The Israeli government passed a law yesterday that allows for any Israeli person or organization calling for the boycott of Israel or the settlements to be sued by the boycott’s target without having to prove any damage was sustained. While members of the opposition party Kadima have rightfully slammed the law as outrageous and shameful, the greater point seems to be that the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is having an effect. Palestinian BDS National Committee Coordinator Hind Awwad explained just that in a press release today:
This new legislation, which violates international law, is testament to the success of the rapidly growing global BDS movement and a realisation within political elites inside Israel that the state is becoming a world pariah in the way that South Africa once was.
In addition to proving the effectiveness of the movement, the law itself seems rather impotent. Since it can’t physically prevent people from not buying things, the law can only target people calling for it. And since the only people who can be subjected to the law are Israelis, there’s likely only a handful of organizers who could actually be sued. And those people are probably the type of principled activists who would be only too happy to challenge the law as a form of civil disobedience. In the end, the law may just backfire and only serve to underscore the poor state of democracy and free speech in Israel.
It seems the law has already inspired greater support for the boycott. As Haaretz reported:
Peace Now movement announced Monday it opened a Facebook page calling for a boycott of products that come from the settlements. On Tuesday it plans to launch a national campaign, with the aim of convincing tens of thousands of people to support the boycott.