Israel’s boycott ban is down to siege mentality

Carlo Strenger writes:

The flood of anti-democratic laws that were proposed, and partially implemented, by the current Knesset, elected in February 2009, constitute one of the darkest chapters in Israeli history. The opening salvo was provided by foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party with its Nakba law, that forbids the public commemoration of the expulsion of approximately 750000 Palestinians during the 1948 war.

Since then, a growing number of attempts were made to curtail freedom of expression and to make life for human rights groups more difficult. The latest instance is the boycott law that was passed on Monday by the Knesset, even though its legal advisor believes it to be a problematic infringement on freedom of speech. This law makes any call for boycotting Israel economically, culturally or academically a civil offence that can be punished with a fine. Any public body making such a call will lose its legal status and will no longer be eligible for tax-deductible contributions.

The law, as Knesset member Nitzan Horowitz from the leftist Meretz party said, is outrageous, shameful and an embarrassment to Israel’s democracy.

Despite the outrage, I will try to analyse the question: what stands behind this frenzy of attempts to shut down criticism? The answer, I believe, is simpler than many assume: it is fear, stupidity and confusion.

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One thought on “Israel’s boycott ban is down to siege mentality

  1. delia ruhe

    In addition, Israel’s Canadian tools have come out with a report of “unprecedented levels of antisemitism in Canada,” and are demanding that the Harper government “take action.” If Canadian antisemitism is “unprecedented,” I’m assuming that Harper will be organizing a search for piles of emaciated Jewish corpses.

    I must be even more of a lefty than even I thought, for there is no doubt in my mind that Israel is a racist state whose legitimacy is in question — and that this flurry of racist laws, together with the demand that other states pass anti-democratic laws on Israel’s behalf, is intended to divert the world’s attention from Abu Masen’s plan to go to the UN in September.

    These are desperate, irrational measures. But then whoever said Israel is a rational actor?

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