July 15, 2011, Bethlehem - On July 10, 2011, the Israeli Knesset passed a new law prohibiting the participation and public support for boycott against academic, cultural, or business institutions in Israel or its illegal colonial settlements by imposing heavy financial sanctions on Israeli persons or organizations who support or engage in said boycott activities.
The draconian law, “Law for Prevention of Damage to the State of Israel through Boycott-2011,” severely limits Israeli civil society’s freedom of association and speech by muzzling their protest to Israel’s apartheid and colonial policies using non-violent tactics that have been used by cataclysmic movements historically, including the U.S.-based Civil Rights Movement and the Global boycott movement against South Africa.
The law empowers colonial settlers and other institutions or persons targeted by the boycott campaign to file a suit for civil damages. Noura Erakat, BADIL’s US-based Legal Advocacy consultant comments, “Rather than increasing its resolve to dismantle the illegal settlements per international law and the 2004 International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion, the Israeli government is emboldening its settlers to be above the law.”
The new law is also part of Israel’s recent deluge of discriminatory legislation. In late March 2011, the Knesset passed a law that criminalized the commemoration of the historic and ongoing dispossession of Palestinians known in Arabic as the Nakba. The law that has come to be known as the Nakba Bill, stipulates that the government shall de-fund any organization, institution, or municipality that marks the day of Israel’s establishment as a day of mourning or loss. Rania Madi, BADIL’s Geneva-based consultant explains, “Ten years since the International Conference against racism and racial discrimination held in Durban, South Africa, Israel’s violations of the International Convention to Eradicate all Forms of Racial Discrimination have become more egregious and systematic.”
The boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement is civil society’s attempt to hold Israel to account where governments have failed. Since its launch in 2005 by a broad swath of Palestinian civil society, BDS’s successes have been both symbolically and materially tremendous and have associated a high cost for those actors and institutions who are complicit in Israeli colonial and Apartheid practices.1 It is precisely the BDS movement’s success and tangible impact in challenging Israeli impunity that has made it a target for Israeli repression.
As a member of the Boycott, National Committee, BADIL condemns the new law and stands in solidarity with its Israeli partners who remain steadfast in the struggle for justice and equality.
BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights is an independent, community-based non-profit organization mandated to defend and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees and IDPs. Our vision, missions, programs and relationships are defined by our Palestinian identity and the principles of international law, in particular international human rights law. We seek to advance the individual and collective rights of the Palestinian people on this basis.