Emboldened by success of anti-BDS bill, right-wing parties push ‘political inquisition’

on 35 Comments

Flush with victory from the passage of the anti-BDS bill  by the Knesset on Monday, the nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party and Netanyahu’s Likud party are pushing two controversial legislative bills, both designed to further limit dissent and debate within Israel.

The first, and frankly scarier, of the bills proposes the creation of a “commission of inquiry” to investigate outspoken human rights groups like B’Tselem. The idea was first floated over a year ago but gained traction in sync with the anti-BDS bill. Now Yisrael Beiteinu is pushing for a vote as early as Next Wednesday.

“The Boycott Law has whetted the appetite of the settler Coalition,” MK Zahava Gal-On, chairwoman of the Knesset’s Meretz contingent, told Ynet. “This is an attempt at perpetuating the persecution of left-wing and civil organizations. What will be the next step? Sham trials? Throwing people into gulags.”

The proposal, she added, is nothing less than “a political inquisition.”

Meanwhile, the second bill, which was proposed by Likud MKs Yariv Levin and Zeev Elkin, seeks to grant the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee veto power over appointments to the Israeli Supreme Court. This would effectively give the members of the committee co-equal power with the Judicial Appointments Committee over the appointment process for Supreme Court justices and Supreme Court presidents.

What’s the big deal? One of the bill’s primary sponsors, Yariv Levin, argued that “the [judicial appointments’] bill will break the control of the elite, the radical left in the justice system and restore the sovereignty of the people and the introduction of democratic life in Israel. Those who see themselves fit to annul legislation should be subject to public scrutiny through a democratic and transparent process.”

But to the bill’s critics, the proposal is the opposite of democratic. Not only does it threaten to erase the separation between two historically independent branches of government, it also looks an awful lot like an attempt to “politicize” judicial appointments. Some of the bill’s opponents, like Hadash MK Dov Hanin, have gone so far as to suggest that it is a direct attempt to intimidate judges.

“This proposal was intended to send the Supreme Court a threatening and powerful message ahead of the hearing on the legality of the Boycott Law,” he told Ynet.

“A wave of anti-democratic legislation is threatening to drown us,” he added.

Paul Mutter is a contributor to Foreign Policy in Focus and The Arabist. He is currently interning at Culture Project in New York City.

About Lizzy Ratner

Lizzy Ratner is a journalist in New York City. She is a co-editor with Adam Horowitz and Philip Weiss of The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict.

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35 Responses

  1. Dan Crowther
    July 14, 2011, 9:33 am

    another sad chapter in “you become what you hate the most”

    is anyone going to be surprised when the mass expulsions of Israeli Arabs begins? I guess the only thing the Israeli fascists are lacking from their list of bona fides is a genocide or a huge ethnic cleansing…..standby.

    • seafoid
      July 14, 2011, 10:44 am

      Any attempt at ethnic cleansing would be the start of World War 3.
      Israel is now being run by a coterie of sociopaths .

      • James
        July 14, 2011, 7:25 pm

        i think israel is taking a drip by drip approach to ethnic cleansing… lets hope they figure out a way to turn the tap off before it goes in the wrong direction in a full blown context.. of course this is the problem with nuclear weapons… one idiot on the controls is all it takes…

    • Chu
      July 14, 2011, 1:01 pm

      It gives me hope to think that some worthy military force
      may intervene when this ethnic cleansing may occur. Who
      that is, we shall see when the time comes. But the American
      political establishment would watch it happen and do nothing
      except supply the fascists, just like they did in Operation Cast Lead.

      Whomever it is, I hope they will crush the Israeli militant
      mentality forever. They’re an immoral force that pursues
      an evil ideology of racism and ethnic cleansing.

    • Dan Crowther
      July 14, 2011, 4:00 pm

      just one more thing – as barry and the O’s are about to cut social security, medicare and public education, can we PLEASE cut off the funding for the Zionist Fascists? PUH-LEEZE. I might even vote for Barry if they can do that, right now, it aint lookin good.

      • James
        July 14, 2011, 7:26 pm

        who is going to pay for those politicians reelection campaigns?

