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Law for Damaging the State of Israel
July 16, 2011 8:50 AM   Subscribe

Last Monday, the Israeli Knesset (legislature) passed the Law for Prevention of Damage to State of Israel through Boycott (Q&A), which, among other things, makes it a civil offense for residents of Israel to advocate economic boycotts against Israel or any geographic region under its administration, including the Occupied Territories. This means that while individual Israelis may themselves refuse to buy products made in the settlements, they run the risk of being sued if they publicly call upon others to do likewise.

The law is generally assumed to be meant against Israeli human rights and peace groups (Gush Shalom appealed to the supreme court, Peace Now chose defiance), and many claim it is a violation of freedom of expression. It appears no Western democracies have similar laws (see here for a comparison with US anti-boycott laws). As ever, some people are using the F word.
posted by iati (59 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
I am scared when peaceful protest techiques are removed.
posted by fuq at 9:03 AM on July 16, 2011 [11 favorites]


From the "comparison with US anti-boycott laws" link:

What U.S. law bars is participation in unsanctioned boycotts and embargoes imposed by other countries that conflict with U.S. policies -- including but not limited to the (effectively moribund) Arab League boycott of Israel.

If I don't buy any Israeli-made products today - and I had no specific plans to do so - does this count as illegal participation in the Arab League boycott of Israel?

And if the answer is "No, because you're not publicly identifying your failure to purchase as participation in that boycott", is not my free speech as effectively criminalized as under the Knesset law?
posted by Trurl at 9:08 AM on July 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Surely this?
posted by DU at 9:10 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


From the last link:

Q. What's next in line?

A list of new bills, beginning next week, each designed to choke debate, gag protest, punish criticism, and/or cement the rule of the right. First up: The return of a bill to create McCarthyesque committees to investigate organizations the panels deem leftist. The bill was originally withdrawn for lack of votes in Knesset, but, buoyed by the success of the Boycott Law, the McCarthy Bill's sponsors now believe they can win passage.


That's scary. I'm not sure how much credence to give that guy though.
posted by codacorolla at 9:12 AM on July 16, 2011


And what if the Israeli product is a bad product? Is it also illigal to boycott a product because it is defective or dangerous?
posted by fuq at 9:13 AM on July 16, 2011


I wonder if you can take out an ad saying "I am personally boycotting X because I believe Y"?

If every member of a group distributed such personal statements on the street ("Why I am boycotting X") without actually calling for others to do the same, could you charge them?
posted by pracowity at 9:14 AM on July 16, 2011


I tend to dislike boycotts generally. What does not get said here, though, is that a Prof Pappe, a tenured Marxist university teacher was very pro-Palestinian, and then kept announcing, writing, and supporting a boycott world-wide against Israeli academics--that is boycotting people in her own dept and university at any and all university conferences anywhere in the world. Though her colleagues put up with his anti-Israeli writing, his calls for boycotting them, finally got them to the point of active dislike. He resigned and has moved to the Netherlands, where he continues to publish books that are anti Israel, but which, according to many scholars, are botched and filled with distortions of history and factually incorrect.

There are many folks in Israel now hoping to see this new law overturned in the higher courts.
posted by Postroad at 9:15 AM on July 16, 2011


ADL President Abraham Foxman said the bill was a disservice to Israeli democracy

Next up, flying pigs
posted by crayz at 9:18 AM on July 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


First link is to a .doc. Might be worth a note in FPP.
posted by JHarris at 9:18 AM on July 16, 2011


I beg to differ about other western democracies. I remember a piece, possibly in here, about a US law that makes it illegal to label that products are made in (that state that shall not be named), so they cannot be boycotted in the US. I used to see produce labeled (from that state that shall not be named), when I was a kid in Europe, and so forth.

So every time something happens, like the fenugreek seeds that carried a whole new version of e coli, that resulted in an attack against both the organic food business, and Germans, then I wonder where did that attack come from? A company in Egypt is blamed, but not named specifically. Then I automatically chalk it up to an outfit (from that state that shall not be named), because if it were a US company, or from any OTHER state on Earth, everyone on Earth would know who made the error.

