J Street Condemns Knesset Passage of Boycott Bill

July 12, 2011

J Street condemns the Knesset’s passage yesterday of a law making the call for boycotts of Israel or the West Bank settlements illegal, as a clear and unabashed violation of the fundamental democratic precept of freedom of speech.

This bill is part of a disturbing anti-democratic trend that undermines its purported purpose by giving fodder to Israel’s critics and alienating many of its friends.

In direct contradiction to claims that it would somehow protect Israel from efforts to delegitimize it, the boycott bill actually gives ammunition to those who question Israel’s democratic standing. While J Street opposes the BDS movement, we are concerned that opening the way for civil sanctions against supporters of boycotts will only be used as further justification for increasing anti-Israel boycotts.

We note and share the Knesset Legal Adviser Eyal Yinon’s damning assessment that this law “damages the core tenet of freedom of expression in Israel.” As the multiple legal challenges already underway go forward, we hope that the High Court will uphold the best traditions of Israeli democracy in striking down this law.