  2. stevelaudig
    July 14, 2011, 9:49 am

    With each passing episode the Israeli government and legal order more and more resembles Apartheid South Africa and the Confederate States of America. The CSA began it’s life [despite what its modern apologists would have you believe] with the explicit avowed purpose of defending, preserving and extending slavery. Some of its adherents wanted the death penalty for anyone who spoke against slavery. The CSA became a military dictatorship in a militarized state with censorship while drafting all men who were not just out of the cradle or near the grave. The history of Apartheid South Africa is recent enough to not warrant exposition. Sadly enough many U.S. citizens residing in the North during the war for southern secession supported the notion of a slave republic. Sadly enough many U.S. citizens during apartheid’s day had no objection to its modern version of slavery and oppression. Some public opinion phenomena remain even when the population changes. Happily, enough Americans fought against slavery to make a difference. Happily too, many Americans came to realize the essential evils of apartheid to both white practitioners and black victims. One can be a cheery pessimist or a gloomy optimist and hope for similar changes in the thinking of many Americans when knowledge of Israeli apartheid and oppression becomes more widely known. If it wasn’t so evil they wouldn’t have to spend so much effort trying to make it look good. Ending slavery and apartheid in all its forms is necessary for the victims AND the perpetrators.

  3. seafoid
    July 14, 2011, 9:54 am

    It is becoming abundantly clear that the people who run Israel are not your people, America.

    Israeli kindergartners now required to sing Hatikva :

    link to haaretz.com

    “The new directives are part of a series of initiatives launched by Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar aimed at strengthening pupils’ Jewish and Zionist identity. These have included “adopting” a grave of a fallen soldier, school visits to Hebron and the Tomb of the Patriarchs, the Israeli Journey program sponsored by the Bereshit association headed by Rabbi Motti Elon, and expanding visits to Jerusalem, with a stress on the City of David.”

    EVEN the ADL condemns boycott law :

    link to haaretz.com

    if the settlers walk like fascists and talk like fascists…
    a stunning article by über settler Israel Harel.
    The settlers don’t want democracy if it gets in the way of Erez Israel.

    link to haaretz.com

    “If Israeli citizens weren’t betraying their country and being convicted of acts of terror, there would be no need for a law revoking their citizenship. And if all citizens met their military service obligations there would be no need for a (“discriminatory” ) law that gives benefits and priority to those who risk their lives for the country.
    The existence of a small and specific group that has united against these laws aimed at reinforcing the state’s values and sovereignty obligates the majority to voice its support for the general trend of these laws.
    These legislative initiatives, some of which indeed go too far, such as the parliamentary inquiry of leftist organization (that’s what happens when one must deflect attacks from all quarters ), are attempting to restore some order to the insanity”

  4. eljay
    July 14, 2011, 9:58 am

    >> is anyone going to be surprised when the mass expulsions of Israeli Arabs begins?

    Nope. For some, it will be a “required” evil. For others, it will be just another step on the road to “enough Israel”.

    In the end, however, as long as there is “peace, not ‘justice'” and not too many peppers and cucumbers are exported, everything will be just fine. :-)

  5. seafoid
    July 14, 2011, 10:07 am

    Things are only going to get worse in Israel
    This was on the ha’aretz site recently , as a comment :

    Let us look at the composition of Israeli Jews today: 1. The former Soviets constitute about 20%. They grew up under a totalitarian regime and tend to prefer strong leaders and a brute-force approach. 2. The Sephardim/Mizrahim (from Islamic states), constitute about 1/3 of the Jews. They tend to hate Arabs, their former oppressors, tend to be more emotional people, and their grounding in democracy is still weak. Shasniks are of course worse in this respect. 3. Religious Ashkenazis, including Haredim, about 10% of the Jews (as estimated by Knesset representation, which minimizes their numbers because they have many children). Haredim and the religious are messianists and believe in Religious Law as superior to state law.// Altogether we have about 2/3 of the Jews with hardline tendencies, based on cultural and religious background. To them one could add the secular Ashkenazi right-wingers like Netanyahu, and you see that Israel is facing a democratic crisis. The big question is: How did the State manage to be formed as a democracy in the first place? The simple answer is that the main non-democratic forces were not yet citizens: The Russians, Sephardim, Haredim, and religious messianists, had a small and negligible representation in the 1948 Yishuv. They are now ready and able to destroy what their more democratic brothers had established.

