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'Anti-boycott' bill exposes hypocrisy and double standards

Uri Avnery: "The "anti-boycott" bill is an assault on the freedom of expression and political association, an attempt to gag the opposition. It would greatly accelerate the process of Israel's de-legitimation in the international arena. Boycotting the settlements is not 'a boycott of Israel' – it is a boycott for the sake of Israel.

Following the vote in the Knesset Judical Committee, where the so-called "anti-boycott" law was approved towards the final vote in the Knesset plenum, former Knesset member Uri Avnery:of Gush Shalom stated:

"The right wing and its parliamentary representatives have demonstrated their hypocrisy and double standards. Having just praised and lauded the consumer boycott on overpriced cottage cheese, today they came out in favor of forbidding a consumer boycott of settlement products."

Avnery added that: "A consumer boycott is a proper, democratic act by which the public can express its opinion in direct action, as we recently saw in the boycott of cottage cheese which was applauded throughout the country. Similarly, the religious community in Israel is for many years already conducting a boycott of shops and restaurants which sell non-kosher food, and they even conduct this boycott with the government funds which sustain the Chief Rabbinate and city rabbinates. Just as much as these, the community of Israeli peace seekers is entitled to conduct its own consumer action, avoid in an organized way the purchasing of products originating at settlements in the Occupied Territories – since these settlements are a negative phenomenon putting our future in jeopardy. If enacted, the law may touch upon such activities as the publishing a list of settlement products or the decision of actors to refuse performing in Ariel. These and other completely legitimate and democratic activities might be criminalized, become offenses carrying the price of heavy and draconian fines.

"The bill in question includes a completely false statement of fact, that 'a boycott of Judea and Samaria is the same as a boycott of Israel. The exact opposite is true - a boycott of the settlement in the area named by the settlers and their accomplices "Judea and Samaria" is a boycott for the sake of Israel, a boycott seeking to ensure the country's well-being and future.

"The initiators of this bill assert that they want to confront Israel's de-legitimation in the international community - but this bill itself would itself greatly accelerate the process of de-legitimation, by presenting the whole word with the spectacle of an anti-democratic law being approved in Israel, specifically designed to curb the opposition's freedom of action. This bill would not prevent artists, all over the world, from canceling performances in Israel, nor will it stop foreign academics from cutting off cooperation with Israeli universities - on the contrary, it would greatly increase and intensify such phenomena."

I still hope that when this bill gets to the Knesset plenum, there will be found a majority to vote it down and prevent a dark stain from blotting the law books of the State of Israel. This is a test for the Kadima Party, an opportunity to prove that it constitutes an opposition to the right-wing government and not its pale copy. An opportunity for Kadima to mobilize its Knesset Members to show up at the plenum, cast a unanimous No vote, to get rid of this abominable bill once and for all ".


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