The anti-boycott bill that the Israeli Knesset passed yesterday will principally affect those Israelis who call for boycotts of Israel or illegal settlements in occupied Palestine. But how will it affect the global Palestine solidarity movement, and those who advocate for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) that target Israel?
Noam Sheizaf at the excellent +972 Magazine has an important “reader’s guide” up where he is taking questions on the anti-boycott bill. I asked him to address the question of whether international BDS activists will be affected by the new law. My question:
International activists have, following the Palestinian call, been leading the BDS movement and calling for boycotts of Israel. While I have not seen any language concerning foreign nationals in the bill, is there any indication that internationals may also be affected by the law?
The recent “air flotilla” exposed Israel’s policy of denying entry to those who openly proclaim their intent to visit occupied Palestine. Can being a BDS activist now land you in trouble at Ben-Gurion or Allenby, in the form of being denied entry?
Can someone claiming economic damage from a boycott call now attempt to sue foreign nationals or foreign organizations?
When in Israel, one needs to obey Israeli laws, including ones concerning damages. From what I heard from ACRI (Association of Civil Rights in Israel, which has been in the frontline of the struggle against the law), the anti-boycott law would include foreign nationals as well – as long as they make the boycott call while in Israel. One reservation is that it’s not a criminal law, so you need someone to actually sue you for damages, and the court needs to be able to collect them. My guess is that if this law remains active, rightwing and settlers’ organizations will become serial prosecutors plaintiffs of boycottes in order to silence dissent, and, of coarse, make some money on the way.
The law doesn’t apply to foreign nationals in the West Bank, which is under military rule and not Israeli civilian law. It does apply to Israelis everywhere in the world.
The leadership of the Palestinian-led BDS movement, though, say the movement won’t be deterred by this law.