Saturday, October 8, 2011

Boycott and boycott

Observations on Yom Kippur 2011 (2)

The had never been a better time for consumer boycotts in Israel. The boycott against the dairy giant "Tnuva" resulted in a significant lowering in the price s of its products. The boycott organizers are now seeking the most effective next target, and newspaper commentators highly praise them on the successful initiative which at last managed to get the Israelis out of their traditional indifference.

And also the initiators of the Israeli tourism boycott of Turkey celebrated a small victory this week. The Turkish government decided to call back the tourism attache from its Tel Aviv Embassy. Until two years ago, hundreds of thousands Israeli tourists were going to Turkey, and their numbers were on the rise. Now, it is down to almost zero. Why waste money on a tourism attache when there is no tourism?

Only one kind of boycott is strictly outlawed in Israel. According to the law passed in the Knesset during a dramatic night session a few months ago, every Israeli person or organization daring to call for boycott of settlement products runs the risk of a lawsuit which might render them bankrupt.

The day after the passing of that law, an appeal was lodged by Gush Shalom - whose spokesperson I happen to be. The petition sought to have the new law ruled altogether invalid, due to its instituting a gross discrimination between boycott and boycott, protest and  protest, and its constituting a severe infringement of the freedom of expression, assembly and political activity.

The Justices gave the state sixty days to reply to this petition. The State Attorneys did not rush to answer. Last week the sixty days were over, and on the last day the State Attorney's Office simply asked for a further sixty days to reply.

As a matter of fact, no wonder that the attorneys have a difficulty in formulating their answer – they who are charged with the thankless task of defending in court the Netanyahu Government's policies and the legislation that gets passed by the right-wing majority in the Knesset. Already in advance, the State Attorneys several times addressed directly the Knesset Members, pleading against such a doubtful law and warning that it "verged on the red line".