Monday, July 18, 2011

Israel's Boycott Law "Constitutional

Crossposted from Haaretz

This week the Knesset passed a welcome law: the Boycott Law. This law makes it possible to bring to court anyone who calls for an economic, academic or cultural boycott of the State of Israel, including Judea and Samaria, and sue them for damages.
If imposing a boycott is a means of expression, the Boycott Law does indeed restrict it, but according to The Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom, the law in which this right is enshrined, these basic freedoms are not to be affected except by means of a law with a worthy purpose and in a proportionate way.
Knesset - Michal Fattal - 18072011 Last week’s Knesset vote on the Boycott Law. The law is allowable, worthy and constitutional.
Photo by: Michal Fattal
"By means of a law," includes the Boycott Law. Israeli democracy, by means of its elected legislators, has passed a decision by a large majority that forbids treating the heroic inhabitants of Judea and Samaria as though they were cottage cheese. As usual, when a rightist-nationalist law is passed, the left wakes up, moans and waves the flag of democracy.
The Labor Party, for example, is convening an emergency discussion of the topic: "The threat to democracy on the part of the extreme right and other elements."
However, this law did not just barely pass by a single vote and it is not a matter of a rightist minority. This time is was a majority of the people's representatives. This law is allowable, worthy and constitutional.
And its purpose is worthy - there is none worthier. The end has come to the era when we were downtrodden, when they incited against us, when they stole our bread because of our political beliefs or where we lived.
The part of the nation that is gladly prepared to accept that we are a human shield between us and the Arabs, the part which benefits from the taxes we pay, the part which accepts the blood of our wonderful sons that is spilled in the defense of its pubs and cafes - this selfsame public is not allowed, morally, to boycott our fruit.
This law limits freedom of expression in a proportionate way. Every individual, of course, is entitled to buy whatever he wants. We will not deploy supermarket inspectors to examine whether somebody bought Arabs' olive oil and not settlers' olive oil. But no group is going to rob us, incite against us or deny us culture. Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has explained how difficult it will be for him to defend this law before the High Court of Justice. Therefore, permit me to give you some advice: Imagine that this law, which ostensibly violates a Basic Law, is some other law that violates a Basic Law. The Disengagement Law, for example. Learn from your predecessor, Menachem Mazuz, how to defend democratic laws.
It's very easy when it comes from the left. In 2005, the expulsion of 10,000 citizens from their homes did not look like a disproportionate violation of human rights. In the state's response to petitions against the disengagement it was argued, inter alia, that the issue of the evacuation "is at the heart of the government of Israel's and the Knesset's diplomatic judgment, and therefore the honorable court should not dare to address it."
Further on, it was made clear that the worthy purpose was to "extricate the sides from this stasis and to lead to a better security, diplomatic and demographic reality."
So in fact the court does have a say in policy, and it does not intervene if the move is worthy in its eyes. The champions of freedom of expression who are screaming with all their might that the Boycott Law violates freedom of speech have decided to punish two Knesset members from Kadima who dared not to vote against the law ... by denying them their right to speak in the Knesset on agenda items or legislation for three to six months.
And another thing: Paragraph 500 of the Punishment Law says that anyone who conspires to harm the ability of somebody to earn a living is sentenced to two years in prison. Thus, the Boycott Law is lenient and stipulates the payment of damages only, and not imprisonment as in the previous law. Would those champions want us to return to the days of yore and make the punishment more severe?

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