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.