Democracy in Israel Continues to Fade Away

Just in case you thought that it was only Palestinians under occupation, or Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, or even Palestinian citizens of Israel who are feeling the brunt of Israel’s boot, in comes a Knesset bill that would make it a crime for any Israeli to advocate boycotts against Israel. Bear in mind that, legally, the settlements would be considered “Israel” for these purposes. The bill just passed its first reading.

That means it still has a long way to go before it becomes law, and I tend to agree with a number of analysts and colleagues who have said that the bill will probably eventually become law but in a considerably watered-down form. Still, in any form, this is obviously an attack on free speech and active dissent in Israel.

Lest you think that this bill is a product of an extreme wing of Israel’s political spectrum, of the three Knesset members who initiated the bill, two are from the two biggest parties in the country, Likud and Kadima. Those two parties occupy nearly half of the Knesset seats (55 out of 120). So this is not a product of the margins.

I hasten to add that there is also opposition to this bill in both parties, particularly Kadima. Still, just the fact that such a bill comes up speaks volumes. I’ll also add, in case I need to, that this cannot compare, of course, to the treatment of Palestinians, including citizens of Israel. But this attack on free speech is all of a piece with the state violence and all part of the degradation of Israel that is part and parcel of its occupation, its racism and its policies.

Click here to read the report on this bill from the Alternative Information Center in Israel.

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