    • Hostage
      July 14, 2011, 1:02 pm

      The big question is: How did the State manage to be formed as a democracy in the first place?

      Huh? The UN thought it was proposing a Jewish state with nearly as many Arab citizens as Jews. On May 14, 1948 the “Jewish authorities” in the Jewish Agency for Palestine and the National Council of the Jews of Palestine (Vaad Leumi) jointly established themselves as the Provisional State Council and the Provisional Government of the State of Israel, in which all legislative, executive and judiciary powers in the State were vested. The Jewish leadership acquired a great deal of Arab territory beyond the boundaries envisioned in the UN partition plan. Israel drove the majority of its Arab inhabitants into permanent exile. So, the government of Israel came into existence through a completely undemocratic process that literally and completely excluded all of its Arab subjects.

      • eljay
        July 14, 2011, 1:05 pm

        >> So, “Israel” came into existence through a completely undemocratic process that literally excluded its Arab subjects.

        I blame Hamas. And the shortage, at that time, of peppers and cucumbers.

      • Hostage
        July 14, 2011, 3:41 pm

        I blame Hamas. And the shortage, at that time, of peppers and cucumbers.

        No, it appears that it was the “ambiguity” of the possible differences in meaning of phrases like “all Arab lands”, “occupied Arab lands” and “Absentee property”. I blame the “ambiguity of the language, of the change of the language” that threatened to change the meaning of “enough Israel”. It was the fault of a secret cabal of UN mediators and Arab refugees working with the movement calling for a “peaceful” settlement.

    • Mooser
      July 15, 2011, 12:12 pm

      “The simple answer is that the main non-democratic forces were not yet citizens: The Russians, Sephardim, Haredim, and religious messianists, had a small and negligible representation in the 1948 Yishuv.”

      ROTFLMSJAO!! I can just hear the Askenazi when they get back to England, or the US: ‘Those G-D Jews ruined my democratic Israel!’

      But don’t worry, we Askenazi will have our revenge, when we bug out of Israel and leave the Russians, Sephardim, Haredim and messianists to face the consequences, alone and broke.

  6. justicewillprevail
    July 14, 2011, 10:23 am

    “What will be the next step? Sham trials? Throwing people into gulags.”

    Ahem, already happens to Palestinians, and has been happening for a long time.

    • tree
      July 14, 2011, 11:38 am

      Ahem, already happens to Palestinians, and has been happening for a long time.

      Yeah, but “people” has a different meaning in Israel. Jews only. That’s why there is a bigger stink about this law than about the myriad others that discriminate against Palestinians. This one potentially affects Jews.

      • seafoid
        July 14, 2011, 12:38 pm

        This one is much bigger than anything Israel ever did to the Palestinians because this is the sort of thing foreigners get really mad about.

      • richb
        July 15, 2011, 8:47 am

        Here’s Laura Durkay’s Twitter stream:

        lauradurkay Laura Durkay
        ALERT: activists from france & other countries have been prevented from boarding their planes headed to tel aviv for the #flytilla.
        7 Jul

        lauradurkay Laura Durkay
        we all got an announcement from our airline re “special boarding procedures.” i think they’ll try to stop us before we even get on planes
        7 Jul

        lauradurkay Laura Durkay
        so the israeli siege of gaza reaches to greece and the siege of the west bank covers the whole of europe. #flytilla
        7 Jul

        lauradurkay Laura Durkay
        checked in at london airport & thru security. not stopped yet… #airflotilla #flytilla
        8 Jul

        Then it went dark. But she’s back and here’s her story. I’ve edited the tweets to a single narrative. This is how the “only democracy in the Middle East” treats American citizens.

