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Knesset member endorses settlement boycott

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Zahava Gal-On. (Photo: Flash 90/Times of Israel)

Zahava Gal-On. (Photo: Flash 90/Times of Israel)

While legislators in Australia, France and the U.S. are seeking to punish those who call for boycott of Israel, the leader of the Israeli party Meretz said she practices a boycott of settlement products and supports a European Union policy to not invest over the Green Line. “I haven’t bought products from the settlements for years,” said Zahava Gal-On in an interview this week with Haaretz:

‘The decision by the EU as part of Horizon 2020, an umbrella program for research and development, was dramatic and significant. It stated that the billions to be invested here would be invested inside legitimate and sovereign Israel and not in the settlements. I support that policy. I haven’t bought products from the settlements for years. The governments of Israel, which hid their heads in the sand and did not look reality in the eye, were partying as if they were on the Titanic, ignoring the angry European iceberg that approached them. Israel should not be investing in the settlements. The policy of control of the settlements will cause European friends to stop investing in Israel completely.

For many years, nobody succeeded in convincing the Israeli public that the occupation had a price, and I think that the occupation − which is a moral issue also has a financial price that the state is paying. The country’s leaders need to understand that it has a price. I oppose a boycott of the State of Israel and am worried about the trend toward a boycott. Somebody needs to get a grip.’

Moreover, Israeli civil rights groups are challenging the anti-boycott law in the High Court. Dahlia Scheindlin covered the very underreported first hearing for +972 Magazine:

The petition to annul the law insists that by making calls to boycott Israel — including those against settlements or enterprises in occupied territory — a civil offense, it violates political freedom of expression. The law stipulates that a party claiming injury due to a boycott need not prove damages, monetary or otherwise, for the accused to be held liable in a civil suit. An earlier draft of the law that made calling for a boycott a criminal offense was adjusted prior to being passed in July 2011.

The civil society groups argued that even if the law is nearly impossible to enforce, its very existence has a “chilling effect,” leading to self-censorship and stifling of a necessary and legitimate political debate about Israeli policy, and that it is not an attack on Israel itself. They claimed that the law effectively blocks a legitimate form of non-violent protest against the policies of the state. Peace organization Gush Shalom, for example, was forced to remove from its website a list of products and companies originating from the West Bank; its lawyers claimed that the law thus alters and hinders prior activity of the organization.

However, abroad restrictions on activism against Israeli policies are inching onward. In France wearing a “boycott Israel” tee-shirt is considered a hate crime, in the U.S. Congress will debate de-funding public universities that endorse a cultural or academic boycott, and in Australia a federal case was brought against an academic who signed a petition to not invite an Israeli professor who teaches at the Hebrew University (the school has a campus in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem).

While Israel too has had its own anti-boycott law on the book since 2012, no charges have ever been filed using the legislation. None of these statements or actions brought to trial abroad have been any more incendiary than stances taken by Israelis themselves—including additional officials of the Israeli government.

Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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22 Responses

  1. seafoid on February 19, 2014, 4:19 pm

    Wearing a bds tshirt in France is a hate crime? Quelle immense saloperie!

    • adele on February 19, 2014, 5:29 pm

      They must have forgotten the famous slogan from the ’68 student riots in France: Il est interdit d’interdire! (trans: ‘to ban is forbidden!’)

    • traintosiberia on February 19, 2014, 9:45 pm

      How low they have to get to suck at the little toe of the Zionist enterprise? It seems that by the time they reach that point in abyss ,the French won’t be able to see their own face anymore. It has changed beyond recognition and beyond conscious reach.

    • Ecru on February 20, 2014, 12:42 am

      I wonder if the law would stand up to a challenge by the European Court of Human Rights.

  2. Daniel Rich on February 19, 2014, 5:09 pm

    I believe in this ‘endorsement’ as much as I believe ‘Fox’ reporting that Adam Lanza had a ‘loaded 12-gauge shotgun in the glove compartment of his Honda Civic‘.

    Some things you simply can’t make up.

    • annie on February 19, 2014, 5:17 pm

      i believe it. she said something i was impressed with last week so i googled her and watched her speech and a j street convention. she kept saying ‘end the occupation’ over and over. i was impressed. shmuel said something impressive about her too, although i can’t recall what. suspend your imagination!

