"Middle East's only democracy" passes law against free speech
We have had plenty of occasion to point out before: Isn't it funny that those who invoke the supposed superiority of Western culture the loudest are the quickest to betray those values which supposedly make it superior (pluralism, tolerance, etc.)? It is nearly hilariously ironic in the case of Israel, whose apologists repeat like a mantra that it is "the Middle East's only democracy," in contradistinction to all those Arab dictatorships. When push comes to shove, however, pluralism and tolerance get chucked overboard. The Knesset has just passed a law banning calls for a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. The Israel-based website BoycottIsrael!—"Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within"—remains online at the moment, and it will be interesting to see if any action is taken against it. Here are the basic facts from Ha'aretz, July 11:
The Knesset passed Monday a law penalizing persons or organizations that boycott Israel or the settlements, by a vote of 47 to 38.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not present during the vote. MK Zeev Elkin (Likud), who proposed the law, said the law is not meant to silence people, but "to protect the citizens of Israel."
According to the law, a person or an organization calling for the boycott of Israel, including the settlements, can be sued by the boycott's targets without having to prove that they sustained damage. The court will then decide how much compensation is to be paid. The second part of the law says a person or a company that declare a boycott of Israel or the settlements will not be able to bid in government tenders.
MK Nitzan Horowitz from Meretz blasted the law, calling it outrageous and shameful. "We are dealing with a legislation that is an embarrassment to Israeli democracy and makes people around the world wonder if there is actually a democracy here," he said. Ilan Gilon, another Meretz MK, said the law would further delegitimize Israel.
And all of this to avoid a nonviolent pressure campaign to keep Israel from carrying out its slow ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and even of Arabs within Israel. Ultimately, demographic reality is going to force Israel to chose between being a democracy and being a "Jewish state," with its implication of first and second-class citizenship—just like the USA, with its recent spate of draconian anti-immigrant laws, will have to chose between being a democracy or an Anglo state. Europe, with its recent spate of draconian anti-Muslim laws, faces a similar dilemma. The West as a whole will have to decide wether what is good about the West is democratic political culture or simple ethnic supremacism—the same thing which is decried as despotism in non-western cultures.
See our last post on Israel/Palestine.