        salaam all! i am out of israeli prison after being detained for 4 nights and 4 days without being given any legal reason. Everyone on our flight from london was pulled aside at ben gurion passport control. the only thing i said was that i was going to bethlehem. [I was] detained 3 hrs in basement of ben gurion then 3 hrs on HOT prison bus w/bugs, no toilet, no water til we pounded on walls 2 demand it. [I was]taken to givon immigration detention center in ramla around 1115pm fri night where we were held for 4 nights & 4 days w/out charges. Men & women separated so i can only share womens’ experience for now. 36 women on our cellblock: us, brit, french, belgian, german. Some were beaten/shoved/handcuffed while being arrested. no violence at prison itself, just general shitty conditions and lack of info. In our cellblock we graffitied free palestine etc all over cell walls & doors with markers or toothpaste. toothpaste took pain off doors :-) Prison conditions were fairly crappy but could have been much worse. main point is we were detained for 100 hours for NO LEGAL REASON at all. A few brave israelis had a solidarity protest outside airport for us. for saying “welcome to palestine” they were beaten & arrested. At no point during detention were we told our legal status or exactly what would happen to us. We weren’t even told where we were going when we were put on prison bus. looked out windows and guessed. There were prisoners’ rights written on wall at givon; we were told by guard “you’re special, those rights don’t apply to you”. [We] had to fight for everything – phone calls, consular visits, medical treatment. woman in our cell had diarrhea, took 4 days to get a doctor. First day in prison when all consular officials visiting, cell doors open most of day & we could go out in hall & fraternize. Second day, no consular officials: locked up all day except 2 hrs in yard & 1 hr in hall. One of shittiest things: being woken up at 630am every day but still locked in & no breakfast til 8. just petty meanness. [There was] constant lies & lack of info from guards on when we could make phone calls, see lawyers etc. “later” was their favorite word. later = never. We were kept isolated from normal occupants of prison – mostly poor undocumented workers being kicked out & migrants/refugees from africa. Light swtiches were outside the cell so we worked out bootleg way to turn off lights with broom & help of cell across the way. Despite general shitty conditions, solidarity & spirit among prisoners was amazing: sharing food, clothes, toiletries & info. [There were] many different nationalities but enough spoke english and/or french that those became common languages. French & belgians in particular had big protests demanding our release and lots of media coverage. The Israeli government has been incredibly stupid on this. if they’d just let us in there would have been no story at all. Some belgians were sent to a prison in the negev that was worse than ours: link to english.aljazeera.net

  7. eljay
    July 14, 2011, 10:31 am

    >> The Russians, Sephardim, Haredim, and religious messianists, had a small and negligible representation in the 1948 Yishuv. They are now ready and able to destroy what their more democratic brothers had established.

    Don’t forget to blame the Palestinians who refuse to lie still while “enough Israel” is taken from them.

    Damn you, Hamas!!!

    • tree
      July 14, 2011, 11:56 am

      They are now ready and able to destroy what their more democratic brothers had established.

      Ha! Funny how the ethnic cleansing and destruction of Palestinian villages by the “1948 Yishuv” is considered “more democratic”. That was done by all those “democratic” Ashkenazi Zionists, most of whom came from Eastern Europe, that well known 19th and early 20th century bastion of “democracy”.

  8. seafoid
    July 14, 2011, 11:37 am

    Where are Witty, eee and hophmi to give their support to this latest Israeli
    showpiece? Or can we expect some condemnation?

    • Dan Crowther
      July 14, 2011, 11:56 am

      just wonderin the same………

    • Hostage
      July 14, 2011, 5:04 pm

      eee never replied when I mentioned this bill in response to his ludicrous claim that “As for the stature of the Israeli supreme court, its rulings are never politicized”

    • Djinn
      July 14, 2011, 5:55 pm

      I’ve used up a chunk of my exy holiday wifi access trying to find an eee/witty et al response to this, kind of rude of them to disappear like this

    • Chaos4700
      July 15, 2011, 9:03 am

      Zionists are cowards.

  9. bijou
    July 14, 2011, 12:14 pm

    Another winning piece of legislation:
    “Slavery Law” – passed in May

    An amendment to the Israel Entry Law – infamously known as the “Slavery Law” –passed its final vote in Knesset on Monday, 16 May 2011, in a 26-6 vote, despite wide opposition from human rights organizations and leading legal experts. The law was passed on the very first day of the Knesset’s Summer Session.

