advocate a boycott, which, by the way, under the present law happens if one says “I am not going to buy this and I don’t think you should either,” is an abridgment of nonviolent Israeli politics. Violence is absolute direct harm to another, or interdiction of lawful behavior in others; not a call to refuse association through the power to purchase. Under your logic, if I encourage people not to purchase a product because it is not well made I am harming a business. Well, yes, that’s called the free market. I can expand that call, saying labor is under compensated, even though necessity forces them to work. So, if I encourage people not to shop at the now international WalMart because the company actively discourages unionization, I may indeed indirectly harm that business and those employed there. But that is what strikes and boycotts do. It is a social decision by others to heed the call or not.

          I am not pro boycott; I am against muzzling Israeli civil society for a political end under contention. You are telling your own people to shut up. I say, let them speak.

          You say:

          “Only a disgusting human being would desire harming the business and companies of ordinary folks, shut down their means of livelihood and damage their ability to provide for their children – for an political end. That’s a form of economic terrorism. Take a look in the mirror and ask yourself, what have I become? Why am I – round the clock, even in my dreams – so obsessed with Jews and Israel? Why does the idea of harming Jewish businesses give me so much pleasure?”

          Dearest Ginger, consider the redirected resources of the West Bank; consider the loss of land, demolition of livelihood, loss of pasture, destroyed olive trees; consider the Yesh Din reports presented on this site. Have not “ordinary folks” seen “their means of livelihood [shut down which] damage[s] their ability to provide for their children – for an political end.” Is this not “economic terrorism?” I submit what has and is happening in the West Bank is more directly harmful to people than calls–calls–for boycott made by Israelis–Israelis–in their own State of Israel. Which you do not own.

          Since I am a “disgusting human being” you should have no need to comment to me anymore, no? For would you not be in danger of giving me “so much pleasure?”

          My reasons for being here I have made rather public on this site. The “lioness of Zion” can look them up.

          Reply to Comment
    3. Ginger Eis

      Israel is the only democracy where a few nasty groups of individuals – having failed to achieve their goals through the ballot box – set up NGOs and receive millions of dollars from foreign (enemy) governments to subvert the Will of the People of Israel as expressed through a democratic process, blackmail the State Of Israel into surrendering to their political design or, failing to achieve that, bring about her economic demise and eventual collapse as a State. These groups are what is proverbially known as “the 5th Colum”, the enemy from within. Their activities are treasonable, albeit criminal. In countries like Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc. these traitors would just vanish without a trace. In countries such as the USA, France these criminals will face serious charges and/or register as foreign agents. But in good old Israel these traitors do as they please and have the Chutzpah to complain about a simple law that ONLY requires them to comply with THEIR OWN statutes. Indeed, good old Israel is an exceptional Nation!

      Reply to Comment
        • Ginger Eis

          Indeed, Israel is not a democracy, yet she has independent courts that are empowered to review- and if necessary strike down Sovereign Acts Of The Parliament (such as the boycott law) and void government decisions, etc. Yeah, Israel is not a democracy, but she allows disgusting elements like you to form political organizations, vote for whomever you want or be voted for by whoever wants to vote for you. Gee, Israel is not a democracy but she guarantees despicable things like you the same human rights- and judicial protection that the United States, the UK, Norway, The Netherlands, Germany, Canada (that gave you political asylum!), etc. guarantee their own citizens, et cetera. I have said this to you before and I will say it again: ‘obsession with- and hatred of Jews is a mental illness that will eventually destroy your spirit’ – as is already happening.

          Reply to Comment
    4. JG

      Ukrain is the only democracy where a few nasty groups of individuals – having failed to achieve their goals through the ballot box – set up NGOs and receive millions of dollars from foreign (enemy) governments to subvert the Will of the People…..

      Reply to Comment