It is illegal in the US to even ask if a product or parts of a product are made in (that state that shall not be named). I bet it is illegal and unwise to even infer any wrongdoing on the part of (that state which shall not be named.)
posted by Oyéah at 9:20 AM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


As long as Israelis don't have sarcasm, irony or black humour in their culture, this will be a completely effective measure.
posted by hawthorne at 9:20 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I believe Glenn Beck also spoke at the Knesset this week. Coincidence?
posted by wittgenstein at 9:23 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


will that make israel's boycott of gaza illegal?
posted by facetious at 9:26 AM on July 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


I believe Glenn Beck also spoke at the Knesset this week. Coincidence?

*googles it*

Wow, you aren't joking.

We're starting to export our own special brand of krazy, made in the USA.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:28 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


And what if the Israeli product is a bad product? Is it also illigal to boycott a product because it is defective or dangerous?

The US anti-boycott laws are interesting, to say the least. As long as you don't make explicit your reasons for purchasing product X from countries other than Israel, you're fine. But if you tell a seller, "I'll buy X from you as long as it's not from Israel" you're boycotting. You can even say "I'll buy X from Greece, Turkey or Spain only" since you haven't said you wouldn't buy it from Israel. The seller may realize what you're doing but unless you specifically mention Israel, they can't refuse to fill the order. It gets even more interesting when you factor in shipping companies and which flag they fly (not much of an issue for individuals, of course).

I work for a company that does a lot of business in Dubai. We purchased a company based in Israel that makes a really popular product in our industry. Let me just say there was a lot of attention suddenly paid to anti-boycotting since this product was so popular (and has no real competition).
posted by tommasz at 9:36 AM on July 16, 2011


Well, if Glen Beck spoke at the legislature from (the state that shall not be named) then all the monkeys are truly getting ready to fly back up the a** of the universe. It means the (political body, from the state that shall not be named), has sunk to the level of a Junior High School assembly. This indicates some bizarro-world action, or a moebius loop in time. God they must be a self-hating bunch, I wouldn't go back to Junior High for anything. Kafka must be having a good laugh at all of this, as he watches the time-delayed Stockholm syndrome strike the people (of that state that shall not be named), and they embrace the values that caused the Holocaust. While at the same time Germans make that whole syndrome illegal, and munch on organic produce, while banning the nuclear industry.

Apparently American Krazy is so viscous our borders can't hold it all in...
posted by Oyéah at 9:36 AM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


(the state that shall not be named)

That's a really annoying tic you've got there.
posted by ryanrs at 9:50 AM on July 16, 2011 [13 favorites]


Aww, shit, now I'm in trouble; I've been boycotting Israel since 1984. I'm sure they've felt the pain too. Oh wait... I'm not Israeli. Dodged a bulldozer there!
posted by Decani at 10:01 AM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


At least Jews in the rest of the world are still free to stand up and call the Israelis out for being jackasses when they are doing so most egregiously; I wish we would do so more often.


I believe Glenn Beck also spoke at the Knesset this week.

what the actual fuck
posted by elizardbits at 10:08 AM on July 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


American Krazy is so viscous

I too am concerned about the non-newtonian thixotropy of american krazy.
posted by elizardbits at 10:10 AM on July 16, 2011 [13 favorites]


Thanks for the reminder to cash in those Israel bonds I got for my bar mitzvah.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:12 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


But how would this work if the boycott was organized through the internet? A non-Israeli hosted website could organize a boycott, even to the extent of being run by Israelis. Unless foreign companies can be forced to hand over details of the owners' identities, then it can't be enforced. Given that the law doesn't exist elsewhere, other countries would not have to participate in its enforcement. The law doesn't seem to apply for the simple possession or consumption of information regarding a boycott, only its publication or promotion.

