The Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid in Toronto, Canada and the Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Refugee Rights issued statements condemning the anti-boycott law passed by the Israeli Knesset on July 11, 2011. Click here to sign on to the USACBI statement on the law.
On Monday, 11 July 2011, the Israeli Knesset passed new legislation outlawing support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement; a non-partisan grassroots initiative that seeks to pressure Israel to comply with international law and recognize fundamental Palestinian rights. The repressive legislation also bars companies that refuse to to deal with Israel’s illegal colonies built on occupied Palestinian land from receiving government contracts.
The ‘Law for Prevention of Damage to the State of Israel through Boycott – 2011,’ which was approved by a majority of 47 to 38 Members of Knesset, prohibits the public promotion of boycott by Israeli citizens and organisations, and, in some cases, agreement to participate in a boycott. It forbids not only a boycott of Israeli institutions but also of the illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).
The law defines public boycott as a new type of ‘civil wrong’ or tort. It will enable settlers or other parties targeted by boycotts to sue anyone who calls for boycott, and the court may award compensation including punitive damages, even if no actual damage is caused to the boycotted parties.
Further, the law will revoke tax exemptions and other legal rights and benefits from Israeli individuals and groups, as well as academic, cultural and scientific institutions which receive any state support, if they engage in boycott.
This bill follows upon the ‘Nakba law’, which defunded any institution that acknowledged the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948. Such repressive legislation particularly targets Palestinians inside Israel.
Israel has also recently suppressed other non-violent initiatives; pressuring foreign governments to obstruct the Freedom Flotilla II and the “Flytilla” which brought to light that Palestinians cannot even receive visitors.
Efforts to criminalize free speech and shut down freedom of expression on Palestine also extend into Canada. Pro-Israeli lobbying organizations are increasingly resorting to similar tactics. Over the past year Toronto City Council attempted, unsuccesfully, to ban the words “Israeli Apartheid”. And just last week, a pseudo-parliamentary group of Members of Parliament calling themselves the “Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism” (CPCCA) issued a report recommending that the federal government adopt a definition of anti-Semitism that would criminalize criticism of the State of Israel.
Hind Awwad, coordinator with the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest Palestinian civil society coalition comprising all major political parties, trade unions, NGOs and mass organisations, said:
“Israel is once again taking draconian measures to criminalize civil resistance to its system of apartheid, colonialism and occupation over the Palestinian people. But so long as Israel continues its illegal siege of the Gaza Strip, brutal occupation, denial of Palestinian refugee rights and system of institutionalized discrimination against Palestinians, repressive acts such as these will only offer further evidence of the undemocratic and oppressive nature of Israeli political life and motivate even more people of conscience to join our global BDS movement for freedom, justice and equality.”
“This new legislation, which violates international law, is testament to the success of the rapidly growing global BDS movement and a realisation within political elites inside Israel that the state is becoming a world pariah in the way that South Africa once was.”
CAIA joins other Palestine solidarity and social justice movements around the world in condemning this law.
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BADIL Condemns new Israeli Law prohibiting boycott and limiting the freedom of association and speech
July 15, 2011, Bethlehem – On July 10, 2011, the Israeli Knesset passed a new law prohibiting the participation and public support for boycott against academic, cultural, or business institutions in Israel or its illegal colonial settlements by imposing heavy financial sanctions on Israeli persons or organizations who support or engage in said boycott activities.
The draconian law, “Law for Prevention of Damage to the State of Israel through Boycott-2011,” severely limits Israeli civil society”s freedom of association and speech by muzzling their protest to Israel”s apartheid and colonial policies using non-violent tactics that have been used by cataclysmic movements historically, including the U.S.-based Civil Rights Movement and the Global boycott movement against South Africa.
The law empowers colonial settlers and other institutions or persons targeted by the boycott campaign to file a suit for civil damages. Noura Erakat, BADIL”s US-based Legal Advocacy consultant comments, “Rather than increasing its resolve to dismantle the illegal settlements per international law and the 2004 International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion, the Israeli government is emboldening its settlers to be above the law.”
The new law is also part of Israel”s recent deluge of discriminatory legislation. In late March 2011, the Knesset passed a law that criminalized the commemoration of the historic and ongoing dispossession of Palestinians known in Arabic as the Nakba. The law that has come to be known as the Nakba Bill, stipulates that the government shall de-fund any organization, institution, or municipality that marks the day of Israel”s establishment as a day of mourning or loss. Rania Madi, BADIL”s Geneva-based consultant explains, “Ten years since the International Conference against racism and racial discrimination held in Durban, South Africa, Israel”s violations of the International Convention to Eradicate all Forms of Racial Discrimination have become more egregious and systematic.”
The boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement is civil society”s attempt to hold Israel to account where governments have failed. Since its launch in 2005 by a broad swath of Palestinian civil society, BDS”s successes have been both symbolically and materially tremendous and have associated a high cost for those actors and institutions who are complicit in Israeli colonial and Apartheid practices.1 It is precisely the BDS movement”s success and tangible impact in challenging Israeli impunity that has made it a target for Israeli repression.
As a member of the Boycott, National Committee, BADIL condemns the new law and stands in solidarity with its Israeli partners who remain steadfast in the struggle for justice and equality.