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Issues of the Day "Boycott" Law: Further Erosion of Israeli Democracy

I hadn't expected that the Knesset would approve a piece of legislation proposed by Likud parliamentarian Zeev Elkin.  The law, which passed in the legislature on July 11,2011 by a vote of 47 in favor and 38 opposed, permits lawsuits and other sanctions against those calling for a boycott of  Israel. 

          The law, however, is really not about boycotts of Israeli society. Rather, its objective  is to protect and bolster the economic and political interests of the settlements in the Occupied Territories by denying opponents of the settlement movement the means to tangibly oppose it. Further, it is part of a larger initiative that bodes poorly for the future of Israeli society.  

          Whether or not boycotts are good or bad is an appropriate subject for debate. However, the boycott law is just one of an ongoing series of  official and unofficial attempts by the Israeli Right to impose its ideology and  implement its program. Its proponents are intent on doing so even if it means straitjacketing Israeli democracy.

          The Israeli Right is involved in a power struggle between the Likud led by Prime Minister Netanyahu and the more radical parties: Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu and HaBayit HaYehudi. Threatened by the brazen muscle-flexing of the far-Right whose recent initiatives include laws aimed at requiring loyalty oaths and calling for investigations of  the funding sources of left-wing social and political groups, Likud parliamentarians are in a game of one-upmanship  with the ultra-Right. 

          In this context, the law is part of the Likud's struggle to consolidate its hegemony on the conservative-right end of the Israeli political spectrum. 

          There is a discernible threat to Israeli democracy, civil liberties and political expression being played out in Israel's public sphere and this law represents another gain for the anti-democratic forces. Anyone who is concerned with Israel's future should oppose these attempts to hijack the country's civil discourse, indeed its soul,  and oppose the rightist putsch aimed at taking control not only of the country's policies and institutions, but the minds of its citizens as well.  

© Yosef Gotlieb, . All rights reserved