Israelis are still going to be able to organize and take part in boycotts, it's just that the activity will no longer be part of public political life. The law will only help to polarize and alienate, creating two political communities where there really needs to be one.
posted by Jehan at 10:19 AM on July 16, 2011


(the state that shall not be named)

What's wrong with you? What's the point of this?
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 10:25 AM on July 16, 2011 [11 favorites]


One would think that with all the money we send to Israel, the years we have been good and close allies with them, the power of the pro-Israel lobby in the U.S., that they would learn the basic and simple rules of a democratic nation, the sort of thing we have here, that allows for full and open speech, eschews censorship of all kinds, be it in school, film, tv, or print'; believes in full equal rights for all genders and disregards sexual or racial differences....when oh when will others emulate us?
posted by Postroad at 10:33 AM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


In addition to Gush Shalom and Peace Now, add www.whoprofits.org, which lists which companies make money off the occupation. Since the occupation has been declared illegal by the international court, whoprofits has had some luck getting at least the European companies to back out. The relatively small amount of money they make from the occupied territories isn't worth the bad PR. Unfortunately, so far as I know, the people running the site are Israeli. They will likely be affected by this law.

As long as Israelis don't have sarcasm, irony or black humour in their culture, this will be a completely effective measure.

This could very negatively impact the peace movement in Israel by giving the government grounds to persecute and prosecute the people doing the work. The peace activists there already have their lives threatened on a regular basis. Having the government legally sanction discrimination against them sets a terrible precedent.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:43 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


There was an Israeli-boycott group in the Berkeley area a couple of years ago that was tabling near shopping areas and handing out flyers listing Israeli products to boycott. Turned out I already didn't use almost everything on the list.

Of course, my thirty-year boycott of any religion or religious idea coming out of the entire middle eastern area continues.
posted by telstar at 10:44 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Postroad, why does Ilan Pappé have to be mentioned as some sort of balance, along with being redbaited? The academies and academics of Israel, that modern democracy, were not safe from the academic freedom of professors? Also, if you're going to bring up Pappé, he's at the University of Exeter now and you forgot to mention the death threats, which goes a bit beyond academic dislike.

On the Glenn Beck thing, the funniest part besides his whole quivering Ruth-quoting persona is that Glenn Beck that the following exchange occurred:
[Knesset Member Arye] Eldad also objected to Beck's statement in the Knesset committee meeting that Arabs and Israelis are all "people who want to live their lives and raise their kids."

"You say we're all people – I have a problem with this," Eldad said.

Also, Postroad, I saw your follow-up. The US is also, as MLK Jr. said back in 1967 and unfortunately it continues to hold true, "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." That doesn't make what Israel is doing any better, and it is a willing weapon of that US violence.
posted by Gnatcho at 10:47 AM on July 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


"What's the point of this?" -PostIronyIsNotAMyth

Eponhysterical.
posted by Chipmazing at 11:01 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


The obvious reaction to this is to organize an international boycott of Israeli goods, but ... does Israel actually export anything?

You know, besides bulldozers?
posted by Sys Rq at 11:25 AM on July 16, 2011


Fear and hate.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:31 AM on July 16, 2011


Sys Rq: I was under the impression they're a fairly major player in software and IT related R&D, as well as having a large export focused agricultural sector.
posted by Grimgrin at 11:49 AM on July 16, 2011


One of its most unfortunate exports is militant zionism.
posted by elizardbits at 11:51 AM on July 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


The obvious reaction to this is to organize an international boycott of Israeli goods, but ... does Israel actually export anything?

You know, besides bulldozers?


This is an embarrassingly dumb thing to say, for multiple reasons, one of which is that people have tried to boycott Caterpillar because they supply bulldozers that Israel uses in the occupation.
posted by andoatnp at 11:53 AM on July 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


[D]oes Israel actually export anything?
The only tahini that my local grocery stocks is imported from Israel. So, yes.
posted by agentofselection at 12:01 PM on July 16, 2011


Thanks for the reminder to cash in those Israel bonds I got for my bar mitzvah.