    The new law severely harms fundamental human rights of approximately 55,000 migrant workers in the nursing professions in Israel, the majority of which are women. The law enables the Minister of Interior to restrict the number of times a migrant caregiver can change employers, to limit workers to specific geographical areas, and to confine them to specific subsections of the nursing services. The amendment constitutes an attempt to circumvent the High Court of Justice and to restore an earlier “binding arrangement” of migrant workers to their employers, which the High Court has already criticized in 2006 for “creating a modern form of slavery” following a petition by five human rights organizations.

    During the Knesset’s recess in the past month, ACRI and other organizations have worked together and generated some public discussion regarding this pending bill – having initiated a powerful letter by Israeli jurists, followed by a support letter by American-Jewish counterparts (organized by the New Israel Fund) and a subsequent letter from Israeli public opinion leaders – all condemning the bill for severely violating basic human rights, and urging decision-makers to stop it.

    Attorney Oded Feller, Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI): “Almost 150 years after the United States has abolished slavery, the State of Israel is about to adopt it in its legislation. A law that binds migrant workers to their employers and makes it harder for them to leave an employer will turn migrant workers into slaves with no rights. The result will be abuse of migrant workers and the creation of a legal system that is an open invitation for exploitation.”

    Attorney Reut Michaeli, Hotline for Migrant Workers: “Just this week we got a complaint from a Filipina caretaker, who discovered that her employer planted a hidden camera in her bedroom. Because of this new law, this worker and many others like her will find it difficult to leave employers and will have to give in to even the most demeaning employment conditions.”

  10. annie
    July 14, 2011, 2:58 pm

    i wonder if the US will issues residency visas for israelis seeking asylum from political prosecution by the goi.

    hmm. i guess they already thought of that which is why it isn’t criminalized. no where to run to when the government allows it’s citizens to take the wealth of another over freedom of speech.

    this is so over the top.

  11. lysias
    July 14, 2011, 4:00 pm

    Look how Israel may suffer if the U.S. defaults: The Hill: Moody’s puts nation’s credit rating on watch:

    In addition, the credit-rating agency is reviewing for downgrade the triple-A ratings of financial institutions directly tied to the federal government, such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Bonds issued by Israel and Egypt, but guaranteed by the U.S. government, also could be downgraded, as could certain housing and municipal bonds.

    • seafoid
      July 15, 2011, 3:23 am

      Israel’s financial system is its Achilles heel.

  12. Les
    July 14, 2011, 6:40 pm

    Published 16:42 14.07.11

    Meretz party marks settlement goods at Israeli supermarkets

    Faction initiates sticker-placing campaign in response to boycott law.
    By Jonathan Lis

    The New Movement-Meretz’s operations headquarters and youth division made their way through supermarkets across Israel Wednesday, marking products manufactured in the settlements.

    The move is part of a campaign intended to warn the public against purchasing goods manufactured in the settlements, and comes in response to the boycott law passed in the Knesset this week

    In addition to marking products with green stickers printed with, “Manufactured in the settlements,” the Meretz party is expected to promote the sticker on Facebook and encourage the public to print it out and stick it on products themselves.

    Party Secretary-General Dror Morag said the struggle today is not solely about settlement goods, but the “essence of democracy.”

    According to the boycott law, which was passed in the Knesset on Monday night, a person or an organization calling for the boycott of Israel, including the settlements, can be sued by the boycott’s targets without having to prove that they sustained damage. The court will then decide how much compensation is to be paid. The second part of the law says a person or a company that declare a boycott of Israel or the settlements will not be able to bid in government tenders.

    link to haaretz.com

  13. ToivoS
    July 14, 2011, 8:32 pm

    There is a photo of Faina Kirschenbaum, the mk pushing this legislation at:

    link to haaretz.com

    Is it just me that this looks like the face of evil.

    • annie
      July 14, 2011, 9:00 pm

      it’s not just you. she looks like snowwhite’s stepmother.

      • Bumblebye
        July 14, 2011, 10:01 pm

        Cruella de Ville. She’d scare puppies and kittens out of their skins alive just by looking at ’em.

  14. Pixel
    July 15, 2011, 2:45 am

    If the jackboot fits…

  15. Kathleen
    July 15, 2011, 8:27 am

    Apartheid going wild

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