[The following statement was issued by the Who Profits? project and was first published on the BDS Movement website on 1 December 2012.]
On Wednesday, 5 December 2012, the Israeli Supreme Court will conduct a hearing on the petition filed by the Coalition of Women for Peace against the anti-boycott law, which was passed by the Knesset in July 2011. This anti-democratic law is a blunt violation of political and civil liberties and is clearly a political attempt to violently crush civil protest and legitimate criticism against Israel’s policy in the occupied territories. The petition was filed alongside with Adalah, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Public Committee against Torture in Israel, HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, Yesh Din and other organizations.
The law refers to economic, cultural, or academic boycott based on the specifics of its “linkage to the state of Israel, one of its institutions or an area under its control.” Individuals, bodies or corporations can prosecute anyone who knowingly publishes a public call for boycott or publicly participates in a call for boycott, without proving damages. Therefore, this law actually imposes sanctions and financial penalties on individuals who chose a non-violent political protest which includes boycott.
The Coalition of Women for Peace, who initiated Who Profits project several years ago with the aim of exposing the economic aspects of Israel’s occupation, sees the anti-boycott law, first and foremost, as an attempt to silence this discourse. The law suppresses the protest against the occupation economy and silences the discussion on the financial interests of companies and state actors in the continuing Israeli control over Palestinian and Syrian land, resources, and labor force.
Moreover, the law is unconstitutional, as its clear aim is to pose political censorship against organizations and civilians employing universally acceptable, legitimate, and non-violent means of protest, such as boycott, in order to motivate the Israeli government and corporations to respect International and Israeli law and to cease from their violations of human rights.
The anti-boycott law received harsh criticism from the Israeli civil society and from the Knesset Members from the Left and from the Center. In February 2011, over fifty Israeli civil society organizations have signed an appeal to halt the legislative proceedings of the anti-boycott bill. European Parliament Members expressed decisive objection to the law to no avail. This law, which interferes in personal moral decisions of every person, and violates the freedom of speech and political expression, the freedom of opinion, and the right to organize – came into force on 11 July 2011.
As the day of the Supreme Court Hearing approaches, we call on our allies and supporters, civil society organizations and individuals of conscience, to raise a clear voice of objection to the law.
We will not be silenced.