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Knesset to outlaw consumer protests against the occupation
Gush Shalom press release 07/03/11

`This bill seeks to ban a legitimate and non-violent act of protest against the occupation, which is the real threat to Israel`s future`

Uri Avnery: `The Knesset goes on shamefully eroding democracy and the freedom of speech`

Gush Shalom regards the so-called `Boycott Prohibition Law`, which today (Monday, March 7) passed its first Knesset reading, as fundamentally wrong, undermining the foundations of democracy and the freedom of political expression. Our movement, which was the first to call for a boycott of settlements in the Occupied Territories, will continue to maintain this boycott as an act of nonviolent protest against the occupation and for Israel`s future for as long as it is still possible.

Former Knesset Member Uri Avnery, Gush Shalom activist, said: `This is another step in Israel`s transformation into a Fascist state, which uses a policy of intimidation and forcible silencing of dissidents. In approving this bill in its first reading, the Knesset goes on shamefully eroding democracy and the freedom of speech. This is a dangerous law whose declared aim is to prevent the free political activity of the opponents of the occupation and settlements. `

Adam Keller, Gush Shalom spokesperson added that `a boycott of settlements is a legitimate ideological consumer choice, similar to the ultra-Orthodox boycott of products and businesses that are not kosher. It is an act of nonviolent protest against the occupation - which is a real threat to Israel`s security and future prospect.`

Gush Shalom is a pioneer of the consumer struggle against the settlements, and already in 1997 launched the call for a boycott of products made at settlements in the Occupied Tterritories. The repeatedly updated list of settlement products is published on the Gush Shalom website, as well as being distributed at political rallies and public places such as the entrances to supermarkets. This is a legitimate and democratic act of which the Gush Shalom movement is proud and will continue to uphold also in face of the attacks and the impending legislation.

Our view is that any purchase of settlement products provides direct monetary aid to the occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people, the blocking any chance for peace, the destruction of Israel`s future and the violation of International Law. We do not support the position of those who call for an international boycott of Israel as such, and who believe that in this way Israel will be forced to put an end to the occupation. This is an act of desperation which in effect gives up on the Israeli public opinion and society. While not supporting this kind of position, Gush Shalom regards it as completely illegitimate to gag its adherents by way of imposing draconian fines.

The bill now being debated in the Knesset sets out the false statement that `a boycott of Judea and Samaria` is the same as a boycott of Israel. The exact opposite is true - a boycott on the settlements in what the settlers and their accomplices call `Judea and Samaria` is a boycott in support of the State of Israel, aimed at ensuring its well being and future. Enacting a single law, to criminalize indiscriminately the boycotting of settlements and the boycotting the country as whole, is a dangerous blurring of the Green Line which undermines Israel`s legitimacy and playing into the hands of our enemies.

More info: Adam Keller 054-2340749 Hila Aloni, 054-2457680

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