      • Daniel Rich on February 19, 2014, 5:33 pm

        @ Annie Robbins,

        Q: suspend your imagination!

        R: Will do.

        In the mean time, may I uphold my belief that deeds exceed words [I don’t care what politicians tell me they will do, I only look at what they’ve effectively done and achieved]?

    • Benjamin Lawrence 1 on February 21, 2014, 1:55 pm

      Annie, I like her also check out this clip (1:40):

  3. just on February 19, 2014, 6:00 pm

    I linked to a piece in Haaretz earlier this week:

    AG blasted over definition of ‘price tag’ attacks
    Cabinet were allowed to define attacks by extremists on Arabs and Palestinians as being part of ‘forbidden organizations,’ not terror groups
    By Jonathan Lis | Feb. 16, 2014 | 4:30 AM | 10

    “Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein let the cabinet choose to define the perpetrators of so-called price tag attacks on Arab and Palestinian targets as part of “forbidden organizations” rather than terror groups in June 2013.

    Last summer, as a result of political pressure from the right, the cabinet voted to settle for the less severe definition, which is also applied to charities linked to Hamas or Islamic Jihad.

    The difference between the two terms is significant. While conviction of membership in a terror organization carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and the property of any organization defined as such can be confiscated by the police and the Shin Bet security service, the only punishment faced by a forbidden organization is the possible confiscation of its property by the state.

    Meretz chairwoman MK Zahava Gal-On sent a letter to Weinstein, asking him to instruct the cabinet to void its decision and to define the perpetrators of price tag attacks as part of terror organizations.

    “Against the recommendation of the attorney general, the cabinet waves a white flag for political reasons, and instead of calling a spade a spade and declaring ‘price tags’ as a terror organization, allows the thugs from the hilltop youth to evade criminal prosecution through the use of administrative orders,” Gal-On said Saturday.

    In her letter to Weinstein, Gal-On wrote, “There is no doubt that in light of the escalation in price tag activities,” they must be defined as acts of terror, and forceful action must be taken against their perpetrators.

    In a written response to Gal-On, Deputy Attorney General Raz Nezri confirmed that Weinstein allowed the cabinet to choose between the two possible definitions. But he also noted that, from the perspective of the police and the Shin Bet, there is no difference between the two terms, as in either case the means of enforcement available to the agencies are identical.”

    Gal- On IS impressive.

  4. Whizdom on February 19, 2014, 7:13 pm

    There are Israelis who have been individually boycotting the territories for years. And they are nationalists, mostly secular and professional, who totally support Israel, as their homeland, but emphatically, not the occupation. They see the occupation as bad for Israel, bad for security, bad financially, bad demographically, bad morally and just plain bad. They don’t buy WB products.

  5. Ismail on February 19, 2014, 9:40 pm

    “Knesset member endorses settlement boycott”?

    I can’t imagine that Haneen Zoabi doesn’t endorse the boycott, so isn’t that headline a little misleading? Maybe “Another Knesset member….” or “a non-Palestinian Knesset member…”?

  6. Hostage on February 19, 2014, 11:03 pm

    in the U.S. Congress will debate de-funding public universities that endorse a cultural or academic boycott

    There’s still no Senate version of the bill and HR 4009 got referred to the House Education and the Workforce Committee. It’s still not on the schedule there and it still has only 1 co-sponsor. says: Prognosis 1% chance of being enacted. This bill has a 3% chance of getting past committee first.

  7. Sumud on February 19, 2014, 11:45 pm

    The Only Democracy In The Middle East™ seeks to crush free speech at home and abroad.

    That’s going to make people love Israel isn’t it, LOL.

  8. seafoid on February 20, 2014, 1:27 am

    Yeah, it’s really going to appeal to everyone who didn’t grow up with a fascist ideological education.

  9. seafoid on February 20, 2014, 1:33 am

    Any chance of the Dersh backing Gal-On ?

    “Weiss, the spiritual leader of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale and founder of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, has been the subject of controversy in recent years for pushing the envelope when it comes to ordaining Orthodox women as clergy. After learning that his credentials were being challenged by the Rabbinate, Weiss penned an opinion article in the Jerusalem Post on November 5 calling on Israel to end the Rabbinate’s “monopoly on religious dictates of the state.”

