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Israel Supreme Court Upholds Law Making It Illegal To Call For Boycott Of Israel

The only democracy in the Middle East strikes again. A law passed by the Israeli parliament in 2011 that bans calling for a boycott of Israel has just been upheld by the Israel’s Supreme Court. The ruling means that anyone expressing support for boycotting Israel or Israeli settlements can be legitimately sued in Israeli courts of law.

Not surprisingly, even many in Israel are calling the law political censorship incompatible with a democracy. Boycotting is a voluntary nonviolent activity used in every open society to protest people and organizations those doing the boycotting oppose. Banning the practice suppresses speech and dissent.

The only substantive rollback the court made on the initial law passed in 2011 was to limit compensation for plaintiffs to damages they could establish.

The High Court of Justice on Wednesday upheld the so-called Anti-Boycott Law, which allows for damage suits to be filed against any person or entity that calls for an economic, cultural or academic boycott of Israel or “areas under its control,” a reference to the West Bank settlements. By a vote of 5-4, the court rejected petitions arguing that the law, which is aimed at facilitating civil suits against anyone calling for a boycott of products produced in the settlements or for an end to economic ties with Israel, unreasonably limits freedom of political expression by establishing a tort liability for encouraging a boycott…

The petitioners, who argued that the law would have a chilling effect that would deter people from expressing a political position by calling for a boycott, objected to the ruling, saying it was silencing what a minority opinion called “one side of the political map” — namely, the left.

Beyond the antidemocratic nature of the law are the problems caused by including Israeli settlements which are illegal under international law. Due to the settlements being illegal, a great many people refuse to do business with companies based there, some may encourage others not to as well – are they all liable now? Defendants could run in the millions.

Given the results of the last election it seems a majority of the people of Israel find an Apartheid state acceptable. Now those of a dissenting view have been weakened from having the chance to persuade their fellow citizens to change their minds.

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Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.