[News] Zionists outlaw boycotts of Israel

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jul 19 13:16:55 EDT 2011


http://www.counterpunch.org/cook07192011.html

July 19, 2011


Israel Rules Out Non-Violence


The Method in Netanyahu's Madness

By JONATHAN COOK

Nazareth.

It was an Arab legislator who made the most telling comment to the 
Israeli parliament last week as it passed the boycott law, which 
outlaws calls to boycott Israel or its settlements in the occupied 
territories. Ahmed Tibi asked: "What is a peace activist or 
Palestinian allowed to do to oppose the occupation? Is there anything 
you agree to?"

The boycott law is the latest in a series of ever-more draconian laws 
being introduced by the far-right. The legislation's goal is to 
intimidate those Israeli citizens, Jews and Palestinians, who have 
yet to bow down before the majority-rule mob.

Look out in the coming days and weeks for a bill to block the work of 
Israeli human rights organisations trying to protect Palestinians in 
the occupied territories from abuses by the Israeli army and 
settlers; and a draft law investing a parliamentary committee, headed 
by the far-right, with the power to veto appointments to the supreme 
court. The court is the only, and already enfeebled, bulwark against 
the right's absolute ascendancy.

The boycott law, backed by Benjamin Netanyahu's government, marks a 
watershed in this legislative assault in two respects.

First, it knocks out the keystone of any democratic system: the right 
to free speech. The new law makes it illegal for Israelis and 
Palestinians to advocate a non-violent political programme -- boycott 
-- to counter the ever-growing power of the half a million Jewish 
settlers living on stolen Palestinian land.

As the Israeli commentator Gideon Levy observed, the floodgates are 
now open: "Tomorrow it will be forbidden to call for an end to the 
occupation [or for] brotherhood between Jews and Arabs."

Equally of concern is that the law creates a new type of civil, 
rather than criminal, offence. The state will not be initiating 
prosecutions. Instead, the job of enforcing the boycott law is being 
outsourced to the settlers and their lawyers. Anyone backing a 
boycott can be sued for compensation by the settlers themselves, who 
-- again uniquely -- need not prove they suffered actual harm.

Under this law, opponents of the occupation will not even be 
dignified with jail sentences and the chance to become prisoners of 
conscience. Rather, they will be quietly bankrupted in private 
actions, their assets seized either to cover legal costs or as 
punitive damages.

Human rights lawyers point out that there is no law like this 
anywhere in the democratic world. Even Eyal Yinon, the naturally 
conservative legal adviser to the parliament, assessed the law's aim 
as stopping a "discussion that has been at the heart of political 
debate in Israel for more than 40 years". But more than half of 
Israelis back it, with only 31 per cent opposed.

The delusional, self-pitying worldview that spawned the boycott law 
was neatly illustrated this month in a short video "ad" that is 
supported, and possibly financed, by Israel's hasbara, or propaganda, 
ministry. Fittingly, it is set in a psychiatrist's office.

A young, traumatised woman deciphers the images concealed in the 
famous Rorschach test. As she is shown the ink-splodges, her panic 
and anger grow. Gradually, we come to realise, she represents 
vulnerable modern Israel, abandoned by friends and still in profound 
shock at the attack on her navy's commandos by the "terrorist" 
passengers aboard last year's aid flotilla to Gaza.

Immune to reality -- that the ships were trying to break Israel's 
punitive siege of Gaza, that the commandos illegally boarded the 
ships in international waters, and that they shot dead nine activists 
execution-style -- Miss Israel tearfully recounts that the world is 
"forever trying to torment and harm [us] for no reason". Finally she 
storms out, saying: "What do you want - for [Israel] to disappear off the map?"

The video -- released under the banner "Stop the provocation against 
Israel" -- was part of a campaign to discredit the recent follow-up 
flotilla from Greece. The aid mission was abandoned after Greek 
authorities, under Israeli pressure, refused to let the convoy sail for Gaza.

Israel's siege mentality asserted itself again days later as 
international activists staged another show of solidarity -- this one 
nicknamed the "flytilla". Hundreds tried to fly to Israel on the same 
day, declaring their intention to travel to the West Bank. The goal 
was to highlight that Israel both controls and severely restricts 
access to the occupied territories and to Palestinians.

Proving precisely the protesters' point, Israel threatened airlines 
with retaliation if they carried the activists and it massed hundreds 
of soldiers at Ben Gurion airport to greet arrivals. Some 150 
peaceful protesters who reached Israel were arrested moments after landing.

Echoing the deranged sentiments of the woman in the video, Israel's 
prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, denounced the various flotillas 
as "denying Israel's right to exist" and a threat to its security.

In reality, however, the surge in flotilla activity reflects not an 
attack on Israel but a growing appreciation by international groups 
that Israel is successfully sealing off from the world the small 
areas of the occupied territories left to Palestinians. The flotillas 
are a rebellion against the Palestinians' rapid ghettoisation.

Although Netanyahu's comments sound delusional, there may be a method 
to the madness of measures like the boycott law and the hysterical 
overreaction to the flotillas.

These initiatives, as Tibi points out, leave no room for non-violent 
opposition to the occupation. Arundhati Roy, the award-winning Indian 
writer, has noted that non-violence is essentially "a piece of 
theatre. [It] needs an audience. What can you do when you have no audience?"

Netanyahu and the Israeli right understand this point. They are 
carefully dismantling every platform on which dissident Israelis, 
Palestinians and international activists hope to stage their 
protests. They are making it impossible to organise joint peaceful 
and non-violent resistance, whether in the form of boycotts or 
solidarity visits. The only way being left open is violence.

Is this what the Israeli right wants, believing both that it will 
confirm to Israelis' their paranoid fantasies as well as offering a 
justification to the world for entrenching the occupation?

Netanyahu appears to believe that, by generating the very terror he 
claims to be trying to defeat, he can safeguard the legitimacy of the 
Jewish state -- and destroy any hope of a Palestinian state being created.

Jonathan Cook won this year's Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for 
Journalism. His latest books are 
"<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0745327540/counterpunchmaga>Israel 
and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the 
Middle East" (Pluto Press) and 
"<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1848130317/counterpunchmaga>Disappearing 
Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair" (Zed Books). His 
website is <http://www.jkcook.net>www.jkcook.net.




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