    Here’s what Dershowitz, a practicing criminal and constitutional lawyer, wrote to Peres on Monday:

    Rabbi Weiss is one of the foremost Modern Open Orthodox rabbis in America and one of the strongest advocates anywhere for the State of Israel. As a person – I am deeply saddened by the pubic shaming of my friend, Rabbi Avraham Weiss, the leader of a flagship Orthodox congregation.
    As a Jew – I understand that today more than ever before there is a chasm between the Jews of the United States and the religious institutions in Israel. This is clearly expressed in the rejection of the most elementary and fundamental testimonies and confirmations. I am disturbed by this, and by its ramifications, and call upon the leaders of Israel to first understand that there is a serious problem which demands attention, and to understand that they mustn’t bend to baseless religious tyranny.
    As a lawyer – I am forced to see yet again how basic rights, such as the right to marriage, the right to self-definition and the right of religion, are trampled by none other than the Israeli democracy we value so. This is yet another result of the rather unsuccessful fusion of Religious law and Israeli law, and the problem seems to only intensify over time. ”

    you couldn’t make it up, this stuff

  10. Krusty on February 20, 2014, 9:11 am

    I know that it’s unlikely anybody will listen to this, or that this is just going to be viewed as a talking point, but I think there’s merit to this:

    This is some serious dissent from a major Israeli political figure who will continue to compete in a democratic electoral process. This is also a boycott of *settlement* products, something which has at least some degree support through most of the two-state cause (and my own.) That’s a sign of a healthy democracy, however flawed it may be. So is the move by Israel to allow for direct election of the President.

    The radical BDS movement, it needs to be pointed out, isn’t being supported here, just as it isn’t through most of the West except by radical anti-Zionists (who are the very opposite of realists.) Israel is very, very far from perfect. It’s also a successful project, and shifts like these portend greater success as their Overton window shifts towards rhetoric which makes a Palestinian state (and the end of a morally and pragmatically wrong Occupation) more likely.

    • seafoid on February 20, 2014, 9:43 am

      Meretz are marginal.
      Ever since Sharon took over Likud they have been sidelined.

      I think this is, above all, a Jewish tragedy

      “Yeah we’re all wonderful, wonderful people so when did we all get so fearful?”

      • Krusty on February 20, 2014, 10:56 am

        That Meretz is marginal (they absolutely are, esp. as Israeli politics have tilted rightward) doesn’t change my point. If anything, the existence of a still hearty Israeli left is proof of the success of the state. The Haredi may be forced to serve in the IDF soon (a good thing! It comes closer to the pre-religious Zionist ideal.)

        How do you see this as a Jewish tragedy? (Seriously. I’m obviously a fairly liberal Zionist, I’m on this site trying to explore the other side’s thoughts, etc. I obviously have some problems with the editorial line, but I’m here. Seriously. Honestly. Genuinely.)

        I do see the existence of settlers like David Wilder (I still can’t believe that was real) as problematic for Israelis ethnonationally. The settlements are illegal, no new ones should be built, and the existence of small radical ones contributes to a perverse worldview. Cooperation is required, and those settlements inhibit that.

      • seafoid on February 20, 2014, 11:17 am

        Because they have zero leverage.
        And Israeli Jews have bet the farm on a lunatic system.
        I don’t see the point of working hard in Israel. Everything is at risk. None of the liabilities Israel has built up have been reserved for.
        The Israeli state is a complete failure.

        How can that not be tragic ?

      • piotr on February 20, 2014, 11:40 am

        I totally miss the point why the existence of not utterly moribund “left” is a proof of a success of a state. I must admit that I have read about Max Weber, but I have not read him (or other state theorists), so it may be just me being ignorant.

        Concerning David Wilder, his is like a Zionist tachanka (check Wiki entry, especially “in culture”, but the key words from the cited song is “you are our pride and our fame”). The hole point of having Israel is to have a place where Jews can be Jews, nay, where they can be more Jewish than elsewhere, where they can be as Jewish as a Jews can be. Settlers are out there to push the envelope for all of us. Perhaps this is problematic for ethno-rationality.

  11. Talkback on February 20, 2014, 12:14 pm
  12. Shingo on February 21, 2014, 6:26 pm

    While legislators in Australia, France and the U.S. are seeking to punish those who call for boycott of Israel,

    I don’t think that is true in the case of Australia Allison. The lawsuit is being brought by an individual and will likely fail.

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