I have a bond that I wanted to get rid of. You can't sell them and you can't redeem them until they mature. The Israeli Bonds office in my city told me I can physically go to Israel and take it up with the bank there, but even then they might refuse.
posted by stuart_s at 12:04 PM on July 16, 2011


DONT BE FOOLED BY ALL THE HATERADE BECAUSE ISRAEL IS A DEMOCRACY, DO YOU HEAR ME!
*stomps feet, goes to pout in the corner*
posted by liza at 12:04 PM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


does Israel actually export anything?

Don't forget the Epilady!
posted by hangashore at 12:06 PM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


does Israel actually export anything?

Israel is a big player in the semiconductor industry. The Intel Core microprocessors were designed in Israel (at least the early ones, not sure about current products).
posted by ryanrs at 12:07 PM on July 16, 2011


The obvious reaction to this is to organize an international boycott of Israeli goods, but ... does Israel actually export anything?

Lots of consumer goods - something I'm only aware of because, er, I've been following the rather brilliant rebranding of the SodaStream, a product which has caused a bit of a kerfuffle in the EU and Scandinavia about goods labelled as Israeli-made when they're actually made by Israel-based companies with factories in illegally occupied territories (which means they can't benefit from preferential import duty agreements between the EU and Israel).

As small ruminant says above, whoprofits.org have a lot of interesting, seemingly well-researched info on this.
posted by jack_mo at 12:08 PM on July 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


(Just to be clear, I'm pretty sure the major semiconductor companies are operating out of Israel proper, not the settlements.)
posted by ryanrs at 12:12 PM on July 16, 2011


does Israel actually export anything?

Batteries
posted by Confess, Fletch at 12:15 PM on July 16, 2011


we get a lot of israeli tomatoes, strawberries and mangoes here in NYC as well as hummus and other kosher foods that many "civilians" like me buy. there's also the AHAVA and MASADA body products (i love those Dead Sea Salts but, no thanks for now).

there's more info about the consumer boycott at the BDS Movement site.
posted by liza at 12:17 PM on July 16, 2011


oh, and just so y'all understand, BDS Movement isnt just asking people to boycott stuff produced in the occupied territories. their campaign is for boycott, divestment and sanctions against ISRAEL just as we did in the 1980s-90s against South Africa.

and yes, Desdmond Tutu approves. the whole premise of the campaign is that Israel's occupation thru settlements, it's siege of Gaza and it's discriminatory laws against Palestinians is apartheid.

and i have to agree. i was appalled to find out that Palestinians who've fled territories now occupied by Israel thru violent means have no right of return. boggles the mind they get away with that.
posted by liza at 12:27 PM on July 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


> One of its most unfortunate exports is militant zionism.

Militant Zionism is actually very often an import. For instance, Ze'ev Elkin, who sponsored this law, is foreign-born.
posted by iati at 12:28 PM on July 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


It shouldn't be surprising that a country so preoccupied with the holocaust, terrorism, and anti-semitism and very much used to its pariah status and isolation cannot accept internal dissent or any divergence from its own mythology, but it is.
posted by mizrachi at 1:42 PM on July 16, 2011


The more I read about it, the more bizarre this law seems. I sincerely hope everyone boycotts the importation of Israeli legal theories...
posted by Salvor Hardin at 2:00 PM on July 16, 2011


One of its most unfortunate exports is militant zionism.

I thought most of that was exported from Brooklyn *to* Israel. Aren't a lot, if not most, of the militant Jewish settlers tied to US-based Orthodox movements?
posted by mediareport at 3:38 PM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]




"What does not get said here, though, is that a Prof Pappe, a tenured Marxist university teacher was very pro-Palestinian. . . he continues to publish books that are anti Israel, but which, according to many scholars, are botched and filled with distortions of history and factually incorrect."

Completely irrelevant and uncalled for.

So basically, you're saying that a professor with politics similar to those of Israel's founders, who was hounded out of his country for expressing his free speech and for writing about elements of history that were critical of how Israel ethnically cleansed Palestinians... you're saying that his mistreatment is somehow justification for widespread mistreatment of all Israelis who think, for instance, that people should avoid the Occupied Territories for any of the rather obvious reasons why one might want to do so?

