Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties

Israel Moves to Punish Citizens who ‘Support or Initiate’ Boycotts Against Jewish State

Whenever the US government explains its support of Israel in the face of overwhelming global opposition to the Jewish state’s criminal occupation and subjugation of the Palestinian people, the fact that the country is the only democracy in an very autocratic corner of the globe is inevitably offered up as the primary reason. Never mind that the US staunchly backs Saudi Arabia, one of the most repressive and least democratic nations on earth, or that the US stands or recently stood behind brutal dictators not only in the Middle East, but around the globe. Just for self-serving purposes, let us just this once take Washington at its word and assume it means what it says about supporting Israel because it’s a democratic state where citizens enjoy more or less the same freedom as we do here at home.

The problem with this is that it simply is not true. For example, a new bill making its way through the Knesset would ban boycotts against the state by Israeli citizens. That’s right, under a proposed piece of legislation, the state will be given the power to fine any Israeli who supports or initiates a boycott the equivalent of $8,200, even if no damage results from the boycott. What’s more, the bill would allow for even larger fines in the event that economic damage results from the boycott.

The world knows crimes against humanity when it seems them… (Photo: Mohamed Ouda)

This bill smacks of desperate and defensive lashing out against a growing global movement of economic, academic and cultural boycotts of Israel. These are based not on anti-Semitism, as the Israeli right and their sycophantic supporters in the US would disingenuously lead us to believe, but rather on the repeated and severe human rights violations committed by the Jewish state as it struggles to maintain its inhumane and patently illegal occupation and subjugation of the Palestinian people. Israel knows it is increasingly isolated, a veritable pariah state loved only by the United States and some inconsequential pipsqueak island nations bought off with Zionist gold.

Even Israel’s own Foreign and Justice ministries are opposed to this proposed bill, a Likud-hatched plan that is nothing more than a discriminatory muzzle on free speech. The ministries also rightly claim the bill would play into the hands of Israel’s enemies and spark additional anti-Israel measures around the world, and that’s the last thing the already isolated country needs.

The bill has caused heated parliamentary debate, with Arab and progressive members of Knesset storming out in disgust. As well they should. But perhaps those of us who yearn for a more just Israel that respects global opinion and the rights of human beings to live free from occupation, humiliation and the ever-encroaching settlements of rabidly racist Zionists hell-bent on the expulsion of every last Arab from their “God-given” Jewish homeland ought to view this bill as a hopeful sign. Why hopeful? Because by even considering such a bill that would effectively silence free speech, Israel demonstrates that it is cracking; for such measures are usually enacted by desperate tyrants hopelessly struggling against the mighty currents of justice. And that, at least, should give the millions of people suffering from the slow-motion Holocaust of Israeli ethnic cleansing something to smile about.

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One Comment

  1. KeirJuly 12, 2011 at 10:00 amReply

    When a country needs to use torture, shoot the rock-throwing children whose grandparents you stole the land and property from and make dissent illegal, it’s time to ask if it is a sustainable country, let alone a moral, decent one.

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