Israelis can't even say "Don't go to East Jerusalem... it's an angry, dangerous place recently." But thankfully, we have a professor to blame it all on?!

Sorry, but no. We have a extremist right-wing government to blame it on. One that reflects the will and wishes of the majority of the Israeli people, sadly.

Next year... anywhere but Jerusalem!
posted by markkraft at 6:42 PM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aren't a lot, if not most, of the militant Jewish settlers tied to US-based Orthodox movements?

Actually, yes, this is true, for the most part. I think I'm a little too close to this to be objective, sry.

I will stick to dorky physics jokes
posted by elizardbits at 7:08 PM on July 16, 2011


"Prof Pappe, a tenured Marxist university teacher was very pro-Palestinian. . . "

Or, to paraphrase Postroad:

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not a Socialist."
posted by markkraft at 7:18 PM on July 16, 2011


As an outside observer, it looks to me as if the Israeli Right is trying to make it basically illegal to be a Leftist. I imagine that in the future there will be some kind of law to make it illegal to publicly question "fundamental policies" of the Israeli government or something similar.

Once you start circling the wagons, the circle can only get smaller and smaller.
posted by Avenger at 7:52 PM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not a Socialist."

Thread called on account of Godwin.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 8:12 PM on July 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oyéah: " It is illegal in the US to even ask if a product or parts of a product are made in (that state that shall not be named). I bet it is illegal and unwise to even infer any wrongdoing on the part of (that state which shall not be named.)"

What the fuck are you babbling about?

It's absolutely not illegal to mark goods in the US as being made in Israel. Nor is it illegal to inquire (formally or informally) of any item's country of origin. A lot of foods and medical equipment available for purchase in the US are made in Israel, as are some aesthetic products. All are usually clearly marked with their country of origin right on the packaging.

Perhaps it would be helpful for all of us if before you assert things that are totally false, you did some research and backed up your statements with cites.

The laws regarding putting country of manufacture/origin on packaging vary from industry to industry. The COOL laws, for example, manage certain types of meats, fruits and vegetables. Israel is not exempt from these or any other US packaging laws which require Country of Origin labelling.

The US requirements for anti-boycott compliance refer only to corporate agreements to support boycotts. They are very specific.
posted by zarq at 9:33 PM on July 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Practically speaking, is there any method that people in non-Israeli markets can use to distinguish imported settlement-produced goods from imported goods produced in Israel proper?
posted by Vetinari at 4:37 AM on July 17, 2011


It is illegal in the US to even ask if a product or parts of a product are made in (that state that shall not be named). I bet it is illegal and unwise to even infer any wrongdoing on the part of (that state which shall not be named.)"

Canada?
posted by srboisvert at 12:16 PM on July 17, 2011


Voldemort?
posted by kyrademon at 12:48 PM on July 17, 2011


Practically speaking, is there any method that people in non-Israeli markets can use to distinguish imported settlement-produced goods from imported goods produced in Israel proper?

No, unless you research the entire production process of the specific company. Otherwise it will just be marked "Made in Israel". I don't mean to make it sound overly complex, since some of this research would just involve looking up the company, looking at its address and then looking up the location of town it is in, which then turns out to be in the annexed East Jerusalem area, the West Bank or the Golan Heights (since the address will also just say Israel). I think any effective boycott, if a boycott can even be effective, should stop, as the BDS people say, at the line "Made in Israel" but if you want to avoid the settlements in the West Bank and Golan Heights, it's good to remember key terms like Judea, Judean Hills, Samaria, Dead Sea, etc. which all refer to the West Bank.
posted by Gnatcho at 10:58 AM on July 18, 2011


The Southern section of the Dead Sea's West coast is in Israel. The northern 25km is in the West Bank. (Highway 90 runs along the entire coast.) The East coast of the Dead Sea borders Jordan. There are also a whole host of products made from Dead Sea products (including KAWAR and Bloom) that are produced by Jordanian companies, as well.

In other words, read your labels and do your research and don't assume that just because something says "Dead Sea" on it, it's being produced in the West Bank.
posted by zarq at 11:38 AM on July 18, 2011


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